June 7, 2012 § 2 Comments
While in Zambia, I (Ben) am pursing my Master of Arts in Theology degree from Fuller Seminary. I started taking courses at their campus in Seattle before we moved to Lusaka, and I have been taking online courses while in Lusaka to keep up with my program. I finished my Hebrew Prophets course this week (phew!), and I thought I would share a few keys that will hopefully inspire you to carefully study this section of the Bible.
1) Looking Back – When an average person thinks of a prophet, he/she likely thinks about a person who predicts what will happen in the future (or someone who fails to predict the future, for example a false prophet). While there is truth to this element of a prophet’s role, prophecy in the Bible is about more than looking at what is to come. In fact, prophecy isn’t so much about looking forward to something but rather calling us to look back and live according to what we already know to be true.
In the Hebrew Prophets, much of the writers’ concerns are about how Israel has failed to measure up to their covenants with God. Thus, the prophets serve to remind Israel of who God is and what He has always required so that they may repent and return to Him. In reading through the many failures of Israel contained with the Prophets, it is easy to see areas where we too have fallen short of what God requires of us, thus looking back helps us to properly evaluate how we can move forward.
2) Community – In reading through the Prophets, a person will eventually reach the inescapable conclusion that how we live in community with others is essential to proper worship of God. Many of the sins condemned by the prophets are both sins of evil committed against our neighbor and sins of failing to do good for our neighbor. In our individualistic culture, we tend to think about what God requires of me, rather than what God requires of we. The prophets clearly show that we must live faithfully in community in order to honor God.
3) God’s Faithfulness – Perhaps the most startling thing I see in the Prophets is God’s unwavering faithfulness to a faithless people. Israel fails God time and time again, yet God continues to extend His mercy to those who repent and respond in obedience. In my dealings with people, I may occasionally give someone who fails me a second chance. Perhaps rarely, I will give them a third chance. But eventually my patience will wear out and I will give up on them. Not so with God. His mercy never fails and remains available for all who respond.
Overall, Hebrew Prophets was a tremendously rewarding class that has given me an even greater appreciation for the Scriptures and for God’s faithfulness throughout all generations, as well as a sobering reminder that God will hold all people accountable for how they live in response to His grace.
January 23, 2012 § 1 Comment
I know it’s a little late but the reason I took some time away from this blog was to reflect and think a bit about my goals for the New Year. Ben and I had some mutual goals that we made for our family but I had some personal goals as well (I prefer the term goals to resolutions because it sounds more sophisticated and more flexible if said “resolutions” aren’t met).
A few of them are:
- Wake up early each day
For me, this has always been a struggle. I grew up in a family where my dad worked afternoons and evenings and so I usually went to bed at 10 or 11pm (sometimes even later). It was awesome because I got to see my dad but it meant that we followed a later schedule in our day (we usually woke up at 9 or 10…or later). Also, I spent the last two years working night shift. This further disrupted my circadian rhythm and I found it difficult to bounce back between waking up at a “normal” time and staying up all night. Also, because of night shift, I developed the ability to sleep without end (12 hours, plus). Thus, I have determined that 2012 will mean more discipline for me going to bed at a decent hour (goal of 930pm or so) and waking up some time before 8am (goal of 6:30 or 7am). So far, so good on this one! I’ve been feeling better physically and more productive in my day.
- Meal planning
I started doing this late last year but have resolved to continue this coming year. Sometime during the weekend, I plan out the next week’s meals and then shop for groceries and buy everything that I will need for the coming week. I started doing this for a few reasons – we were throwing out food that went bad or we became tired of and we had to make extra stops to the store for items for dinner that night (I tried asking Ben to stop for me on the way home but found out it’s one of his pet peeves – oops). Now, obviously waste isn’t acceptable whichever country you’re living in but it definitely confronts us more head on now that we’re living in a developing nation. We often have people asking us for money or food. Whether or not this is truly a need, I’m not sure but Ben and I have both determined that we want to be frugal with our living in order to be generous with others. A really simple way to do this is with our groceries. It takes discipline but we’ve significantly cut our budget down with simple planning of meals. More on this to come!
- Studying my Bible
So often, we hear as Christians that we should study our Bible but no one really knows how to do it, or even start learning for that matter. There are many great resources out there (including Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods) but my new favorite is Kay Arthur’s “How to Study your Bible.” It’s the inductive Bible study method and it is simply you and your Bible and learning how to understand what the text means from the historical context as well as the text itself. I studied 1 Peter with the guidance of a friend and mentor last year and was so excited to have the Bible open up to me in that way that I wanted to keep going! I’ve made it a goal to one Old Testament book and 3 New Testament books this year. I’ve started with Genesis and am excited for the journey!
April 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
Check out this awesome blog here on the Resurgence by Dane Orland (who usually blogs at http://www.dogmadoxa.blogspot.com/). We need more ideas like this in Christendom. I’ve pretty much fallen into all of the categories at some point in my life. I’ve taken to reading my Bible on my iPod (as well as other books) every day using the YouVersion app. Uh-mazing.
December 14, 2010 § 2 Comments
In the past, I haven’t really considered myself a “creative” person per se. However, I’ve realized over the last little bit that photography has become quite the creative outlet for myself. I’m learning more all the time…in fact, I just read a great blog about aperture at Bakers Dozen, a blog favorite of mine.
This past week had some stressful moments for me…work was challenging, plus there were relationship struggles, I wasn’t feeling that great, and wasn’t sleeping well. This blog is helping me release some emotional energy. Ahhh…I feel better already. I have taken to reading Psalms quite frequently to encourage myself in the Lord. Today, you get a little of both.
Here are a few of my favorites: