Today, February 4, 2018 we watched an interesting video. Two men from different generations… two men from different social worlds… two men from different countries discuss their spiritual upbringing, struggles, and find common ground in the Psalms. Eugene Peterson, in his translation of the Bible, “The Message”, renders the Psalms as closely as possible from the Hebrew and discovers that they are not pretty. They don’t flow well. But, they are brutally honest in their story. Bono uses “The Message” translation since it speaks to him best in his world, and helps him to find comfort learning about his struggles similar those of King David.
Peterson and Bono have a conversation comparing their own similar struggles. Now a Christian and having grown up with some violence in Ireland, Bono is a “socially conscious musician” (activist) who uses his celebrity outside of music to make a positive impact on the world particularly with global hunger. Peterson “appears” to be lower key in his approach to changing the world through his personal contact with his parishioners and pastors whom he mentors.
Both men feel passionate about what they do and when they get mad about a particular circumstance, as Peterson suggests, they try to express it in a way that allows them to “cuss without cussing”. In these cases, the place in the Bible where they both are drawn are the “imprecatory Psalms”… certain Psalms that call for judgement, calamity, and curses against the enemy. Both Peterson and Bono use these Psalms to make sense of violence realizing that God is not a violent God, but that the world is a violent place. Neither wants to escape the violence of this world, and both desire to be drawn closer to God through trusting Him and viewing the world through His eyes.
Here is a link to today’s program.
Today, January 21, 2018 we watched a video interview of Eugene Peterson as he tells about his life. He is a pastor, professor, author, and poet and is one of the best known theologians of our time. He has written more than 35 books, but he is probably best known for his translation of the Bible, The Message, which is a contemporary rendering of the Bible. Other popular books of his include A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, and his memoir, The Pastor. In the latter, he reflects on life and the ways in which Jesus-followers can respond to God’s call.
The video is sort of an “afternoon with Eugene Peterson” where he is asked several questions about his life and “career”. What is remarkable about the interview is that the questions are framed in a way that triggers complex responses from him. In other words, Peterson’s responses are not simple, but draw from his life experiences in ways that cause us to think about our own journey of faith and of how we can more closely follow the ways of Jesus.
Eugene Peterson, in all his humility, is a good mentor for us. Our view of, and sometimes struggle with, life can be brought into better focus by learning from him about his own struggles. Jesus does not expect perfection from us, but we can learn how to do our best with our own imperfection. Peterson helps us see the reality of that.
Here is a link to today’s program.
Today, January 14, 2018 we watched a video from Rev. Dr. Kenneth Bailey about Jesus, the Oppressed, and the Oppressors. For us to correctly handle many confusing and complicated situations today we should not rely on our own assessments, judgements, emotions, and actions to resolve the issue. Jesus has been there and dealt with every issue that confronts us and He is the one we should look to for an example of how to handle things.
Many times – maybe usually – He assesses a situation differently than we do, and so His resolution is far different than our method. For example, Ecclesiastes 4:1 (Amplified Bible) says:
“Then I looked again and considered all the acts of oppression that were being practiced under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them.” God is concerned with showing comfort to both the oppressed and the oppressor.
We can see how Jesus handles this situation in two stories found in Luke 18:35 – Luke 19:10. The first is the story of the (oppressed) blind beggar who because of his disability is relegated to begging each day in public relying on contributions from passersby for his income and sustenance. The second is the story of a despised tax collector (oppressor), Zacchaeus, who climbs a tree in order to better see Jesus, and is found out by the crowd and jeered all the way home.
Jesus handles both of these situations in profound ways that can help us to understand and learn, if even in a limited way, the concern of God for all people… the oppressed and the oppressors alike. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us guidance following Jesus’ example when we are confronted with a situation that the rest of the world handles in its own unbecoming way. Dr. Bailey presents an interesting explanation and example in this video, and I hope you will take time to watch… and watch again.
Here is a link to today’s program.
We began this year of 2018 on January 7 with a Day of Discovery video that begins a discussion about how the Bible’s Old Testament points to Jesus Christ as the long awaited Messiah. The Old Testament comprises 75% of today’s Bible and without it – if we would only have the New Testament to read – we would miss the story that God is telling of Himself.
The Old Testament is the Bible that Jesus read and from it he followed the scriptural traditions and prayers, and meticulously learned about who He was. In fact, all of the writers of the Bible’s New Testament drew from the Old Testament because it, too, was the only Bible that they knew… there was no New Testament then. The Old Testament can be confusing, seemingly contradictory, and just randomly organized in ways that sometimes causes us to avoid it.
God tells us about Himself through some unlikely characters and, although reading only bits and pieces of the Bible, His message remains unclear. But it is the entire collection of stories from both the Old and New Testaments where we find a complete story about God himself in the person of Jesus Christ.
Today’s lesson was primarily about how Jesus was pointed to in the Law of Moses… long before Jesus was born. Luke 24:44 says that “Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled”, and that is why it is important for us to recognize what the Old Testament says about our Messiah. There are two other videos that accompany this (The Promise of Messiah in the Prophets, and the Promise of Messiah in the Psalms), although we will probably watch each of them at a later time.
Here is a link to today’s program.
For past two weeks we have been lead by our friend, Jack, who has recently written a book called “Good Shepherd Great Leader” (available on Amazon as a Kindle version HERE). In it he shows how to become a great leader by following the example of Christ, and describes the qualities, attributes, and character of a leader. Sheep are not driven like most livestock need to be, but they need to be lead making it extra important to know how to be a good leader by following Jesus’ example.
Today we turned it around the other way and looked at the sheep… the followers, from the sheep’s perspective. There are many more sheep than there are shepherds, and the question “does a sheep need to be courageous?” is a valid one considering the nature of sheep. Vulnerability in life is what sheep are born into, and following the shepherd is a matter of extreme trust. How true it is that when we are in the middle of some kind of conflict or crisis situation we need to trust our shepherd, Jesus, to watch out and provide for us. These are spiritual battles that we cannot fight by ourselves, so it takes tremendous courage for us to trust the One who can protect and provide for us in ways that we sometimes cannot understand. Very easy to say, but very hard to do.
Haddon Robinson, from Discover the Word, has some very good insights about the topic and this is what we listened to today… “What kind of courage does a sheep need?” How can we be good followers? Jesus only wants our trust in Him, and Haddon offers some good examples and answers for us in this lesson.
We ended today by watching a 4 minute video of children retelling the Christmas Story.
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Remember that “Wise men still seek Him”.
Here is the link to today’s lesson.
Here is the link to the children telling the Christmas Story.
Today, November 5, 2017 we watched an inspirational YouTube video, “109-Year-Old Veteran and His Secrets to Life Will Make You Smile”. It demonstrates many of the core personality characteristics of centenarians, and how we can remain positive and be a blessing to others… if we decide that we want to. It also demonstrates the gift of unusual and incredible genes.
Born May 11, 1906 Mr. Overton was the oldest US War veteran still living when this video was made, at age 109. He had just renewed his driver’s license (so he can drive his pickup truck), smokes several cigars a day, drinks a little whiskey, and really likes soup. Today, he is still living, is 111 years of age, and is the oldest living man in the United States.
He shares some of his secrets for living a long life in this video. They are very simple and very positive suggestions, and he says “that if you don’t follow them then that is your problem”. He also says that anyone can “follow the Overton diet” so that they, too, can live to be an older age. About smoking the cigars… his secret is to not inhale the smoke. This, he refers to, as the “healthy” way to smoke cigars.
He attends church regularly and he and his friend, a woman 18 years his junior, visit the elderly at nursing homes in the area. Regardless of his genes, he demonstrates how we can still remain a blessing to others even at an advanced age… if we want to. He says that he “might give out, but will never give up.”
Here is the link to the video.
Today, October 29, 2017 we watched a Day of Discover video, “Jesus and the Gospels: Answers to Tough Questions – Part 2”. It addressed some of the issues that can easily distract us from following the path of Jesus.
Around Christmastime, and also Easter, there seems to be a proliferation of news stories and “documentaries” that seem to want to upend what we know from the Bible and to discredit Christianity. Stories about Jesus having been married, an ossuary found that seems to belong to the family of Jesus, archeological discoveries that seemingly contradict what the Bible says, and other “newly” discovered texts claiming something other than what the Bible claims. There will always be these sorts of distractions and we need to be discerning enough to recognize them and to not be led off course.
After all, nothing in the Bible has ever been disproven and, as Christians, we are the only religion to follow Someone who has overcome death… and has who has promised that we also will overcome death, just as He did. In the video, Dr. Rikk Watts said that being “good” by helping others, loving others, being a nice person, giving to charity, and trying to keep the (10) Commandments, etc. is just not enough. When we are dead, being good is not enough (as important as it is) for us to gain eternal life. That can only be obtained by accepting and trusting, by faith, in Jesus Christ … to overcome death and to have eternal life.
In the video, Dr. Watts sums up Christianity nicely when he says “… Christianity is not a philosophy or an idea. It is a story and our response to it. We’re responding to an event. Something has happened in Jesus that’s changed our world. God came to us and we experienced Him. We don’t fully understand it… it’s bigger than us. That’s what makes it so exciting!”
Here is a link to today’s video.