God is smart!

20 02 2009

Note to the faithful readers: Ryan pulled a Jeremiah Johnson on me, so I guess I’m temporarily in charge…

My dad, Bob, just got back recently from Cameroon and I wanted to share a very exciting aspect of his trip. Dad works with ITEM to train African pastors how to better shepherd their flocks in a biblical manner. Many of the local church leaders suffer from limited resources and bad training. Because of this, there are many issues of concern for the African church such as the wealth and prosperity doctrine and syncretism.africa

Dad has been to different parts of Africa many times, but there was an exciting new wrinkle in his last trip that just goes to prove who is really running the show. Prior to Dad’s trip a friend of the family who is a deacon at my church felt led to accompany him to Cameroon. Bob typically travels to French-speaking areas because of his fluency, so Tim was thinking he would go along as a source of encouragement and support.

As the departure date came closer, the details crystallized and Dad let Tim know that they would actually be going to one of the few English-speaking areas in Cameroon. While this was all well and good for Tim, what didn’t sit as well was when Dad told him that he could now teach some of the sessions! Read the rest of this entry »


The Fascinating Life of Charles Thomson

11 12 2008

I recently picked up the book “The Bible in Translation” by Bruce M. Metzger, and it is a very interesting read.  It covers a history of the translation of the Bible and while only half way through it, I have learned some very amazing things about the journey God’s words have taken to the versions we have today.

One of the translations mentioned is Charles Thomson’s Bible.  Charles Thomson has the distinction of creating and printing the first translation of the Bible into English in America.  While this may be in itself an interesting factoid, I found the story of his life quite fascinating.

Childhood & Schooling

Charles was a native of Ireland and boarded a boat for the New World with his father and siblings in 1739.  Within sight of their new home, Charles’ father died.  Since their mother had died back in Europe, Charles and his siblings were now orphans.  The ship’s captain seized the family assets and distributed the children to acquaintances in Delaware willing to raise them.  Unwilling to become a blacksmith’s endentured apprentice, Charles ran away.  He fell upon a kind family who were impressed with his desire to learn and study.  Thus began his scholarly pursuits of the classics.

After his education in Pennsylvania, he moved back to Delaware to open his own school.  Eventually he became a Greek and Latin tutor at Benjamin Franklin’s Philadelphia Academy (later to become the University of Philadelphia).

Thomson also served as a liason for the Native Americans of Delaware seeking to protect them from predatory practices on the part of the settlers.  His reputation for honesty and credibility earned him a special moniker from the Indians: “The Man Who Speaks the Truth”.

The American Revolution

After some lackluster business endeavors, Charles threw himself headlong into politics at the crest of the American Revolution.  He was unanimously selected as the secretary of the Continental Congress and dutifully took notes and minutes as the United States of America were forged.  The first draft of the Declaration of Independance was penned and signed by Charles, and his last act as secretary was to ride from Pennsylvania to Mt. Vernon to notify George Washington of his election to the position of President and escort him to the inaugaration in New York.  Throughout his political career, Charles was regarded as possessing the utmost level of character, honesty, and faithfulness.

Read the rest of this entry »

Should Sexual Discrimination in the Bible be banned?

6 08 2008

According to the Family Research Council, a legal team has concluded that a recent anti-discrimination law passed in Colorado could ban the distribution of the Bible in that state. Apparently, the law, S.B. 200, bans the distribution of “any written material that discriminates based on sexual orientation” and according to the law, that includes, “…any communication, paper, poster, folder, manuscript, book, pamphlet, writing, print, letter, notice, or advertisement of any kind, nature, or description which is intended or calculated to discriminate or actually discriminates…”

I know…I know…the idea that the Bible could actually be banned in its current form may seem a bit far fetched to some of us today, but why should it? Isn’t it possible that a new “interpretation” of scripture should be encouraged that removes any reference to sexual discrimination whatsoever? After all, many emergent churches and pastors have already set the precedent by straying from God’s Word on the matter. They have begun following the guidance of pastor Brian McLaren who essentially suggested we impose a gag-order on anything related to sexual discrimination in the church.

“Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us’…Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably.” – Brian McLaren

Brian’s idea may seem harmless on first glance, but what is he really saying?
Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Me in the “Middle”

13 07 2008

One of the highlights of my college education at the University of Washington was two quarters of Classical Greek. Classical Greek is only one generation older than Koine Greek (the language of the New Testament), so I was excited to manipulate my secular school for spiritual purposes. Having a rudimentary understanding of Greek has allowed pieces of scripture to show more life and vibrancy in my studies and I would recommend studying this beautiful language to any student of the Word (that means any of you!).

My favorite encounter with the Bible and its Greek intricacies happened while I was still in my first quarter and it was incredibly exciting… to me, anyway. It all has to do with the Middle Voice.

