Church Write-Up: Seeking Eternity Through Legacy

At the Missouri Synod Lutheran church’s Lenten service this week, the pastor opened by mentioning that time is relative.  2002 seems like a long time ago, but, for him, it could have been last week.  In 2002, Rick Warren’s bestselling book, the Purpose Driven Life, came out.  For some reason, the pastor seemed to believe that Warren held to the Westminster Confession and believed that everything that occurs was ordained by God for a purpose, and we should just buckle under and accept what comes our way; the pastor said that Lutherans do not quite see things that way.  (Rick Warren is a Southern Baptist, and, from what I perused online, there is diversity among Southern Baptists about predestination.)  Still, the pastor said that the success of the book demonstrates that people are looking for their lives to have purpose and meaning.

The pastor talked about how life is a vapor.  We all have something in common: that we will die (assuming Jesus does not return before that).  But so many of us try to find value in the life that we have, and even to establish a legacy that will last after we die.  We try to establish our presence behind the curtain.  But even the famous come and go.

The pastor referred to a poster that his father had hanging in his den.  His father loved to collect posters, and the pastor related that his father would probably have loved the Internet had it come out when he was younger.  It came out when he was old, however, and he was baffled and confused by it.  Anyway, one of his posters had a quote from a missionary, which said that everything we do for Christ lasts forever.  The pastor said that such a mindset, when taken in a certain direction, can become a burden, as we try to establish a legacy for Christ.  But the pastor thought that the focus on Christ was correct.

The pastor proceeded to share the Gospel of Jesus dying for our sins and giving righteousness and eternal life to those who believe.  How can we be assured that we will have eternal life?  The pastor said that we hold on to God, but also the Holy Spirit holds on to us, sealing us for our eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14).

I’ll stop here.  I know this is a summary, but it is all I feel like writing right now.  It is mainly for my records, anyway.  It leaves me a legacy of the service, to which I can return, whenever I wish.


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Looking Back to an Old Typewriter — Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.

What difference might a typewriter make on one’s writing style; might it even affect one’s thinking itself? We are what we write, and how we write is shaped by the device on which we write. Consider Nicholas Carr’s reflections on Nietzsche’s use of a primitive typewriter. Sometime in 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter—a Malling-Hansen […]

via Looking Back to an Old Typewriter — Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.

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Some readings about Egypt — theoutwardquest

Reblogging for future reference.

Egyptology is a hobby of mine that sometimes contributes to understanding the Hebrew Bible. I have found some excellent resources on the Internet. You have to be very careful though. The vast majority of stuff about ancient Egypt on the Web is quirky. There is stuff that ties in to new age religion. There is […]

via Some readings about Egypt — theoutwardquest

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Biblical Citations and Allusions: Online Index

Larry Hurtado's Blog

For a number of years now, the online resource, BiblIndex (Index of Biblical Quotations in Early Christian Literature) has been available here, though not widely enough noticed.

It’s a very handy tool. You can search for the number of citations and allusions of any verse, or whole book of the Bible.  You can search instances in particular early Christian writers/texts, or all Christian texts of a given period.  And it will bring up on screen the actual instances for you to assess.

By way of illustration, here are some figures that will show the relative usage of particular biblical books in Christian texts dated ca. 100-400 AD (the figures = combined citations and allusions):  Matthew (36,556), Mark (3,537), Luke (17,410), John (22,735).  Clearly, Matthew was the favorite, and Mark by far the least.

Among other selected NT writings in the same period, Romans (10,794), 1 Corinthians (14,596), Galatians (3,372)…

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Consider the Ostrich—Comparing Theistic Models of Biological Origins — Naturalis Historia

Some passages of scripture contain detailed natural history information about animals. The book of Job, in particular, records many physical and behavioral traits of animals. One such animal described in Job is the ostrich. The ostrich we know today is a strange bird. It is very large, its wings are not able to provide flight […]

via Consider the Ostrich—Comparing Theistic Models of Biological Origins — Naturalis Historia

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Book Write-Up: Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, with Katie Casselberry.  Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence.  Moody Publishers, 2015.  See here to buy the book.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert teach economics at Covenant College and are involved in the Chalmers Center there.  Katie Casselberry was also instrumental in the development of this book.

This book is a sequel to another book that Corbett and Fikkert wrote, entitled When Helping Hurts.  According to Corbett and Fikkert, some churches got the wrong idea from When Helping Hurts, concluding that they should not give to the poor who come asking them for help.  Actually, Corbett and Fikkert say, they are advocating that churches provide even more help than financial assistance: that people in churches develop relationships with low-income people, work with them to improve their situation, and even offer financial assistance, if that is determined to be wise.  Helping Without Hurting refers to When Helping Hurts, while going into more detail about how to assist the low-income.

This book does come across as patronizing and as assuming that poverty is a result of character flaws rather than something that happens to a person.  Yet, to its credit, it does make a conscious effort to avoid and to counter that kind of attitude.  It acknowledges that poverty can be due to a number of factors, some beyond the control of the low-income person.  It presents racism as a real problem that holds people back.  It denies that it is offering a one-size-fits-all approach, recognizing that each individual situation is different.  It encourages churches to work with the low-income rather than telling the low-income what to do.

A number of times, I wondered how feasible its approaches are.  Reading this book, one may get the impression that churches have lots of money, such that they are able to contribute to low-income people’s bank account, or to pay half of their electric bill.  One may also get the impression that churches have an abundance of experienced people who are able to teach vocational skills, or that people in churches have the time to work with low-income people.  The book would have been better had it included more stories of churches actually doing these things, or perhaps offered guidance on how, say, to establish a job-training program.  To its credit, the book had a number of anecdotes and case-studies, as well as recommended resources that can hopefully assist the low-income.  Still, something seemed to be missing.

Greater sensitivity to current economic problems may also have enhanced the book.  As the book acknowledges, some areas lack economic development.  There are also the factors of stagnant wages, the decline of U.S. manufacturing jobs, and robots replacing workers.  At the same time, this book does well to argue that the church should try to muster whatever resources it has (i.e., people with contacts in the business community) to work with the low-income and hopefully improve their situation.  What we need in this society are people who care and who try to help more, not less, and this book does well to promote that.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.  My review is honest.

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Biblical Review: Reflections on “Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel,” by Christopher A. Rollston

Needless to say, Rollston’s Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel is a valuable starting point for studies in (1) epigraphy and (2) inscriptions. Essentially, he employs epigraphy as “a window into the world of ancient Israelite scribalism, writing, and literacy” (xv). First, he offers a helpful introduction to the origins of alphabetic writing and […]

via Reflections on “Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel” by Christopher A. Rollston — The Biblical Review

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