1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (all were baptized into Moses)

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(1Co 10:1-4 ESV) For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Weird, huh? I mean, where on earth is Paul coming from? What in the world does being baptized in the Red Sea and following a rock around the desert have to do with the gospel
— much less the weak and the strong?! We’ll get there. But first, let’s sort out the metaphors. Continue reading

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The Church of the Firstborn

the-church-of-the-first-born-hebrews-12-23In the comments, for the last several days there has been discussion over the meaning of Hebrews 12:23, particularly its reference to the “church of the firstborn.” Since I have access to more exegetic resources than most, I thought I’d poke around a bit in the text and the commentaries to see just what this is all about. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 9:20-27 (“To the weak I became weak”)

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(1Co 9:20-22 ESV) 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

This passage will surely be in album 1 of Paul’s “Greatest Hits.” I mean, this gets quoted all the time for all sorts of reasons. Let’s start in context. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 9:11-19 (“I have made myself a servant to all”)

corinth-anc-temp-apollo-acro-beyondPaul continues to demonstrate his rights as an apostle in order to give himself as an example of how the strong must sometimes surrender their rights for their weaker brothers.

(1Co 9:11-12a ESV) 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

There is an attitude among many church goers that those who work for the church have implicitly denied any interest in material things — like a decent salary. But Paul puts the lie to this argument. Those who sow spiritual things are entitled to “reap material things” from the people served. And this is a “rightful” claim. Most translations use the Western “right.” Continue reading

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On Story: Leadership and Family

Several years ago, I wrote a review on Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life. Miller is also the author of Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. A Million Miles is about story theory. I wrote: Continue reading

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A Class for Middle School Girls

calvinhobbesA reader asked me to suggest materials to teach a Bible class for middle school girls. Really.

I have four children. All boys. I understand boys. Middle school girls are well outside of my expertise. However, this much I know:

Bible class teachers for children get extra stars in their crowns. Middle school teachers get the most.

I’ve taught one middle school class in my life. One. Not one quarter or semester. One. And never again. (I still awaken with nightmares from that dread hour.)

Teens, adults, toddlers — I’m good. Anything but middle school.

So this is what I suggested. And the floor is open for you, dear readers, to do better. My correspondent would be thrilled to have any suggestions you might have — and I’m sure they’ll be better than mine. Continue reading

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On Story: Three Smooth Stones

Let’s talking about congregational leadership. I will, once again, shamelessly rip off the writings of Mark Love, this time from a post “Three Smooth Stones: Action-Reflection-Articulation.” What he describes is absolutely typical of every church everywhere: Continue reading

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On Story: On Living a Bigger Story, by Mark Love

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So I’ve been wandering all over the intellectual plain to say this: We need a better story.

Our churches need better stories. And we individually and as families need better stories.

We church leaders need to learn how to tell better stories — and how to inhabit the stories of our listeners so we can help them find their own better stories.

If God made us to be relational beings, defined far more by whom we love and who loves us than by what we know, we need to learn to communicate in our relational, story-driven world.

The truth, though, is that most of us are so consumed with Enlightenment thought that when it’s time to lead a church through change or to persuade our own children to change, we can only manage to express ourselves syllogistically — that is, logically. And we are all quite good at building a logical case for whatever we want. That’s how American schools teach us to think. Continue reading

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On Story: Further on Revelation

I give myself away, I’m sure, as a mathematician by training. That’s my undergraduate degree, and the emphasis was on theoretical mathematics — the best kind. And so I know that logic and reason necessarily trace back to certain starting assumptions — axioms — that cannot themselves be proven or even tested except for consistency. Continue reading

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On Story: Revelation’s Story

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www.oliviamooreart.com Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Let’s consider another story. A very true story. It goes like this.

God created the heavens and the earth. He created out of nothing, indeed, solely by and through his Word, his Logos. And he sustains the world and all its elements by the power of his Word. Everything that is is held together by the will of God expressed through the Logos.

Every molecule, every atom, every proton, and every quark vibrates to a melody being played by God. And he made all things good. Continue reading

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