Sunday, August 14, 2016

30 days of #StuffILike

The hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” expresses my life #StuffILike #hymn
The @ESVBible is my daily read. #Bible #StuffILike
The Reformation Study Bible @RefStudyBible #Bible #StuffILike
Weird Al Yankovic always makes me laugh. @alyankovic #StuffILike #music
My brand new Moto G4 Plus. Ignore the naysayers. Get the 64Gb version. #motog4plus #StuffILike
Major Crimes @MajorCrimesTNT #TV #StuffILike
King And Maxwell novels. I get the audiobooks from my public #library. @davidbaldacci #mystery #thriller #StuffILike
Lord Of The Rings (The books). One day someone will make a movie out of it. Hasn’t happened yet. #LOTR #StuffILike
Beef #StuffILike #food
Coffee (try @counter_culture Forty-Six — it’s incredible) #coffee #StuffILike
Writing programs in #Python @ThePSF #StuffILike
Watching Arrow. I'm starting season 3 on netflix. @CW_Arrow #StuffILike
Cricket Wireless @Cricketnation #StuffILike #cellphone
In the hands of the doctors, who were cm in the hand of God, #Levaquin saved my life. #StuffILike
Grammar Girl @GrammarGirl #grammar #StuffILike
Demotivational posters & stuff from @DespairInc #StuffILike (favorite:
This song #StuffILike @PMJOfficial
My Kindle #books #kindle @AmazonKindle #StuffILike
Ro-Tel dip @ro_tel #food #StuffILike
Air conditioning. Hey, it's hot in Georgia in the summer. #StuffILike
Listened to The Rolling Stones by Robert A. #Heinlein in the hospital. The rant about cars is worth the entire price. #audiobook #StuffILike
Classical #music (in the general sense) #StuffILike
Barbeque: Pulled pork, ribs, brisket, chicken #food #StuffILike
Teaching my adult #BibleStudy class. #StuffILike
Learning from @Ligonier Ministries #StuffILIke
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert #StuffILike
Where the heck is Matt? @WhereTheHIsMatt #StuffILike (hint: he's not with Waldo)
It's not a comedy. It's a documentary. @DailyDilbert #StuffILike
Hooked On Classics. I should be ashamed, but I’m not. #music #StuffILike (Amazon Prime members listen for free:
My @AmazonKindle #StuffILike

Sunday, January 31, 2016

400 years

Just as the descendants of Israel (Jacob)  were in Egypt for 400 years before Moses came to deliver them, so they went 400 years without any word from God before Jesus came deliver the whole world.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Nerd Who Lived

The infection

Sometime in the first part of December, 2015, I was exposed to Legionnaires’ disease. Yes, the one from American Legion convention of 1976. This is an especially dangerous form of pneumonia. Consult the web sites for the CDC, the Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health, or Wikipedia for more details.

Jennie & I have been over it several times, but we can’t be sure where I picked up the infection or why I seemed to be the only one affected (we both went just about anyplace I would have been exposed). This is a “reportable disease,” so the local health department has been informed of everywhere we remember going, and they (are required to?) report this to the CDC. In other words, it’s a Big Deal. A Big, Hairy Deal. A Big, Fat, Hairy Deal.

A couple of days before my vacation started (December 17, so call it the 15th or 16th), I started feeling a little woozy at work. It wasn’t a big deal at that time — just a little under the weather. On the 17th, we went to a nice dinner at a restaurant (a national franchise) and then went to see the Star Wars premier with a few hundred close friends.

On December 23 (Wednesday), I was feeling worse, so I went to a walk-in clinic (not an urgent care facility). I was taking acetominophen and ibuprofen at regular intervals, but it wasn’t doing any good. I was told to keep it up.

I wasn’t improved any on Christmas Day (Friday, per the Western church’s calendar), so even though I sat with the family to open presents, I didn’t eat Christmas Dinner with everyone. Jennie brought me a portion of the steak — Michael is an expert on the grill — and baked sweet potatoes, so I got to eat. Just not with everyone else.