James is probably my favorite book of the Bible, and James 1:20 is one of the most helpful verses I remember from it. I’ve grown up using the NAS translation, and thus recited the passage as such:

“for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God”

I love that! It’s clear and concise. My application and thinking towards this verse had always been something along the lines of “when I get angry, I can’t accomplish God’s work in the world.” I was surprised to one day read an NIV Bible and find this treatment of the same verse: Read the rest of this entry »

Hard on the Ears or a Joy to the Heart?

8 04 2008

How do you respond to convicting truth preached from the Word?

Personally, I love hard preaching.  When the Spirit of God takes me to the “woodshed” through the preached Word of God, I rejoice!  It is like water to my soul; it is refreshing, invigorating, and satisfying.  I want to be reminded of eternity, of the gravity of these truth, of the call to holiness and the sacrifice of my Savior.  I need to be reminded of my own inability, of how lost I was, and how desperately every day I need to grace of God. 

But there are times when I wonder if my delight in such convicting sermons is weird or bizarre or strange.  There are moments when I think: “Am I just wired wrong?” 

Recently, through conversations with some others in our church who delight in a convicting challenge (who actually find joy in it!) I came to a place of puzzlement over this “phenomena.”  Why would people enjoy hearing that they are wrong, out of line, or in danger of punishment?

The world would answer the question by saying that we are just a bunch of masochists, that somehow we get some perverse delight out of the emotional or psychological pain.  They would say we need help (as in the professional kind).  However, I think the world couldn’t be more wrong with their answer.

I came across the following in Thomas Watson’s A Godly Man’s Picture and I believe it gives the true answer to this “bizarre” behavior:

The Scripture is like the Garden of Eden: as it has a tree of life in it, so it has a flaming sword at its gates.  This is the threatening of the Word.  It flashes fire in the face of every person who goes on obstinately in wickedness… a godly man loves the menace of the Word.  He knows there is love in every threat.  God would not have us perish; he therefore mercifully threatens us, so that he may scare us from sin… there is mercy in every threat. 

So, the child of God learns to see the mercy in the threat, the joy in the conviction, the eternal pleasure gained through moments of pain, the refinement in the moments of fire.  Explaining this truth leads Watson to raise the following question (and further drive the point home):

Do we love the convictions of the Word? Do we love the Word when it comes home to our conscience and shoots its arrows of reproof at our sins?  It is the minister’s duty sometimes to reprove.  He who can speak smooth words in the pulpit, but does not know how to reprove, is like a sword with a fine hilt without an edge. ‘Rebuke them sharply’ (Titus 2:15).  Dip the nail in oil, reprove in love, but strike the nail home.  Now Christian, when the Word touches your sin and says, ‘Thou are the man,’ do you love reproof?  Can you bless God that ‘the sword of the Spirit’ has divided between you and your lusts?  This is indeed a sign of grace and shows that you are a lover of the Word.

Did you catch that last part?  Why this bizarre behavior?   Because God is producing it.  It is a sign of his grace working in our life.  If we fought the conviction, if we hated it, it would only manifest a heart that is embracing rebellion and doesn’t want to submit to what God is saying.  However, that we love such hard teaching and desire to have the light of truth shine upon our souls reveals something heavenly working in our lives- it reveals Someone divine working in our lives.

So, the next time your pastor isn’t “pulling any punches” and you find yourself broken but joyfully, realize there is nothing wrong with what you are experiencing.  Actually, there is everything right with it, and your joy should only increase when you realize this strange feeling is evidence of God’s Spirit working in your life.  

A Little Spiritual Voyeurism?

5 01 2008

This year, our Pastor challenged our church to read through the Bible and journal.  In previous years we have read through the Bible as a church (two years ago we went through chronologically and last year we used M’Cheyne’s reading plan) but the call to keep a journal is new.  I’m a huge fan of devotional journaling (this discipline has been a source of rich blessing in my life since Jr. high) and I’m very eager to see the fruit of this practice in our church family.

My brother, Dave, has put an interesting spin on this year’s challenge.  He has decided to make his journal public by writing it on-line.  According to Dave, he did this because “a blog is free and a notebook is like… 84¢.”  His cheapskate ways (just kidding, Dave) have resulted in a blessing for all of us.  Each day you can stop by Dave’s blog and join with him on his spiritual journey.  You can read his wonderful insights on the text, and then watch as he lets the Word loose in his life.  After recording how the OT and NT texts ‘took him to the woodshed,’ Dave even shares his prayers with us.

I would encourage you to stop by and check it out.  And for those of you reading through the Bible this year, make a comment or two on Dave’s site and let him know how you’re apply that day’s text to your life.  I know he’ll really appreciate the reciprocated transparency.