One of the beautiful things about the Bible is how it all comes together over so many different years and authors and genres. A key part of understanding the text is understanding the genre that is being read. We should read poetry like it’s poetry, narrative like it’s narrative, letters like they’re letters and history like it’s history.
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These three chapters have always really confused me in the Bible. I’ve left reading them with my head puzzled more than once. And well, since we read them in the Chi Alpha Bookmark plan today, I thought I would say a few things about them that have helped me over the years.
- “Sometimes you’re doing to do everything right and still get pounded.” I’ll never forget Dick Brogden saying this at SICM a couple of years ago. Yes, that’s what happens sometimes. The Christian life isn’t always easy and sometimes you get pounded. That’s what happens to the Israelites when they go up to attack the Benjamites. They were doing the right thing in avenging the wrong. But, they still got pounded and that’s how it goes sometimes.
- The last verse of Judges, Verse 25. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” This is what was happening here. Everyone was doing as they saw fit. Everyone did as they wished. And it was chaos. We can read the text and scream about what we read and wonder why it’s all happening. It’s because Israel forsook her true King, YHWH, and was doing as everyone saw fit. The narrator is not telling us that YHWH wanted these things to happen or that YHWH willed them to happen. The narrator is communicating that everyone was doing as they saw fit and it was chaos.
Hopefully, those thoughts help you as much as they have helped me over the years. Anything else you would add that has helped?
I got a text from a student last night linking to a video sermon. Much to my surprise it was my homeboy, Ryan Levis. I found myself very encouraged from it and thought I would share.
You can check it out here.
Ryan hits the nail on the head when it comes to the journey of desire. We must desire the Kingdom of God. We must desire the things of God. And as we long for them, we live for them.
I’ve found when the months grow cold, it gets harder for me to get up in the morning and have consistent devotional time. But, if I desire it, and build my night and day around it, it becomes more likely. I must go to bed at night, desiring to get up the next morning and spend intentional time with Jesus.
In my relationships, they go better when I am longing for Jesus and His kingdom. I’m nicer, I’m kinder, I give more grace and forgiveness (Ryan makes some excellent points about forgiveness in the sermon, btw!).
But it all starts with desire.
So, what are you desiring today?
We’ve been trying to teach our kids to pray. How to have conversation with God and listen to Him. Luckily, we’ve had a lot of help from their preschool, other friends and family, church life and what not. Our kids do seem to like praying and they are praying, I do believe that.
And well, Levi is on a bit of hot streak right now.
The other night he prayed for Katie’s headache to go away on his way to bed. It did. He got up the next morning so excited to ask Katie if it went away because God told Him it would. It did.
Then he prayed for my truck to stop acting up. It did. I think I should still replace the instrument cluster, but it’s working right now.
This got me thinking as to what I should do next…
And I realized there’s only one primary answer to that.
Ever feel like you’ve gotten in a rut and can’t get out of it? Like there’s something you want to do or stop doing but you can’t or just haven’t?
I wish I wrote more stuff down.
I have gone in and out of my journaling life as a Christian. Some times I keep journals, sometimes I don’t. I used to write in my Bible and then I stopped. Not very consistent, huh?
I stopped writing my in my Bible because it got hard to preach out of it with all those notes in there. When I stopped doing that, I stopped writing things down all together. There was no reason for those two to go hand in hand, but they did.
I started a moleskine (I know I’m so trendy!). But I’ve wanted to begin writing in my Bible again. Something about having it all there tangibly and the physical act of writing is helpful for me. So I broke down and ordered this.
Lay flat, journaling Bible.
I feel like a big of a nerd considering I preordered it and how excited I got when it came. But, it’s all good.
The start of a new year encouraged me to break out of this rut and start a new trajectory.
I’m excited to see how this practice and discipline can help me continue to grow in a real devotional life this next year.
How do you intend on taking your real devotional life to the next level in 2016?
Semester Breaks are always a great time for me to read a couple of books that I’ve had waiting around just begging to be read. Now is one of those times, so here’s a small list I hope to tackle this break. I hope this will be the beginning of a list…
The Advantage by Lencioni – here Lencioni summarizes five of his other favorites and should provide many helpful insights!
Bloodlines by Piper – who knew Piper wrote a book on racism? I had no idea but I can’t wait to see how he helps us think about the gospel and race.