On December 27 (Sunday), I was in even worse shape: Fever, chills, achiness, and respiratory problems had finally set in. They prescribed a standard antibiotic. It did no good.

The hospital

On December 29 (Tuesday), Jennie talked me into going to the Wellstar Urgent Care facility in Acworth. After they quickly checked me in (my medical insurance is associated with this health system), they took my vital signs and performed a chest X-ray. The next thing I knew, I was on a gurney, in an ambulance, and on my way to the hopital with an oxygen mask strapped to my face. This is the sort of thing ordinary people (and I!) can (and should) classify as Bad News.

It’s also the last thing I distinctly remember until Monday, January 4.

I’m told that the dose of sedative given to most people 2 pills, but for me it took 8. (Who’s not a fan of the coffee-swilling Dilbert character, Wally?)

I’m told that at some point I made motions like writing with one hand on a pad held in the other. (I vaguely remember this, but I might be constructing a “memory” based on being told about it.) Given my wife’s tablet computer, I “wrote” a few “words,” but their centent and meaning were indecipherable. Apparently, I hadn’t had enough coffee in several days (see previous paragraph).

I’m also told that at some point, I tried to remove the ventilator, but my wife stopped me and told me I couldn’t. I took a weak swipe at her, but without much enthusiasm (see 2 paragraphs back).

I’m told that on Sunday, January 3, I succeeded in removing the ventilator. Without coffee. After this, I was (ahem) restrained.

Noonish or after on Monday, January 4, nurses removed the ventilator (the official way), and then they woke me up.

Before I go further, stop now and go read my daughter Hannah’s brief essay, Lessons from the Waiting Room. This is from someone who’s learning to trust God, and to understand his sovereignty. And she’s my daughter. (Did I already say that? Pay no attention to me. I’m with her.)

I was told then that I had survived the worst form of bacterial pneumonia. Back on the 29th, the ambulance had taken me to the Emergency Room, do not pass go, etc., and I was put on multiple antibiotics. I was admitted to the ICU from there. After the cultures finally grew, I was reduced to the one that is the standard go-to medication for Legionnaires’ disease, and recovery continued apace. At the time I write this (Wednesday, January 13), I’m at home with about a week of the antibiotic regimen left. I’m still weak, but my strength and balance improve daily.

After I awoke last Monday, people came through my room in the ICU at a fairly steady clip, and except for time I asked to rest, I wasn’t alone until lights out that night.

I woke up around 3 in the morning Monday night/Tuesday morning, and thought about what might have happened. What could have happened. What almost happened. I began to shed quiet tears, and I called out, “I am so grateful to be alive!” And I still am. When I told Jennie about this later, she said, “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you!” and I said, “Why? I wasn’t talking to you.” But I should have been. She’s not the sovereign God who loves me and carries me all the way through, but she was a glove on his hand to save my life.

My condition improved steadily while I was in the hospital. The peculiar antibiotic used for Legionnaires’ disease (skipping medico-nerdy stuff — read one of the articles linked above for details) is well-known, and the treatment discipline is well-defined, however rare it is.

Home and grace

I have been home since Friday, January 8, and I keep getting better every day. I have another week or so on the antibiotic, and I anticipate full recovery.

And I anticipate continued reliance on the grace and love of my Savior, and of the glove on his hand (and occasionally, the pointy-toed boot on his foot for correcting me in sometimes uncomfortable ways), my wife Jennie.

[Reference to my current situation obvious]
Come Thou Fount of every blessing. Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.

[Why Ebenezer? This is a fixed point I want to remember for the rest of my life.]
Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’m come,
and I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God.
[The sinless life and innocent death of Jesus is my only rescue.]
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

[But that fixed point does not end my dependence on God.]
O! to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
[If you don’t feel it, I don’t think you’re being honest with yourself.]
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love —
Here’s my heart, O! take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

How do we know God keeps his promises?

