My students wrote an essay evaluating the change in Reverend Henry Maxwell in the book In His Steps. This sentence is from one of their papers.
“He gave the town exactly what they needed, a slap in the face and some hope.”
I think this is often what we need. A slap in the face and some hope.
Since my community group is going through the book of 1 Corinthians, I’ve been listening to podcasts from Solid Rock from their series on 1 Corinthians. They’re really good, and I learned something that relates to an earlier post. I learned some of the history regarding the altars to ‘unknown gods’.
Most Greek cities were home to dozens of gods, but as the location of the Pantheon, Athens was home to hundreds of gods. Several decades before Paul, a plague hit Athens, and the people naturally assumed that a god was angry about being neglected. A poet was called to help this problem, and the poet suggested that the people of Athens let loose sheep in the city. Wherever the sheep stopped to graze and lay down, the people were to sacrifice the sheep to this unknown god and built an altar to the god right on that spot. The Athenians did, and the plague stopped immediately.
Paul’s probable assumption was that God was at work, and in fact was the ‘unknown God’. And by the time we get to Acts 17, Paul is using this incidence to preach about God’s identity.
To me, it’s just really cool that God is at work even in places that we don’t recognize it. God’s a lot bigger than we realize. God is here and he can be known.
I sent my students an email to remind them of the schedule for this week so that they would know what to be prepared for. After sending it, I realized that a couple items on the list are kind of awkward next to each other (or very appropriate).
- 9:00 Prayer
- 9:05 Lateral Thinking Puzzle
- 9:15 Devos-I Corinthians 3
- 9:30 Old Testament Quiz
- 10:00 World History-Peace Efforts
- 10:30 English-Everyman
- 11:15 Geometry-Area of Segments
- 12:15 Lunch
- 12:45 Biology-Excretory System
- 1:15 Research Time
My church has started a series on Ephesians, and I’m really excited for it. We once spent 16 months in Luke, so we will probably be here for a while, but my pastor describes the book of Ephesians like looking out into a sky full of stars. As your eyes adjust to the darkness, the longer you look, the more you see. Here’s something I noticed:
Ephesians 1:8-10 “With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
So, Jesus’s death was NOT Plan B—it has his will from the start, and he knew it was a GOOD plan. This is the mystery that is revealed through Christ’s death: God reconciles all things in heaven and on earth to himself. Knowing that is his will, we are to act according to it. This is how we know God’s will for our lives—does it bring ourselves and others to a place of reconcilement with God (and, consequently, each other)?
Why do we make deciphering God’s will so complicated and hard to figure out? Right here it seems pretty simple (though hard to act out, for sure).
I really love the students I’m working with. This year they are all girls from very conservative Christian backgrounds. One of their assignments in our short story unit was to write a short story. They all decided that they were going to write love stories about each other. All of their stories read very much like your typical Christian romance novel: cheesy, naive, innocent, sweet, and hopeful. While I am not at all a fan of Christian (or really any) romance novels, I loved the hope that was found in all of their stories. After all, hope is the promise of the gospel.
One of the girls decided to write about me. It was interesting to see how she perceived me as much more conservative than I am (probably good if I’m a role model to these girls). One line in particular really made me giggle.
“He saw something in this girl that seemed very different from other girls. He isn’t sure, but he thinks she has Christ as her Savior.”
Again: cheesy, naive, innocent, but hopeful.
A rest from preoccupation with money, pleasure, and all creature comforts meant getting a proper perspective in relation to the Creator. On the Sabbath, Jews reflected and put the events of the past week in a larger context of saying to God: “You are the true Ruler, I am but your steward.” The Sabbath was a day of rigorous honesty and careful contemplation, a day of taking stock, examining the direction of life and rooting oneself anew in God…As a memorial of creation, the Jewish Sabbath foreshadowed the Sunday of the New Testament—the memorial of our re-creation in Christ Jesus.” —
Brennan Manning from Abba’s Child
Something to reflect on for Good Friday
As a nice follow up to my previous devo post, I want to talk about something that was first discussed in my community group and then popped up the following day in my own reading.
My community group is working our way through I Corinthians and as we studied chapter 4 we talked about the importance of testing what pastors/teachers say against the Word (our responsibility) and pastors/teachers being held to a higher standard because the guide people (their responsibility).
In John 7:17, Jesus says that “Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own.” We have the Spirit of God in us, and that Spirit—because it is God—cannot be in conflict with God. If we choose to do the will of God we are given his Spirit, and that Spirit tests what we hear so that we know whether teaching comes from God or the pastor’s less-than-holy backside. Isn’t the Holy Sprit useful?!
On the way home from church today I was very aware of the fact that my car was running on fumes. I’m pretty sure I made it over the hill on prayer alone. I pulled into a gas station only to discover it was closed. I pulled into another gas station, and waited in line for 5 minutes before I found out their card machine was down, so I couldn’t actually buy gas there. I barely made it to the third gas station at which I could actually buy gas. I’m pretty sure this is the cosmos celebrating April Fools’ Day.
Acts 18:24-28 is the story of Apollos, a young believer who passionately spoke to people about the gospel. His knowledge, however, is incomplete. So some older, more mature believers take him aside and explain the gaps in his knowledge. Instead of being discouraged, Apollos assimilated the new knowledge into his understanding and kept sharing the truth.
I find this incredibly encouraging as I share my thoughts about the Bible on this blog. Sometimes I worry that I may have missed something or that my theology may be flawed, and I don’t want to misrepresent the gospel. But what I learn from Apollos is that I should teach boldly using the best and most complete knowledge and understanding that I have. When I am corrected, I need to accept it graciously, change my teaching to reflect that better, more complete knowledge, and then continue to teach boldly.