Philly: Join Me for an In-Depth Galatians Bible Study


book-of-galatians.jpgFriends in the Philly area: starting next Tuesday I will be leading a six-week Bible Study on the Epistle to the Galatians.

It’ll be on six consecutive Tuesdays at 7pm, starting next week, July 11th. You can sign up for it and the resources here.

I’m really excited about this. Each evening will be split into two parts. In the first, we will read through the chapter and study it using pre-modern, non-scholarly methods. We will sit with it and see what it might say to us if we had no other information and resources in front of us other than the text itself–hopefully, lessons we can bring to any passage of Scripture. We will try out methods that appeal to both the more “feely” types out there, as well as the more analytical ones. We’ll also look at how some ancient Christians experienced that text.

The second half of each evening will be mainly me leading a talk and discussion around historical, scholarly, and theological issues that come up within the text. We’ll talk about various scholarly views on different aspects of the text and how we might navigate them and incorporate them into our own study. (I may also put some of this material on this blog.)

Lastly, I also want to encourage us to do a little Scripture memorization. For this first week, I’m going to encourage everyone to memorize some of these opening lines from the first chapter:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (1.3-5)

So if you’re in Philly and are interested, sign up!–even if you’re not a part of my church, feel free to join us! See you then!


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Logos Bible Software & Evangelical Insecurity


devil-jesus-arm-wrestle

I use and love Logos Bible Software for my Bible study and seminary work. It really is an amazing piece of software. You can amass such a huge library of books and resources that all connect and sync up to one another.

The one problem is that they can only put the time and resources into putting out books that people will actually buy. This means that their library selection has long been skewed towards a certain demographic: American Conservative Evangelicals, usually of the “Neo-Reformed” variety.

I don’t tend to like the books that are geared for this market. Their theological assumptions seem to come first, and the text seems to often come second. I love reading robust, scholarly commentaries and books that help grow and stretch me; books that focus on the messiness of Scripture and how it is historically and culturally conditioned. Yes, this means I end up preferring writings from “liberal” (God, I hate that term) perspectives and institutions, even if my actual theological conclusions are fairly conservative.

So it’s been frustrating to me that Logos was lacking in this scholarship and thinking for some time. But in the past year, I’ve noticed this changing. More and more commentary series and scholarship book bundles are coming out by Logos that I am loving (though my bank account hasn’t). Maybe I just never noticed them before, I don’t know. But either way, I’m noticing it now, and I’m really happy.

Or rather, I was.
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Could you maybe help me win some Bible stuff? One click is all that’s needed.


Hello, blog readers. I just ran across this sweepstakes on the site of my favorite Bible Study software, Logos. To celebrate the release of Logos 5, they are giving away a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet with Logos 5 on it. With my seminary and graduate school studies starting anew, both of these items would be of great, great value to me, my thinking, my studies, and my writing. Which means, if you all help me win this, I promise you’ll reap the benefits here on the blog as well.

With that being said, could I humbly ask you to click the this link? For each person that clicks, I get 5 more entries into the drawing: http://ptab.it/iGGA

Thanks again.

Using the Bible to Meet with God


Last week, I asked a bunch of you how you go about using the Bible and the study of its contents to actually nourish your soul and meet with God. I got some great responses both here and on Facebook. This week, I wanted to put up how I ended up approaching this during the class I taught at my church. It’s super short, not very deep, and much more can/should/will be said. For what it is, I hope it’s genuinely helpful and speaks to how we might meet God through the Scriptures.

How do we move from the Facts of the Bible to the God of the Bible? From knowing the Bible, to knowing the Person? From Scripture being informational to formational?

The Meeting Place of God

As I said in the first class I taught, the Bible is not the passive “Revelation of God”. It is the place through which the Holy Spirit actively “reveals God” to us. When it comes to the Bible, we should start thinking more in verbs, not nouns. The Bible is “simply” a meeting place for God and his people, where he might meet them as he desires, by His Spirit.