This was the outline for the lesson on 2015-10-25, on Genesis 15.


Last week, we saw Abram was set apart by God, promised land and descendants and the blessing of all the families of the world; and he was called by God to leave his family, leave his hometown, leave everything and go. And he went.

After that, he went to Egypt and was kicked out with more than he went in with.

Then he and Lot had to separate because they had so many flocks & heards that they couldn’t stay in the same place. Lot chose the low country around the Jordan River, and Abram took the hill country on the west. When a bunch of kings where Lot was living rebelled against the kings they were paying tribute to, the other kings came and took Lot and all off as captives. When Abram rescued them, he gave a tithe to Melchizedek (remember him from when we studied Hebrews), but refused to accept anything from the king of Sodom.

That brings us to today’s chapter.

The promise of children

  • READ 15:1
  • READ 15:2–3
  • READ 15:4–5
  • ASK When God appears, why does he always say, “Fear not”? (Because he’s not a teddy bear — he’s the creator of everything — immense power — so it’s natural to be afraid.)
  • ASK What does Abram ask God about? (How he can have children: He was 75 when he started exploring Canaan, and Sarai was 65, and now it’s more years down the road.) ASK Why does he ask twice? (Because he was having a hard time believing God’s promise.)
  • SAY It is okay to go to God with your complaint. God doesn’t give Abram a hard time for asking repeatedly, and if something is weighing on your heart, you are free to take it to him over and over.
  • Could Abram count the stars? What if he had a good view of the Milky Way — about 100,000,000,000 stars that look like a ribbon across the sky. If he could count the Milky Way at 1 star per second, it would take him 3,100 years to count them all. That was God’s promise to Abram. And if you are trusting in Abram’s God, one of those stars stands for you.
  • READ 15:6
  • This is one of the most important verses in the whole Old Testament. It’s quoted 4 times in the New Testament. (2 times in Romans, 1 time in Galatians, 1 time in James)
  • “Counted,” “credited,” “reckoned.” These words all mean the same thing. It’s an accounting term: Abram believed God, and God put it on his books as righteousness.
    • ASK What did Abram do? (Believe God)
    • ASK What did God do? (count Abram’s belief as righteousness)
    • ASK What does righteousness mean? (Always doing the right thing)
    • ASK Did Abram do the right thing for the rest of his life? (No. In the very next chapter, he takes his wifes handmaid as a concubine, and they have a child who is not related to the promise. And in chapter 20, he tells another king that Sarai is not his wife. Abram’s track record for actual righteousness after this point isn’t very good.)
    • SAY But consider where he came from: He worshipped false gods before he was called, and now he believes the God who called him. He’s moving in the right direction.
      • You should always be confessing your sins and repenting of them.
      • But once in a while — not constantly — you should make an assessment of where you are spiritually.
      • As a friend used to say, “If you’re constantly taking your pulse, you’ve lost the use of one hand.”

The covenant

  • READ 15:7
  • READ 15:8
  • READ 15:9–11
  • God is getting ready to answer Abram’s question.
  • READ 15:12–14
  • READ 15:15–16
  • So here is God’s promise to Abram spelled out in some detail. This is what is going to happen through the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
  • ASK How long is it going to take for God to fulfill the promise to Abram? (400 years)
  • ASK Will everything that happens in that 400 years be good? (Of course not: slavery and mistreatment)
  • ASK When they leave the land they have been slaves in, will they just go off to die in the desert? (No, they will come out with “great possessions”)
  • ASK What is another reason for the delay? (So the sins of the Amorites will be complete)
    • Will God judge the Amorites unjustly? (No. They will deserve their punishment.)

