Sunday Morning Greek Blog

November 5, 2015

Jesus, the Bible, Taxes, and Charity: Part 2

Filed under: Acts,Biblical Studies — Scott Stocking @ 8:58 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

In the previous post, we looked at how the greedy heir of Solomon wanted to impose even greater financial burden on the people of Israel, wealthy and poor alike. In fact, if Israel was working the way it was supposed to, there would be very few poor, if any in Israel. Deuteronomy 15 talks about the “year of cancelling debts,” which was to happen every seven years. Anyone who has ever felt the burden of great debt knows how that weighs on the soul and drains the livelihood out of life. Fortunately, our society has a mechanism to allow this freedom from debt: bankruptcy. Some Christians might say it’s a sin to not pay off your debts, but I believe God understood human nature well enough even in the days before MasterCard to establish a means for that kind of freedom.

Aiding the Poor, Old Testament Style

Care for the poor has always been the responsibility of the people of God. It was virtually unheard of that a government in biblical times would have considered the kind of wealth redistribution we practice in America today. As early as Leviticus 19, God was commanding the Israelite people, NOT the rulers, to make accommodations for the poor. “Do not reap the very edges of your field” (v. 9); “Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner” (v. 10); “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them…[They] must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt” (vv. 33–34). (“Foreigners in the land” is quite different from illegal aliens today, but that will have to wait for another post.)

The Psalms and Proverbs are full of blessings for the poor and warnings about oppressing or mistreating them. There are even verses about God defending the cause of the poor and the orphans. But never once in Scripture will you find God or the biblical writers ever encouraging political leaders to extract money from the rich to give to the poor. Meeting the needs of the poor is always a voluntary compassionate effort. Wealth redistribution, on the other hand, is neither voluntary nor compassionate, unless you consider those who could be working to be voluntarily unemployed!

Aiding the Poor, New Testament Style

When we get to Acts in the New Testament, we see almost immediately a community that voluntarily shares their possessions or sells them to meet the needs of their newfound family of faith. Acts 2:44–45 says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” No taxation, no big brother government taking from the rich, keeping their own cut, then redistributing to the poor. It was a self-sustained community. Acts 4 continues the theme. In fact, they took the voluntary nature of giving so seriously, that when Ananias and Sapphira sold a field and lied to God about having given the entire sale price, they were struck dead! Peter even asks Ananias the question he never got to answer: “Wasn’t the money at your disposal?” (Acts 5:4).

The seriousness with which the young church handled charity is further seen in Acts 6. There was a complaint that the Greek Jewish widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. (Widows were an especially vulnerable demographic group, because family, if they were nearby, were their only means of support otherwise.) The disciples recognized the Old Testament principles discussed above and chose seven men of character and integrity to oversee the distribution.

But as far as charity goes in the New Testament, freeloaders need not apply. Paul is very clear about his attitude toward those who can work but don’t, even to the point of implying that they are thieves. “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28); “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10b; 3:6–14 is an extended warning about idleness). Even Paul himself worked at his own trade to pay his own way as he ministered across the northern Mediterranean region.

The Lesson for Today

Taking charity out of the hands of a bloated, corrupt government and reenergizing the church to fulfill its biblical calling to care for the poor is the absolute best thing we can do to fight poverty in our nation. The local church can do a much better job of weeding out frauds and phonies than the government ever will do. Here’s something to chew on: Medicare and Medicaid are number 1 and 3 when it comes to improper payments for government programs. Medicaid’s 2014 overpayments were $17.5 billion (that’s billion, with a b); NASA’s 2014 budget was $17.6 billion! And Medicare’s improper payments were beyond the reach of NASA: almost $46 billion.

Much of that is fraud and abuse, but even with program integrity efforts, it’s difficult to keep up with all the schemes perpetrated out there. But improper payments also reflect payments made that technically should not have been made because of honest human error, that is, someone didn’t dot their I’s and cross their T’s. Medicare and Medicaid regulations are about as thick as, if not thicker than, the tax code! So some providers who make an honest attempt help the poor and needy by accepting Medicare and Medicaid patients wind up losing money on the deal because it’s so hard to keep up with the ever-changing regulatory climate and the 55,000 new ICD-10 codes! Handling these things on the local level helps deal with fraud and abuse much more efficiently, because hopefully you know the people in your community.