Center Church by Keller – this textbook has been on my list for a while and I hope it will help to cement some thoughts and action points concerning some of the future thoughts for XA at UVA.
Centennial by Michener – WATCH OUT! THERE’S A FICTION BOOK ON JOSH’S LIST. What should we do? Frankly, I’m not sure either but Scott Martin said I would enjoy it and he’s my boss (and he bought it for me!). So, let’s give it a go.
What’s current on your reading list?
I thought I’d take a little time to share my devotional routine. In this post, I’ll share how I read and what I read. Maybe it will be of some help, maybe you’ll offer some help to me.
Part of being a college minister is this thing called Winter Break. Some of you may remember it from your college days, and some of you may still be in the middle of it. It’s a nice two week period for me (a full month for college students) where I can recover from the previous semester and begin to get ready for the next semester. After the jump I’ll show you what I did over break, including some pictures.
Last night I got the chance to listen to John Stackhouse speak on the Problem of Evil. I told you this was coming up and told you I would let you know some of my thoughts and throw the audio online when we got it. So, the audio is above and my thoughts are below.
First, I really enjoyed Stackhouse. He was clever, he was witty, he was borderline inappropriate but mostly just hilarious. It was very refreshing from someone from the academy.
Second, I found his argument to be compelling intellectually. His logical progression seemed to hold and made sense. I wandered if this was because I’m already a Christian during the lecture but there really weren’t any questions that attacked his logic in the Q&A session. I also conferred with the interns on Tuesday morning to make sure it was an intellectual argument (I’m not afraid to admit they’re smarter than me) and they confirmed that it was.
Third, I loved that he ended with the answer being Jesus. It was refreshing. It was honest. And it was helpful. I so appreciate a scholar who doesn’t come in and tell us how smart he is and how awesome he is and how we all need to understand the Ancient Near East and read 15 languages to get it. Nope, the answer is Jesus. And if you don’t know that, he encouraged us to read for ourselves. I found this to be very helpful for me.
Now, some of my takeaways or big points throughout the lecture.
1. There is no such thing as evil. Evil is not a thing. It was not created. Things are evil. Things can be bad. People can be evil. People can be bad. But there is no such thing or force or black mass that is evil. I enjoyed this thought. I’ve been struck by this idea since a retreat on Revelation the other year. The last battle won’t be an epic battle. Jesus will say it’s over and it will be over. There are no competing forces, God is God and the devil is not. It’s not a cosmic battle between good and evil the way that we sometimes think it is.
2. Faith depends on knowledge. Fascinating thought. I often think I have to just accept things on faith, sola fide. Just faith. Don’t think, just faith. But faith depends on knowledge. We must know God to have faith in Him. We need to know that He is good, he is benevolent, He is just, He is righteous. It is appropriate for us to ask why is there a problem of evil.
3. The goal is shalom, the goal is not happiness. We have to understand this. The goal is order, peace, reign of God, fullness. The goal was never just happiness.
4. It’s a complex process. Can you imagine the flow chart God would have to show us to explain all of it. We couldn’t handle it. We are going to have to trust.
which leads us to the final point, the best point of the night.
5. We need to take Luther’s advice and flee the hidden God and run to Christ. When we see disaster, when we see death, when we see evil. We need to flee the God that is hidden, the one that is unseen, the one that we can’t quite figure out and run to the God we have seen, the image of the invisible God, Jesus Christ. Since we know they are the same. They are part of the triune God. We can focus on what, or who, we know. We can run to Jesus. Trust Him. Love Him. Know Him.
I would take it a step further than Stackhouse did, and he may have done with more time, and say that we can trust Him because our God has wounds. The problem of evil is solved on the cross. There we get the God whom we can trust. The God that suffered for us. The God that entered our suffering. The God that knows our pain. The God that sees and feels and lives and suffered.
And the God that won the victory over sin, hell, and the grave. That gives us hope and promise and freedom!
Let me know your thoughts on the lecture or on my takeaways below.
I’ve lived a good life. Had anything and everything my heart could long for (other than a Silverado, but that’s cuz my brother stole it).
I have tasted loss but not like others.
I’ve gotten the short end of the stick a time or two. But not like others.
But that doesn’t mean that the problem of evil, of suffering, of wrong, isn’t a question that I often think about.