The guarantee

  • READ 15:17
  • And I thought the visions Ezekiel had were weird.
  • What’s going on here?
    • Fire & smoke: The same things God led the people of Israel with when they exited Egypt.
    • But why the parade between the cut-up animals?
    • READ Jeremiah 34:18: “And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts.”
    • This idea of passing through the animals to make a sign of the covenant was deeply ingrained in all the cultures around, i.e., not just the descendants of Abram.
      • Ruth said it to Naomi when she promised go with her — and Ruth wasn’t an Israelite. (Ruth 1:17)
      • Solomon said it when he had just been coronated and one of his brothers was positioning himself as a rival to the throne. (1 Kings 2:23)
      • Even Jezebel said it, swearing by her false gods when she swore to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:2)
    • What God is saying when the torch and the smoking oven pass between the carcasses is, “This is so serious that if it does not come to pass, I will be cut up like these animals.
    • This is God committing himself to the path along which all the familiies of the whole world (12:3) will be blessed through a descendant of Abram. ASK Who is this descendant of Abram? (Jesus)
  • SAY This is how we know God keeps his promise to save us: He has staked his own life on it.
  • SAY And to love us, Jesus took the punishment for our sins on himself, so that, like Abraham, we can be counted righteous by grace, through faith.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Toward the goal

This is the lesson from 2014-12-28. Amazingly, it went pretty much according to the outline.


In most murder mysteries, the murder occurs at the beginning and the bulk of the story is the pursuit of the solution — discovering who the murderer is. In Toward Zero, however, Agatha Christie began with the buildup, telling the story of how the murder was to be committed, and then, when it happens, the detective, who has been observing the people, knows the solution immediately.

Today’s lesson in Ezra is like that: People are gathered, work is begun and then halted and then resumed, and it’s all heading toward something.


A few years ago, we were studying 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles, which run in parallel to each other. At the very end, the kingdom of Judah is conquered, and many of the people are carried off into Babylon. Then the Babylonians are conquered by the Persians. But then, just before the end of 2 Chronicles, the Persian emperor decrees that peoples conquered by the Babylonians back to their ancestral homes.

And the book of Ezra begins by repeating those words of Cyrus, the Persian emperor, from the end of 2 Chronicles.


  • READ 1:1
  • READ 1:2–3
  • READ 1:4
  • READ 1:5
  • SAY Don’t read too much into Cyrus’s words here: This doesn’t translate into his belief in the “God of heaven.” He used similar, culturally appropriate language for every group he was repatriating to its homeland.
  • SAY On the other hand, don’t read too little into it either. God made it so that this change in emperors (this was the “first year of Cyrus”) and change in policy would be in place. God had a plan. Remember what Proverbs 21:1 says: The king’s heart goes wherever God directs it.

The altar and the beginning of the temple

  • SAY So the people migrate, and they get settled in. And then …
  • READ 3:1–3
  • So the daily burnt offerings are in place.
  • We don’t live under their sacrificial system. ASK But do we have anything that should happen on a regular schedule like the daily burnt offerings?
    • Don’t neglect assembling togther (Hebrews)
    • The blessed man meditates on God’s law day and night (Psalm 1)
  • READ 3:4–6
  • ASK What’s missing? (the temple)
  • READ 3:10–11
  • SAY The work on the temple is begun — the foundation is laid and there is great rejoicing! However …
  • READ 3:12–13
  • ASK Why was there weeping? (the new was not a good as the old)


  • Let’s rewind a few decades: When the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom, and the Babylonians later conquered Jerusalem and carried people off, they also imported captives from other lands they conquered into Judea.
  • The superstition commonly held by almost everyone (except the Jews) was that gods were attached to places. When you went somewhere, you worshipped the local gods. So when the Assyrians imported people, they brought in a priest to teach the new poeple about the local gods. What did these people do when the temple was started?
  • READ 4:2
  • ASK Without reading ahead: Would we have accepted their help if we were there?
  • ASK How much help should we expect from the culture around us? How much of the culture’s help should we ask for?
    • What about, for instance, our tax deductions for our giving to the church?
  • The answer: READ 4:3
  • The result: READ 4:4–5
  • And a letter was sent to the new emperor, who replied that they had to stop building the temple.