Food banks, food pantries, and local shelters and “soup kitchens” run by the church or other charitable groups have the potential to be far more efficient than a government-run welfare program. I’ve seen many churches and religious groups get very creative in the things they do to help the poor and needy. You can find ministries that do everything from providing food and shelter to job training to medical care and legal services. And in some cases, big brother Government has stepped in and squelched their generosity by imposing a bunch of needless regulations and rules. The government that’s supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people has become a self-perpetuating behemoth swallowing up the people. It’s time for the church to rise up and reclaim the biblical principles of charity. Let’s show the world we’re not afraid of the politically correct bullies.

Scott Stocking

The views expressed in my blog are my own. Period.

Advertisements

November 2, 2015

Jesus, the Bible, Taxes, and Charity, Part 1

Filed under: Biblical Studies — Scott Stocking @ 8:55 pm
Tags: ,

The Pope’s September visit to America had the liberal media all a-buzz, focusing on such things as his appeal to address nonexistent global warming. So much for his infallibility. The media and liberal establishment try to justify the ever-burgeoning Welfare State of America by suggesting that those who work hard for their pay have to hand it over to those who don’t work but can. The ignorance about the Bible and what charity really means is really quite disgusting for those of us who’ve been educated on the matter, and even for those who paid attention to Sunday school growing up.

Rehoboam’s Rejection of Rationality

David and his son Solomon worked tirelessly to establish the new kingdom of Israel. David was the warrior who conquered the enemies of Israel. Solomon was the builder who established the infrastructure in Israel. Solomon put a heavy burden on Israel to build that infrastructure, but the people shared his vision, and willingly gave to see the Temple built as a “home” for their God.

But when Solomon died, his son Rehoboam had a decision to make. The Israelites came to him seeking relief from the heavy burden under Solomon, primarily because Solomon had amassed the most wealth of anyone before him from any place on the earth, and probably since, at least until American capitalism came on the scene. The message the people brought to Rehoboam is found in 1 Kings 12:4:

Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.

Rehoboam took three days to decide. The elders of Israel saw the wisdom of providing tax relief to the people, but Rehoboam listened to his young friends who had no clue what it took to run a country, and only saw the opportunity to try to make money by continuing the status quo under Solomon: heavy taxes and forced labor. His friends’ suggestion was to tell the Israelites:

My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.

Yeah, thanks, Rehoboam. His response to the people three days later sounds like the liberal’s rant against the rich:

My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.

Now if you think this is a travesty, you’re right. The people who came to Rehoboam would have been those who had some degree of wealth and influence. If there were any poor in Israel at this time, given the wealth of the nation, there weren’t many. The modern welfare state that forcibly takes the people’s money (through taxes) and redistributes it to others would have been abhorrent to Israel. The idea of such heavy taxation, regardless of who the subjects were or how much wealth they had, was exactly the kind of problem God warned Israel about when they demanded a kingdom (1 Samuel 8). In other words, heavy taxation was and is a sin.

Rehoboam’s action earned the people’s disfavor. They killed Rehoboam’s man in charge of forced labor, and Rehoboam barely escaped with his life. Rehoboam’s desire to increase the tax burden on Israel caused a civil war as well. I sense a history lesson waiting to be ignored.

The Lesson for Today

Rehoboam continued to place a heavy tax burden on Israel so he and his cronies could prosper off the people. This really isn’t much different today, especially when the socialist, liberal left insist on taxing everything that lives and breathes in any way possible. The bailout in 2008 of companies “too big to fail” was a farce. GM got a huge chunk of change, then had to recall thousands of vehicles they had made at that time. Obviously there’s no accounting for quality there with the people’s money.

Then there’s the whole debacle with Healthcare.gov, the system set up for people to enroll in a healthcare plan with a kickback. One recent report documents the lack of qualifications of CMS employees to serve as contracting officers and the lack of quality controls that give new meaning to the term “snafu.” I work for a Federal contractor, so I know all about our monthly status reports and providing deliverables on time and on budget. Yet neither the major contractor, CGI Federal (their contract was worth over $250 million), nor CMS could prove they’d delivered or received, respectively, the quality assurance surveillance plan. It’s not much of a leap to assume that the lack of such a plan was a major reason why Healthcare.gov had such a pathetic kickoff. The improprieties of the whole process are too numerous to list here, but the report makes for good, but disturbing, reading for those who think the government spends way too much of their money. For more disturbing reading, check out this report.

