Words to ponder from Jim Somerville:
Have we given up on Jesus? Do we no longer believe that one of these days he will come back, and the Kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever (Hallelujah! Hallelujah!)? Is that why we go crazy at Christmas, and rush around buying presents for each other? Is that why we crank up the Christmas carols and talk about Santa Claus coming to town?
Nice reflection by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman:
There really are miracles.
Ask children, too young to look cynically at birthday candles, bubble baths and cushiony piles of autumn leaves; ask adults old enough to appreciate the gift of each unfailing sunrise and another day on earth. I’m not talking about the sun standing still or the Red Sea parting, or even the odd case of spontaneous remission from deathly illness that, admittedly, happens to some people (but not to others). The miracles I look for are not breaks in the natural order; they are simpler things, like human decency where we least expect it and the everyday moments that evoke deep breaths of gratitude just for the privilege of being.
Do read it all.
The main event is hosted at Mitch Chase’s Soli Deo Gloria blog.
Jim West’s roundup of biblical and theological links is posted.
Brian Small has once again posted his monthly Hebrews highlights.
Septuagint Studies Soirée #4.
Phillip Long of Reading Acts has posted some info about future carnivals and how you can become involved.
I’m thankful for…
- Faith, hope, and love.
- The Mercer University Children’s Choir.
- The most awesomely awesome wife in the universe.
- A daughter who still likes me to read her bedtime stories.
- Bills that are paid.
- The innocence of childhood.
- The ability to keep on learning.
- The privilege of living near my parents.
- Amazing friends with all their amazing interests and skills.
- Fond memories of my departed mother-in-law.
- A bright and enthusiastic pastor.
- Jim Butcher.
- The cheeseburgers at Greek Corner Pizza.
- The Bibb County Public Library.
- Mr. Seredick.
- A church where they let me lead a three-week Bible study on monsters.
What are you thankful for?
Dorothy King explains it all, and admirably!
Just in case anyone asks you what the difference is between Christmas and Chanukah, you will know what and how to answer.
1. Christmas is one day, same day every year, December 25th. Jews also love December 25th. It’s another paid day off from work. We go to the movies and out for Chinese food and Israeli dancing. Chanukah is 8 days. It starts the evening of the 24th of Kislev, whenever that falls. No one is ever sure. Jews never know until a non-Jewish friend asks when Chanukah starts, forcing us to consult a calendar so we don’t look like idiots. We all have the same calendar, provided free with a donation from the World Jewish Congress, the kosher butcher or the local Sinai Memorial Chapel (especially in Florida ) or other Jewish funeral homes.
2. Christmas is a major holiday. Chanukah is a minor holiday with the same theme as most Jewish holidays. They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat.
Eleven more points to ponder over at PhDiva.
Here is the PPT for the third and final installment of my recent Wednesday-night Bible study series, “Monsters: A Biblical Bestiary.” I think people have appreciated the series, even though it has been a bit challenging for some.
We looked at how to study the Bible in terms of translation, textual criticism, and understanding the cultural context in which it was written.
In “Here Be Dragons,” I talked about what happens when the monsters we find in the Bible are there because the biblical writers actually believed in monsters. In the process, we look a bit at the fact that the Bible describes the world in terms of ancient conceptions of cosmology, meteorology, and physiology.
I really should link to Jim Somerville more often. His post today, “Which Jesus Will We Give Them?” is a refreshing back-to-basics sermon for all of us:
I was reminded of that when I was at the BGAV meeting in Fredericksburg recently. There we were—a thousand Baptists from Virginia all gathered together in a single room. You would think that we all held the same views, wouldn’t you? But as one speaker after another talked about Jesus I could tell that we thought about him in different ways, and maybe that shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does. After all, there are four Gospels in the New Testament, which means that we have four different accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. And then there are Paul’s letters, which are more about the risen Christ than the earthly Jesus, and about what his death and resurrection mean for us. And then there are the other writers, like Peter, James, and the author of Hebrews, who each have their own perspective. And finally the Book of Revelation, in which the risen Christ appears with “hair as white as wool and eyes like flames of fire” (1:14). So if I’m going to “give them Jesus” I have to ask: which Jesus am I going to give them?
Because I think we tend to “cut and paste” when it comes to Jesus. We take what we like about him from the Bible, and from the hymn book, and from the pictures that hang in our Sunday school classrooms, and the songs we learned as children, and we put them all together to make this composite picture we carry around in our heads, and that’s “our” Jesus. Sometimes the confused looks I see on your faces when I’m preaching are not because you don’t understand what I’m saying, but because “my” Jesus doesn’t look like “your” Jesus. My Jesus is always talking about the Kingdom, and urging people to join him in the joyful work of bringing heaven to earth. Your Jesus may be saying, “Go, make disciples of every nation,” or, “Come to me, all you who are weary,” or, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I was thinking about that on the way home from Fredericksburg when it occurred to me that if even if you put all these cut-and-paste images together you still get the picture that God sent Jesus to love us, save us, change us, and send us. I said it out loud: “God sent Jesus to love us, save us, change us, and send us.” And something about that rang so true I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.
Do read it all.
Ken Schenk, who is always worth reading, has begun a twothree-part review of Zondervan’s Five Views of Biblical Inerrancy. I have appreciated many of Zondervan’s Counterpoints books, but have not yet had the opportunity to look at this one. In each volume, a number of scholars propound their views of some theological topic (sanctification, hell, etc.) and interact with the views of their colleagues.
The contributors to this volume are Al Mohler, Kevin Vanhoozer, Mike Bird (who blogs at Euangelion), John Franke, and Peter Enns. It looks like an interesting volume, and Ken’s reflections are also quite apt.
For the second installment of my Wednesday-night Bible study series “Monsters: A Biblical Bestiary,” I discussed the story of David and Goliath.
Actually, what I discussed was textual criticism and how we are sometimes guilty of wrestling to understand the wrong biblical text! But it’s more fun to talk about David and Goliath, so that’s the way I did it.
For those who are interested, here is the PowerPoint presentation I used: “Opponents of Unusual Size.” Enjoy!
I was also informed (in jest, I’m almost certain) that a rumor had started that I was doing a Bible study on bestiality. I can only say that, if I were writing a book, that is exactly the sort of rumor I would hope someone would get started!