The resumption

  • READ 5:1–2
  • This is many years later.
  • Notice that the rebuilding didn’t wait for the government’s permission.
  • There’s a new set of civil servants in place.
    • It has been several years. There haven’t been any major rebellions, so the Jews are known to be good citizens.
    • The civil servants aren’t opposed to the building of the temple. They just want to check the permits.
    • They send a letter to the new emperor, Darius. He has the records checked and finds that the Jews are just doing what was commanded 2 or 3 emperors back, and he makes provision for everything to be done.
  • Finally, the temple is finished.

The passover

  • READ 6:16
  • There was still something missing that they had waited to have the temple for.
  • READ 6:19
  • SAY This is what they’ve been driving toward. They couldn’t keep the passover without the temple. Why did they need the Passover? From their point of view, it was to commemorate the miracles God performed to get their ancestors out of Egypt a thousand years earlier. But from our point of view, it’s because it tells us of Jesus.
    • God’s firstborn — only-born — being sacrificed for our sins, in our place.
    • God passes over our sins because the penalty for them has been exacted.
    • Century after century, the Passover as a type (remember: a person, object, or event that prefigures Jesus) was performed and was now resumed. It was preparing the way so that Jesus would be recognized.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Good News: Great Joy!

This is the outline of the lesson from 2014-12-21.


  • ASK What is your favorite Christmas movie?
  • ASK What is your favorite Christmas song (hymn, secular, whatever)?
  • ASK What is your favorite family Christmas tradition?
  • SAY When I was growing up, whoever in our family was in town would gather on Christmas Eve, and we would read the Christmas story from Luke 2, around in a circle, one verse at a time. So that’s what we’re going to do now.
  • HAND OUT the handout, and read it in a circle.


  • We already read about the shepherds.
    • ASK What are some of the things we’ve heard about them? (Low-lifes, tended the sheep for the official sacrifices, etc)
    • ASK How much do we know from the text? (Not much)
    • SAY From external sources, we know
      • they were not allowed to testify in court;
      • Pig farmers were worse than shepherds.
  • When Michael & Andrew were little, they would say, “It’s dark at night,” and we thought it was cute. But darkness was something the shepherds understood. So when the glory of the Lord shone around them and there was an angel there, they were terrified. So the angel said “Don’t be afraid.”
  • ASK Why not be afraid? (Good news: great joy)
    • Good news = Gospel
    • I looked at a lot of translations, and there were 2 basic ways to phrase this:
      • Good news that brings or causes great joy
      • Good news of great joy
    • ASK (Thinking question) Can you see a difference between them?
      • The good news results in great joy, vs.
      • The good news is great joy.
    • ASK What is the source of the joy?
      • For unto you is born (Isaiah 9:6) Savior/Christ/Lord
        • “Savior” = “Joshua” = “Jesus”
        • “Christ” = “Messiah”
        • “Lord” = “God” (Psalm 110:1)
  • What does “multitude of the heavenly host” mean? (The army of heaven)
    • Why an army? (READ Joshua 5:13–14a) The angels were there because their commander was taking a new form — a baby.
    • What was the army doing? (Saying “Glory to God …”)
    • READ TOGETHER 2:14.
    • “Peace” — An army is there declaring peace. We aren’t talking about the old Yugoslavia, where they had peace at the pointy end of a gun. And we aren’t talking about warm fuzzies. Or the peace of God, i.e., the peace that God has within himself. (We can have that, too, but that’s not what it means here.) We’re talking about peace with God the way Romans 5 talks about it: No longer at war with God.

At the barn

  • They go and find Jesus, wrapped up and in the feed trough just the way the angel said. And they told people.
  • “All who heard it wondered,” as in finding it wondrous, wonderful.
  • God had Luke learn about this and write it down for us, so that we can wonder, too.
    • Wonder at the Savior — the one who came to pay for your sins.
    • Wonder at the Messiah — the one who came to free his people from their slavery to sin.
    • Wonder at the Lord — the one who “rules the world in truth and grace.”
  • And this is the message we have: A Savior (Jesus), Christ the Lord.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Filled with devils

And, though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim — we tremble not for him! His rage we can endure, for look! his doom is sure: One little word shall fell him! That word, above all earthly powers, (no thanks to them) abideth. The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go — this mortal life also. The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wisdom’s invitation

This is the lesson for March 9, 2014. I'm setting this to be on the blog some time during the week after, so I have no idea yet how it went or how much of it I got through.