There’s no excuse for the poor quality Americans got for their money. The system may be working now, but there are other problems that I’ll delve into later, especially the questionable practice of offering kickbacks to folks who buy their insurance through the marketplace. More on that in Part II. The American tax system is so bloated that it’s an insult to the faith of millions to suggest we should be taxed more to continually prop up and expand the Welfare State, and then suggest that’s the “Christian” thing to do. The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves. I even hear Thomas Paine scratching on his coffin to remind people we’re close to coming full circle back to 1776.

The preamble to the U.S. Constitution says to “promote the general welfare” of this nation. But we’ve certainly turned that on its head. We’re promoting the specific welfare of Democrat cronies and those who refuse to work or have given up all hope of work and change for the better in the dreadful Obama economy.

Scott Stocking

October 14, 2014

An Eventful Year

Filed under: Biblical Studies,Greek — Scott Stocking @ 9:54 pm

I’ve been away from the blogosphere far too long. A number of things have happened since my last post on 7/22/13. I continue to monitor the statistics for my blog, and am humbled that I’m over 9300 views in the nearly four years(!!) I’ve been doing this. My most popular post continues to be my word study on “seer” in the Old Testament. The hits on that post alone, of the 80+ I’ve done, represent over 11% of the total views on my site. I suspect that, since I get large spikes on that one (the last spike was 121 this past July, and it averages about 40 views per month), someone out there has made it required reading on their syllabus. I wish I knew who that was, because I would love to thank them for the traffic.

Another thing that happened is, the day after my last post, I had a first date with someone I graduated from high school with. That turned into a second, third, and many other dates, and this past April, Jill and I got married. We’re quite happy, even though my adjustment to living in a house with her and her two teenage daughters (oh yeah, and the psycho pug dog) is a bit of a challenge at times. She’s a beautiful woman of God and has been encouraging me to get back to writing the blog. I’m need to be more intentional about that, and this post is my way of getting back into that.

In my post on June 9, 2013, I mentioned several projects I had been working on that had consumed much of time to that point. Well, they continued to consume even more time while building my relationship with Jill, and a couple of them have come to fruition now. I’d like to share those with you.

The first is that the study Bible I was working on has now been published, and I was honored to be listed as a contributing writer for the project. The (Dr. David) Jeremiah Study Bible (NKJV) is now available in print. I contributed notes, insight, and background for the following books: 1 Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Ezekiel, Matthew, Acts, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Thessalonians. I found it very rewarding to work with and get feedback from a team of writers who have had my respect over the years (and whose text books I’ve used in classes I’ve taught), including David Veerman.

Another project I took on, one that nearly consumed me, was to develop a concordance for the new Modern English Version of the Bible. Over the past few years, I have taught myself Visual Basic for Applications as a needed tool for my day job, and I was able to adapt some of my work with that to develop a program that searched all 66 Bible books to find terms for the concordance. The concordance has 5000 Scripture references (I think the publisher added more after I got done). I have a new-found respect for both James Strong and Goodrick & Kohlenberger. Strong developed his KJV concordance without modern technology, of course. Goodrick & Kohlenberger used modern technology to develop their NIV concordance, but since I had rather short context lines, I found it nerve racking at times to try to figure out what meaningful part of the context line to keep. I have not seen the MEV on the retail shelf yet, but I know my local Christian bookstore has it on order. The MEV is more of a literal translation, in the tradition of the KJV/NKJV.

I had also mentioned I was working on a stand-alone concordance/lexicon, but as of this post, I’ve not heard whether that has gone to press yet.

I can’t make any promises about my next post, but I do know I’m itching to write again. I learned much from my two Bible projects that I want to share, so I’ll have to go back through my notes to spark my memory. Thank you all for your continued readership, and thank you to the new readers who find me by whatever search engine picks up on my key words.