When we meet God in Scripture, its the convergence of four things: Us and our faith, God and His Spirit.
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I Am A Fearful Man (and i need to get over it) {pt1}


[Read Part 2 and Part 3 of this series]

Oh the perils of post-modernity.

There once was a time where I was arrogant in what I thought I knew. I know, I know, many of you are thinking “once”? Let me explain.

I grew up in the South; or at least (if you don’t believe Dallas is in the True South) the Bible Belt. I was raised in an atmosphere that choked with fundamentalism. What’s more, I was fully enveloped in this culture as a Southern Baptist, and all of the cultural retardation that accompanied it. Most everyone in my world was “religious”. Actors and “liberals” were the only ones that were “atheists”, and they were all in Hollywood, D.C., or Berekeley–far, far away. I lived my younger years not knowing even of the existence of other “denominations”. Everyone in Texas was either Catholic or Southern Baptist, and in Sunday School they taught me that Catholics believed in salvation by works and were therefore not going to heaven anyway. Only we Baptists were right. In short, I grew up with a sense that I was part of the cosmic “in” crowd: God’s One and Only Faithful.

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Repentance (for Liberti & my Home Group)


I help lead a home meeting for Liberti Church: Center City. In these home meetings we usually further discuss the sermon from Sunday and try and see what bearing it might have on our everyday life. As most everyone knows, I have started my new job now and had to work last night so I wasn’t able to attend the home group. So, I thought I’d write out my thoughts here.

This post is mainly trying to place this past week’s message in the broader context of our current series “Lent For Everyone”. The first week, we looked at Jesus’ temptations in the desert to show us how we are meant to live life here and now in the “desert” of history — after our freedom from slavery but before the Promised Land (Audio). The second week of Lent Jared preached on how the God of Christianity  is unlike any other god we make, because of his Covenantal character, and how He does not demand that we bound ourselves to Him, but rather He commits Himself to us (Audio). This past week we heard God in Isaiah 55:1-9 invite us toward the gift of repentance, and in that find life (Audio). Next week, he will talk about the celebration this God is actually inviting to take part in (Audio), and in the final week, he will talk about who this King is that has been with us all along (Audio). In our home meeting, we’ve been talking about these ideas and how our sins reveal the true nature of our hearts.

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Some Lord’s Day Meditations on Paul’s Thorn | 2Cor 12:7-11


I’m almost done going through 2 Corinthians, and last night I came across that oh-so-familiar passage of 2 Corinthians 12:7-11:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I thought I’d share some of the things that really spoke to me as I meditated on it:

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“Let’s Get it On” – Song of Solomon blog


READ THIS FIRST:

I have a new post up on my Song of Solomon Bible Study blog.

It was written a few days ago and since then it has been brought to my attention how weird it might be that I concern myself even somewhat with the sexuality of married couples.  The thought process is: you’re single.  Therefore, you have no business telling couples how the Bible says to have good sex.  It’s inappropriate and “shameful”.

My favorite metaphor for my relationship with Christ is the Bride/Bridegroom metaphor and the subsequent parallels between the sexuality and spirituality.  I love it.  But is it weird for me to think this way before I’m married?  I’ve thought and talked like this for several years now and no one has ever told me it’s awkward or inappropriate, but now a couple of people have, so I’m wondering:

Is it inappropriate, awkward, or weird for me to write the kind of post I just did on the Song of Solomon Bible Study site?

I’d really like feedback from everyone.  WARNING: the post is potentially sort of sexually graphic.  No more than Song of Solomon itself, but still – Jewish boys weren’t allowed to read the book until they were twelve for a reason.  So if you are drawn into temptation particularly through text and words, you probably shouldn’t read.

But for everyone else, please read and let me know.  I really am ready to change my perspective on this if I need to, I just need some feedback from my brothers and sisters.  So, here it is.  Read and let me know what you’re thinking.

http://solomonssong.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/41-51-lets-get-it-on/

I hope everyone has a good weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday with some posts I’m pretty excited about including posts on Christian cursing and the Southern Baptist Convention.