“Wisdom is deep insight into how things work.” — Greg Koukl


Solomon, when he wrote the proverbs, was soaked in the scriptures he had available at the time. Remember the command in Deuteronomy 17: The king had to make a copy of (at least) Deuteronomy — perhaps the entire pentateuch — in his own hand.

First call of wisdom: 1:20–28

  • READ 1:20–22
  • Wisdom
    • is available
    • wants to be heard
  • Different kinds of people who don’t have wisdom
    • Simple: Directionless, easily swayed
    • Fool: Rejects wisdom
    • Scoffer: Makes fun of wisdom
  • READ 1:23
  • ASK What is the benefit of listening to wise warnings?
  • READ 1:24–28
  • ASK What is the cost of ignoring wise warnings? (It will be too late.)

Second call of wisdom: 2:1–8

  • READ 2:1–4
  • READ 2:5–8
  • ASK What is our part in obtaining wisdom?
    • Pay attention (v.1)
    • Remember (v.1)
    • Incline your heart (OT: heart is the equivalent of modern brain) (v.2)
    • Ask God for it (v.3)
    • Consider it a treasure (v.4)
  • ASK What is the immediate result of seeking wisdom?
    • “Fear of the Lord”
    • the knowledge of God
    • ASK Are these 2 different things?
    • SAY Dan Phillips says that the “fear of the Lord” in the OT is equivalent to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” in the NT
  • ASK What is God’s part in our obtaining wisdom?
    • He gives it.
    • His word is wisdom.
    • ASK Do we get it by deserving it? (No)
    • It’s like your salvation: It’s yours because God gave it to you.

Trust in the Lord

  • READ 3:1–4
  • Sounds just like Joshua 1:8. (Maybe by Solomon had to copy Joshua and Judges as well.)
  • Where else do we hear the phrase “in the sight of God and man”? (Luke 2:52, where Jesus, as a boy, had been demonstrating his wisdom to the teachers in the temple)

A command and a promise and a way to interpret (some) hardship

  • SAY Generally, Proverbs is a book of insight and principle, not promises. But here we have a command, and obeying this command brings something that looks like a promise.
  • READ 3:5–6
  • Our hearts warm with verses like 5 & 6. But remember about “heart”: it means “brain” or “mind”.
  • How easy would it be to just say “I’m trusting God for everything” and then turn around and be passive about knowing him, about acquiring wisdom? But that would be the exact opposite of what the whole book of Proverbs is about.
  • How much do we hear verse 7?
  • READ 3:7–10
  • These sound like promises of health and wealth. Are they?
  • READ 3:11–12
  • This is quoted in Hebrews 12. God’s promise there and in, e.g., Romans 8:28, is that our hardship is for our good.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Fish & forgiveness

This is the lesson from February 23. Amazingly, I think I remember getting through all of it.


  • SAY Peter decided to go fishing, and 6 other disciples went with him.
  • READ 21:4–5
  • READ 21:6–7
  • ASK Why didn’t they catch any fish all night, and then caught almost more than they could handle?
  • ASK How did John recognize Jesus? (He remembered the experience in Luke 5:1–11, when Peter fell at Jesus’s knees and said, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man!”)
  • SAY They pulled the fish up on the shore, and Jesus had breakfast ready for them.
  • READ 21:12b–13
  • What did this remind them of? (Feeding of the 5,000)