Peace,

Scott Stocking

August 30, 2012

Obedience (ὑπακοή, ὑπακούω) in Romans

Filed under: Biblical Studies,Immersion/Baptism,New Testament,Romans,Soteriology — Scott Stocking @ 6:11 am

I can think of a number of reasons Paul’s letter to the Romans wound up at the head of Paul’s writings in the New Testament. His discussion of justification by faith is classic, strengthened by his further treatment of the subject in Galatians. The statement from 1:16 has long been hailed from pulpits to encourage the body of Christ to boldly serve, speak, and act for the cause of the Gospel. I especially like Paul’s treatment of immersion in chapter 6, where he rescues the subject from those who downplay it as a “work of the flesh” by empowering it with the blood of Christ and his resurrection to make it an important and necessary part of our salvation journey. And of course, the Romans Road has long been an effective evangelistic tool for many, although I was never sure why that always took a detour around the heart of chapter 6. But there’s a bigger picture in Romans that often gets overlooked when we focus on verses and individual sections.

An Overlooked Inclusio

In a previous post, I mentioned that Romans 1:5 and its parallel in 16:26 form an inclusio for the entire book of Romans. However, in that post, I focused on the term πιστίς (“faith”/”faithfulness”), especially as Paul builds his initial argument in the first five chapters of Romans. In some contexts (e.g., Romans 1:17), that term refers to the faithfulness of Christ But what I noticed this time through Romans is that seven of the ten occurrences of the words for “obey” (ὑπακούω) and “obedience” (ὑπακοή) in Romans are found in chapters 6 (four times) and 15–16 (three times). The four occurrences of the words in chapter 6 come in the midst of his discussion about the significance of immersion and our being released from the slavery of sin. In fact, the words are tied to the metaphor of slavery in all occurrences there.

Because πιστίς refers to Christ in several key passages, I asked myself if “obedience” might have some Christological implications as well. One of the first passages that comes to mind is Philippians 2:8: “And being found in appearance of a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.” A few verses later (v. 12), Paul commends the Philippians for their obedience and encourages them to “work out [κατεργάζομαι] their salvation with fear and trembling.” That word for “work out” figures very prominently in Romans 7, where Paul speaks of “doing” what he does not want to “do.” What does this mean?

Breaking it Down

First, the discussion of obedience comes between the discussion of the significance of immersion and the popular conclusion to chapter 6 (cited in the Romans Road without the rest of the context of chapter 6): “The compensation for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Here is the irony: obedience or slavery to sin and obedience or slavery to Christ both lead to death. For those who are slaves to sin, they only have eternal death to look forward to, assuming they are looking forward to anything eternally. Obedience to Christ does lead to death, death to self, but there is on the other side the gift of eternal life. What is this obedience? One only need to look back to the first part of chapter 6: obedience to immersion. Just as Christ was obedient to death on a cross, we who believe are called to be obedient to death by immersion. Immersion is our Calvary. Immersion is also our Resurrection. Paul’s conclusion in 6:23 must be viewed in the context of 6:1–10.

Second, this gives new light to the phrase “obedience of faithfulness” found in Romans 1:5 and 16:26. The whole phrase is a euphemism of sorts for the crucifixion of Christ. It’s not just about legalistic obedience or stilted faithfulness. It’s about living this life sacrificially, knowing that we have eternal life as our ultimate reward on the other side of death. Ideally, obedience to immersion is a one-time event for the Christ-follower. But obedience in general is a lifelong commitment. Salvation is not a one-time event: it is a lifelong process we “work out… with fear and trembling.” Don’t get me wrong: we become a part of the kingdom the moment we put our trust in Christ, and we can be sure of the promise of eternal life from that moment on. But we cannot sit back and expect God to do everything for us. Repentance, discipline, study, meditation on God’s Word, and faithful obedience are all part of the “working out” process. We can never become perfect in this life, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try (Matthew 5:48, 19:21).

Conclusion

Those of you who are fond of the Romans Road, don’t take a detour around the discussion of immersion in the first part of chapter 6. It is part of the obedience that informs the rest of the discussion in Romans. To add a little more context to Romans 6:23, you might read it this way: “The compensation for slavery to sin is death, but the gift of God for those who are obedient to righteousness is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Immersion is our physical experience and signification of the death and resurrection of Christ. It’s not just a “work” that you can do whenever you think you’re ready. It’s an important component of working out your salvation as you grow in your faith in and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace,

Scott Stocking

Author note: “representation” changed to “signification” in last paragraph at 7:30 pm, 8/30/12.

