Okay, so it’s Valentine’s Day so I’ll do this:
Jenn and I met after a youth group activity in Saint Simon’s Island at a McDonalds.
I wasn’t even supposed to have gone to the event. The people I was going with left me but my sister and her friends gave me a ride. I’m sitting with them at McDonalds wearing a light blue Fernandina Beach fishing cap with the front flipped up and I see this girl. My first thought, “That is the cutest girl I have ever seen.” Not fine (they say “hot” now)… cute. Cute as all get out. Like the standard of what cute is measured by. A strong cuteness. It was better than “fine” it was real. I had to talk to her.
I never would have except that she was in line to get food and happened to be with a friend of mine. I went up and started talking to Shannon, or whatever her name was, and soon enough I had met Jennifer. [click to continue…]
I put the word out a month ago that though I wasn’t ready to go full-out podcasting on my own, I’d be happy to get my feet wet again with some guest-hosting invitations. Here is a short list of interviews I’ve done if you’d like to check them out. [click to continue…]
Last time I said we would talk more about the importance of, and methods for, getting Biblical scripture in into yourself. So today we’ll be focusing on the point and purpose of scripture study… Life Application.
If you haven’t yet read “Look At Your Fish“ and “A Text Without a Context Is a Pretext“ as this is a continuation of those two articles.
The Bible seems clear on the point that what you believe matters, but what you do matters more. James 2:19 says that even the demons believe in God (and it freaks them out). They naturally don’t allow that knowledge to affect their lives or put into practice anything they learn of him. James doesn’t equate a person with no actions with a demon, but he does say “You want ‘Christian-Cred’ for believing? Heck, the devil believes.” Believing only apparently doesn’t give you something that I’ve now coined as Christian-cred.
We downplay life application. Works don’t save us, we say, and that is true, but works are how we show our faith. I often say that works won’t save you, but they’ll keep you saved. [click to continue…]
Welcome to part two of what is now a series on the basics of studying scripture. There are so many who do it wrong. Some very famous personalities regularly take scriptures out of context to make a point they decided was true in advance. It’s called a Topical Sermon, and I was taught that pastor’s should only preach one a year, and ask forgiveness afterward. Entire cults are formed based around a single scripture taken out of context. It’s good to read the Bible. It’s better to read it and understand what is being communicated. [click to continue…]
Today I am going to perform an exercise I learned from a class called Exegetical Studies. Exegesis is a fancy, scary word that means to find the meaning in a passage or portion of a text, especially the Bible.
The exercise does not in anyway full encompase the proper exegeting of scripture, but it is a good start. My professor, Pastor, and hero Dr. George W. Westlake introduced me to the concept he called “Look at Your Fish!” taken from a story by Samuel H. Scudder, and American entomologist who studdied under zoologist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (read the short article here). In a nutshell Professor Agassiz forces his students to make observations about a fish in a jar, for days and days.
My Professor Westlake urged us to start our studies by making observations about the text itself. Not based on other supporting scripture. Not personal experience, but really digging in and writing out every single detail that the verse communicated with no outside influence.
It was the first step in a process that resulted in a greater understanding of how to study and pull the truest meaning from Biblical scripture. I hope you enjoy my little experiment and will give it a shot on one of your favorite verse… and just when you think you’re done… “Look at your fish!”
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
Psalm 33:4-5 NIV
Here we go:
- The word is the Lord’s.
- The Lord’s word is right.
- It is also true.
- The Lord’s word is not wrong. It is not a lie.
- It’s not just right. It’s right and true.
- The Lord is faithful.
- The Lord does not stop what he is doing halfway.
- Everything the Lord is doing is dependable.
- The Lord does a lot of things. All done faithfully.
- The word of the Lord is dependable because He is dependable.
- His word is supported by his actions.
- The rightness and trueness of his word is due to the faithfulness in all he does.
- If he were not faithful, his word would be wrong and a lie.
- The Lord loves righteousness.
- He loves rightness.
- He loves justice.
- He loves just-ness.
- He does not love wrongness.
- He loves them together.
- The earth is full of his unfailing love.
- His love does not fail.
- The Lord does things. He is active.
- He Lord’s love fills the earth. Fills is the verb.
- His love fills. An action. Therefore a faithful action since he is faithful in all he does.
- The love of the lord is unfailing // faithful.
- The opposite of faithful would be failure here.
- The word of the Lord is right and true – as is apparent from his faithfulness
- He loves rightness and just-ness – as is apparent from an earth full of unfailing love.
- His faithful actions prove his word is right and true.
- His unfailing love proves he loves rightness and just-ness.
Now try it with your favorite verse or better yet a verse you are unfamiliar with. Pull as many truths from the text as possible. See what “Looking at the Fish” can do for your bible study.
Read the next entry in this series on studying the Bible: A Text Without A Context is a Pretext
I sang the lyrics from “Let it Go” the hit song from Disney’s movie Frozen… into Siri. Here are the best results from two attempts. I thought it was pretty funny. Here’s a link to the actual “Let It Go” lyrics.
“Let It Go”
The snow clothes line on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
The kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the Queen.
The wind is howling like this whirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in the avenues try
Don’t lead then man, don’t let them seek
Be there Google are you always have to be
Concealed, downfield, all that Danno
Will now they know who
That a go, leg go
Can’t hold back anymore
Or let it go, let it go
Turn the ways land the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Love the storm raids on
Nichole never bothered me anyway.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 NIV
These are words spoken by Jesus to the famous Samaritan Woman at the Well. Jesus was more or less on the run from the Pharisees on his way back to Galilee. Jesus and his Disciples traveled through Samaria and through the city of Sychar. Jesus, tired from his journey has a seat near the well at around noon.
Jesus was alone. His disciples had gone to get food. A Samaritan woman came to get some water, at noon. This is apparently not the time women get their water. She was an outcast. Not only because she was Samaritan and the Jews considered Samaritans half-breeds, idol worshipers and false-Jews. She was an outcast even among her own people. Jesus later tells her why. Because she has been with five husbands and is living with a man who is not her husband at all. I love that Jesus, though acknowledges her sin, seems to be thrilled that she told the truth about it. “You are right when you say you have no husband,” he says, and ends with, “What you have said is quite true.” [click to continue…]
If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking. James 1:5 CEV
I like the book of James. It’s not just that we share the same name… we see the working out of our faith very similarly.
Our verse today finds itself in the very first portion of the very first chapter of James. It is a part of the introduction to a letter. The verse also lays out one of the main themes of the book: Wisdom. In our verse James instructs the church that if they need wisdom, God is the one to ask. Sounds simple, and it is, but we’re due a little digging. [click to continue…]
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh,from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 (NIV)
God Cannot Be Mocked?
The first part of Galatians 6:7 sounds so hard and mighty. I can’t read it without hearing a thundering preacher in my head. “GOD CANNOT BE MOCKED!” Then the voice trails off with threats about how God will destroy us all or something just as horrible. Out of context this seems like a lie. God can be mocked. So I had to address this issue first, for my own sake if anything. [click to continue…]
I saw a comic strip today on Facebook. A little boy is standing before his bedraggled mom and apparently has some bad news. The caption reads, “Before I tell you what happened, Mom, remember… the Lord will never give you more than you can handle.”
Har har. It’s rare I find stuff like this funny. And though it was drawn well, the joke definitely goes in the “Christian Cheese” category (which I’m sure I will write about at a later date). I mention it because the caption is an example of a concept that many Christians believe but is completely untrue. Many believe that God will not allow any circumstances to come along that we can’t handle. I’ve heard people quote it. I’ve heard Pastors reference it from the pulpit. [click to continue…]