  • READ 21:15
  • ASK What did Jesus mean by “more than these”?
    • More than the other disciples?
    • More than the living he could make fishing?
  • READ 21:16
  • READ 21:17
  • READ 21:18
  • Some people think there’s something in the way the differentiation of the Greek words for “love,” others think there’s no essential difference in the way John uses these words when he writes.
    • We use love to mean different things as well:
      • “We say we love Coca-Cola, and we love mother’s hot apple pie. We say we love Captain Kangaroo — we say we do, but we lie!”
  • It’s also not much use to try to differentiate between Jesus saying “sheep” & “lambs” or “tend” and “feed”.
    • SAY The point is to match up forgiveness for Peter with Peter’s denial of Jesus: 3 times around a charcoal fire.
    • Also, Peter took this as Jesus giving him advice for pastoring. And he passed this along to the pastors who came after him. READ 1 Peter 5:1–4
  • SAY We sin. If you have sinned, and you think or feel you’re up against the limit of what God is willing to forgive, remember Peter. Jesus took forgiveness to Peter in a way he couldn’t mistake, and he has the same forgiveness for you and me when we sin.

Oh! to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be.
Let thy goodness like a fetter
bind my wand’ring heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it —
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart. Oh, take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The resurrected Jesus

This is the lesson from 2014-02-16. I am scheduling it in advance, so I can’t talk about what we did or did not get to, or even whether we got to the lesson. Sometimes prayer needs outweigh the need for me to talk. This is not “big church,” so the priorities are different, and that’s okay.

Peter & John at the tomb

  • READ 20:1–2
  • READ 20:3–5
  • READ 20:6–9

  • SAY Jesus had been teaching his disciples that he would be killed and resurrected. (e.g., Matt 16:21, Mark 8:31). Peter even rebuked the creator of the universe for talking like that. Even though Jesus had been telling them, they didn’t yet understand that it had been prophesied over and over in the Old Testament.

Mary Magdalene at the tomb

  • READ 20:10–11
    • ASK What was Mary Magdalene feeling? (open discussion)
    • ASK Have you ever felt that?
  • READ 20:12–15
  • READ 20:15–18
    • ASK What is Mary feeling now? (open discussion)

Jesus appears to most of the disciples

  • READ 20:19–23
    • SAY When Jesus breathed on them, he was using an object lesson about the Holy Spirit:
      • Breath and spirit are the same word in Greek.
      • Jesus had already told them the Holy Spirit was coming.

Jesus and Thomas

  • READ 20:24–25
  • READ 20:26–29
  • READ 20:30–31

SAY There has been a lot of malarky that followed from reading verse 29 by itself. It is used to support name-it, claim-it teaching; it has been used to support blind faith in various sorts of preachers. But look at what follows in verses 30–31: “[T]hese things are written so that you may believe …”

Back in 17:20, when Jesus was praying, he said, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word …” John’s gospel is the word of an eyewitness, and it is on this basis we believe.

John emphasizes this point in 1 John: READ 1 John 1:1–3. John is telling us that this is from those who have seen Jesus and can be believed.

One more thing

In 20:17, Jesus tells Mary, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father …”

But since then, he has asscended to the Father. Now is the time to cling to him.

When it seems he has abandoned you,

  • cancer
  • divorce
  • pregnant daughter
  • more cancer
  • bullied daughter

that is when you should cling to Jesus. But not to the fantasy Jesus of what you would make up, and not to the false Jesus of some of those people on TV. The real Jesus, the one revealed in the Bible.

  • Don’t put on a brave face and pretend to be okay.
  • Do get to know your Savior in his word, so that when you hit a hard time, you know what you are holding on to.
    • One way to do this: The Gospel of John has 21 chapters. Read 3 chapters each day — that’s one week. Do this every week for a month.
    • The next month, go do the same with Matthew: 28 chapters, 4 each day.
    • Then Mark: 16 chapters, 2 or 3 each day.
    • Then Luke: 24 chapters, 3 or 4 each day.
    • Then the rest of the New Testament in appropriate-sized chunks.
    • Then go to the Old Testament, and see how Jesus is revealed there.
  • This is how you learn who you are clinging to.