July 26, 2012

The Mystery of Immersion (Baptism)

Filed under: Ecclesiology,Immersion/Baptism,New Testament,Soteriology — Scott Stocking @ 5:59 am

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through the Greek NT again this year. I am constantly blown away by the truths God is revealing to me on at least a weekly basis, if not daily at times. On the one hand, my faith has been strengthened immensely by the journey, but on the other hand, after I think I’ve got some topic all figured out, God throws me a curve ball by raising new questions in my mind about what I believe and understand. None of these questions have ever raised any doubt in my mind about the lordship of Christ or the existence of God, but they do compel me to dig deeper to discover more profound truths. Lest I be misunderstood, don’t think that I’m onto some new teaching the church has never seen before: I think Paul and the other apostles knew much more about God and Jesus than any one man could ever uncover in a lifetime of study, although some have come close.

Some Questions about Immersion

One area that I have striven to understand is that of “immersion,” my translation of the Greek word βάπτισμα, which translators usually render “baptism.” The word itself comes from the Greek verb βάπτω plus an intensifying verbal suffix –ιζω. The intensifying suffix in my mind is something that should not be overlooked in understanding the word. Βάπτω means “I dip”, but the intensifier adds an important nuance: βαπτίζω = “I dip all the way” or “I immerse.” I was christened as an infant in the Presbyterian church, and I find value in that practice inasmuch as it serves as a dedication to the parents and the rest of the Christian community to help raise a child in the way of the Lord. But the infant still has to grow and make his or her own choices, so I don’t see it in any way as a guarantee of salvation or inclusion in the eternal kingdom of God.

That is precisely the concept about immersion that I have wrestled with over the years: Is it an absolute guarantee of salvation just because you willingly submit to it as an adult who understands the sacrament? Is there no other means by which we can enter the kingdom of heaven other than immersion? I’ve worked through many of these questions in other posts, and I’m convinced of the efficacy of immersion as an act of obedience at the minimum, but as I continue to reflect on the subject, new questions come to mind:

  • If, as some of my colleagues would say, immersion is absolutely essential, a sine qua non experience to be considered part of the body of Christ, then have we not limited God’s ability to save whom he wants to save?
  • If immersion is absolutely essential for the forgiveness of sins and entry into the kingdom, then is there some mystical transubstantiation of the water into the blood of Christ, since “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins”?

Putting God in Box

Whenever we make one act binding on a person who wants to become a Christ follower, we run the risk of becoming overly legalistic about it in the first place. Second, we also by default deemphasize other aspects of Christian faith which are equally important. Someone might say, “I’m a Christian because I got immersed at camp when I was a kid,” yet he cusses like a sailor, cheats on his wife, and drinks to excess every night. On the other hand, a man might study Scripture, come to Christ according to his own understanding, and lead others to Christ as well, but has only ever known a tradition of infant christening. If I were to say “Immersion is absolutely essential for salvation,” I would feel like I was putting God in a box and denying his power to “show mercy on whom [he] will show mercy.” If God can reverse the physical laws of nature by causing the earth to change its rotation, if God can suspend the law of Moses to allow David and his men to eat the grain dedicated to the priests, then God can welcome unimmersed believers into his eternal heavenly kingdom.

Requiring immersion as an absolute essential presents another problem in my mind: It implies that we have a perfect knowledge of the Scriptural teachings on salvation at least, and by default implies that perfect knowledge and praxis of a doctrine is required for salvation. Paul is clear in 1 Corinthians 13 that we know in part and prophesy in part. We don’t have perfect knowledge. Some things about God and how he operates in the world just cannot be known, and this leads into my second question: Just what is the mystery that is immersion?

Objective Truth or Subjective Mystery?

(Let me preface this section with this caveat: by “mystery,” I mean something something that cannot be known or explained by merely human reason, not necessarily a conundrum to solve. I’m using the term more like the modern day Orthodox church uses it, and as Paul used it in Ephesians.)

Here are some things I know for sure about immersion. Translations will be somewhat literal to stay close to the Greek.

Acts 2:38: Repent, and let each one of you be immersed in the name of the Lord Jesus Messiah into the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Forgiveness is a huge part of the experience of immersion. But there are other ways to experience forgiveness that are not directly linked to immersion, so immersion cannot be the only way to receive forgiveness (e.g., Matthew 6:12–15; Hebrews 9:11–28, esp. v. 22; 1 John 1:9).

Romans 6:3–4: Or don’t you know that we who have been immersed into Messiah Jesus have been been immersed into his death? We were therefore buried together with him through this immersion into death, in order that just as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, likewise we also will walk in newness of life.

So the experience of immersion in Paul’s view in Romans is that it is linked to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. But Paul never mentions “forgiveness” in that chapter. The emphasis is on cleansing and purity.

Colossians 2:9–15: There are two allusions to blood in this passage that form an inclusio: circumcision and the cross. Immersion and forgiveness are tied together in the middle of the passage, along with the “cancelling” of the charge against us.

1 Peter 3:18–22: This is the trickiest of all passages. On the surface, it sounds like it is not the act itself that is important (“not the removal of dirt from the body”). But you still have to get immersed to make the “pledge.” Just as marriage vows have no weight without the wedding and marriage themselves, so the pledge is empty unless you demonstrate the faith to go through the water.

Here are the horns of the dilemma I find myself up against as I think about these things: On the one hand, if we are to ascribe to immersion an absolute salvific power, what is it about the act that gives it that power? If there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood, and Paul says we are immersed into Christ’s death, then is there a transubstantiation of the waters of immersion into the blood of Christ, much like the Catholics believe about the eucharistic elements? Is the mystery of becoming one with Christ that our bodies are somehow in the waters of immersion transubtantiated into Christ’s body so that we have truly experienced both his death and resurrection? If immersion is more than just a symbol of our unity with Christ, but an actual salvific event, then there is truly a mystery and a greater power at work that our human minds may never be able to comprehend fully or explain adequately.

On the other hand, if the mystery of a salvific immersion lies in the transubstantiation of the water into blood or some other mysterious power, then I cannot in good conscience deny a similar power to the eucharistic elements, the bread and the cup of the Lord’s Table. After all, Jesus said, “This is my body…. This is my blood.” Jesus never said they were “symbols” as many in the Restoration Movement (my own affiliation) have purported. We have said they were symbols because we didn’t want to be too Catholic about it. I prefer to take Jesus’s words at face value. If he and the early church instituted weekly communion as Acts seems to suggest, then like salvific immersion, there is something more powerful to the act and the elements than just symbolism, wheat, and grapes.

As I grapple these “horns,” I am coming to the conclusion that to ascribe salvific power to immersion, which is the death and resurrection of Christ, while denying salvific power (by calling it a symbol) to the Lord’s Table, which is the body and blood of Christ, is a gross theological inconsistency. Either immersion and the Lord’s Table both have a mysterious salvific power, or they are both symbols that represent spiritual truths but do not effect them (and yes, I am using “effect” correctly as a verb there).

To Transubstantiate or Not to Transubstantiate

Now I do not believe that Christ is recrucified every time I partake of the of the bread and the cup. Yet I cannot escape the very direct statements of Jesus about the bread and the cup being his body and blood, respectively. I understand that the statements could be metaphorical at least, but the reality behind that seems too profound and has too much ultimate significance to abandon to the realm of metaphor. So while I do not think the bread or the cup transubstantiate into the body and blood of Christ, I do prefer to consider there is some suprametaphorical mystery in the act of taking the bread and cup that transcends the physical elements. At the very least, the presence of the risen Lord at the Table whenever you remember the Lord’s sacrifice should put to rest that the elements are merely symbols. And if the Lord is present at the Table, those who partake may call on him for whatever needs are burdening their hearts. Even those who have been on the fence about being a Christ follower, if they recognize this deeper signification in the Lord’s Table, may partake and call upon the Lord for their own salvation.

Nor do I believe the waters of immersion transubstantiate into the blood of Christ. However, given the importance of immersion in the Scriptures, I do think it’s possible that another kind of transubstantiation takes place that I alluded to earlier. In identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in immersion, we experience the mystery of becoming one with Christ. I think I could fully embrace the concept that we are transubstantiated into the physical body of Christ on the one hand, experiencing his death, burial, and resurrection “in the heavenly realms” as it were. But when we are immersed, we also make the public signification that we are in fact Christ followers and part of the body of Christ universal, the fellowship of all the saints. If you’re not convinced of the latter, I’m not implying any judgment here. If you’re a Christ follower who has not been immersed, I for one am in no position to say that your salvation is in question. God knows your heart; he knows the journey you’ve taken with him; and I trust that he will lead you and me into all truth as we continue to follow Christ’s leading in our lives and study his Word diligently.

Conclusion

Salvation is not merely a point in time when we say we want to be a Christ follower, whether that is in the waters of immersion, at the mourner’s bench, or raising your hand with your head bowed in the pew. Salvation is a process that happens in our lives. If it were not a process, why would Paul say “With fear and trembling fulfill (κατεργάζομαι) your own salvation, for God, who is working in you, also wills and accomplishes good things” (Philippians 2:12b–13)? Our obedience allows God to accomplish his good will in our lives. That is another great mystery that I will perhaps explore at another time. For now…

Peace,

Scott

May 14, 2012

“Other Duties as Assigned” (Luke 17:7–10)

Filed under: Biblical Studies,Luke Gospel of,Work — Scott Stocking @ 6:14 am

Last month, I blogged briefly on what the Scriptures say about work. So I’ve been a little sensitive to that topic when it comes up in my daily reading. I was struck recently by Luke 17:7–10, where Jesus says, in so many words, “Don’t expect a huge fanfare of appreciation when all you’ve done is what is normally expected of you.” It didn’t take me too long to jump from that to my own job description as an Education and Curriculum Writer for my company. My main job is to take materials prepared by subject matter experts (SMEs) and develop Web-based training and other materials for our eventual approval as an organization that can offer continuing education credits. I have some advanced training in adult educational theory, so I’d like to think I’m ideally suited to the task.

Having spent several years working from home or working more-or-less independently as an adjunct professor, no one really had a claim on the rest of my time other than family. I was given a job to do, and I did it to the best of my ability. But now, after having been working for a company for the past 16 months, I think I have finally gotten adjusted to having a boss and understanding how I fit into the whole scheme of things as an employee. Lately, because we lost our data analyst at Christmas time and because I have a pretty strong math and Excel background, I got handed the task dealing with the data and putting it into the necessary templates in Word for our purposes. I was able to develop a couple VBA macros for Word and Excel that made the task almost embarrassingly easy, creating, on average, twenty-five six-page, personalized documents from the data in about ten minutes. And if something needed to be tweaked in all documents after they were created? Forget about it! I had learned how to do macros for that as well.

Now there’s a part of me that thinks I deserve a little extra commendation (read “pay raise”) for taking on this task that really was not in my field of expertise. But I was reminded of that humbling little phrase in my job description (and my coworkers’ job description and most likely your job description): “Other duties as assigned.” I had not written much of any computer code since my college days 30 years ago, long before Bill Gates became a household name. I had toyed with macros in some of my editing work, but not nearly to the extent that I have achieved in the past year. One of my coworkers loaned me her book on VBA for Microsoft applications, and that has been a life saver many times. But more than once, when I attempted to execute some piece of code, it just wouldn’t work like I thought it should. I think through this experience, more than any other, I have really come to appreciate the power of prayer.

Whenever I would get stuck on trying to get a piece of code to work, I would always lift it up to God. I would pray for understanding or to find the answer online or in the VBA reference book. Without fail, within an hour of reaching out to God for help, he directed me to answer or revealed to me the nature of the problem. Code is nothing but pure logic (in spite of the occasional Schroedinbugs), so to whom could I turn when I got stuck but the creator of logic himself?

This experience is just another in a long string of divine confirmations that God has me where he wants me. I just have to keep telling myself that that is a far greater benefit or reward than the praise of my bosses or coworkers or any pay raises or bonuses (I won’t turn any of that down, though!). Becoming the go-to guy for the data was nothing more than “other duties as assigned,” so “I am an unworthy servant; I have done what I ought to do.”

Peace,

Scott Stocking

April 22, 2012

Sing a New Song (Psalm 98; Ephesians 5:18–21)

Filed under: Biblical Studies,Ecclesiology,Ephesians,New Testament,Old Testament,Psalms — Scott Stocking @ 7:34 am

NOTE: The following is revised and expanded from an article I wrote that appeared in the February 4, 2001, edition of The Christian Standard.

Sports fans are passionate people. They love their favorite teams and cheer them on with great enthusiasm. But sometimes their passion gets out of control, and violence erupts. We have seen this on a number of occasions, especially when a favorite team wins a big game or a national championship. Revelry and carousing take place in the streets, some even firing guns into the air, while others are hurt or injured from brawls that break out.

Don’t Get Drunk on Wine. . .

The country witnessed this behavior in 2000 when Los Angeles residents rioted after the Lakers won the NBA title. No doubt in many of these incidents of individuals or crowds getting out of hand, alcohol was a major contributing factor. Alcohol breaks down our inhibitions and our sense of self-control, and leads to all kinds of misbehavior. Although Midwesterners are a little more subdued in their celebrations, I have no doubt that St. Louisans lined Busch Brewery’s pockets after Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series.

Expressing passion for a sports team can be turned into a positive model of worship. After all, the word “fan” comes from the word “fanatic.” Do we love God and express our praise for him as much as we do our favorite teams? Hasn’t God done much more than win a World Series or an NBA title? Now granted, I don’t want us going out and getting drunk for Jesus. Eph 5:18 provides a good balance for us when celebrating what God has done in our lives: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Paul warns that controlled substances and uncontrolled behaviors are not the proper way to celebrate or to let off steam at the extremes of life. These only lead to trouble, hardship, and sin.

Instead, Be Filled with the Spirit

Instead, Paul exhorts his readers to “be filled with the Spirit.” The similarity here with the negative command against alcohol may escape some: with alcohol, we give up control of our faculties to a mindless substance, and our corrupt flesh nature rises to the surface. If you’ve ever had too much to drink, you know what I mean. You say things when you’re tipsy that you wouldn’t say when you’re sober. Your ability to drive and walk is impaired. Being filled with the Spirit, however, implies that we are giving up control to “the mind of Christ” and to the God who created us for his purposes—our “new man” shines forth.

Understanding this truth is one key to getting a handle on the “worship wars” that many congregations have experienced in the past twenty years. Many in the older generations (“the builders” and to a certain extent, the “boomers”) fuss at the younger generation because of the latter’s desire to have more contemporary choruses and the additional accompaniment of guitars, drums, and so on. At the same time the younger generations (“busters,” “X,” and “2K”) complain about the slow tempo of some traditional hymns and the unpopularity (from their perspective) of the piano or church organ, or both. (One is hard pressed to find a successful radio station today that plays only piano and organ music!) When I moved back to Nebraska in 2010, I got reconnected with the congregation that sent me off to seminary. The sermon series that first Sunday I was back was “I Love the 80s.” Each week, the worship team performed a different (secular) hit song from the 80s, and the pastor used Scripture to highlight the significant themes of the song.

The one who is critical of the worship style a congregation uses is equally as guilty as the one who condemns another for not jumping on board a congregation’s preferred worship style, or a congregation’s desire to establish a more culturally relevant style. Neither group is filled with the Spirit. Neither group is more holy or righteous than the other is simply because of what its preferred style of music is. If we are filled with the Spirit when we come to worship, we allow the Holy Spirit to break down our inhibitions about style, while he directs our attention to the substance of the hymn or chorus.

Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

When we get beyond our personal preferences about style, only then can we truly appreciate the command to “sing a new song” to our Lord. Paul goes on in Eph 5:19–20 to explain what he means by being filled with the Spirit. The first aspect is “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” Paul here seems to bring the old (psalms, hymns) and the new (spiritual songs) together for the mutual edification of the body, and for the purpose of expressing thanks to our God. In fact, the five verbs that come after “be filled with the Spirit” are all subordinate to that command in some way, because they are all participles. Here is my outline for the organization of those verses:

Be filled (πληρόω) with the Spirit

    Speaking (λαλέω) to one another with psalms (ψαλμός), hymns (ὕμνος), and spiritual songs (ᾠδή)

        Singing (ᾄδω) and

        Making music (ψάλλω) in your hearts to the Lord,

        Always giving thanks (εὐχαριστέω) to God the Father…

    Submitting (ὑποτάσσω) to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The passion in that exhortation is self-evident. The musical expression of God’s Word was a vital part of the fellowship experience of first century Christians. This has been true throughout the centuries in the Christian faith, and still holds true today. Passionate worship is one of the signs of a living, growing, fruit-bearing congregation. Passionate worship shows the world that we really do love our Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

The second aspect of being filled with the Spirit is that we “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21). Like the Fifth Commandment (Ex 20:12), this command serves as general statement of transition between our spiritual relationships (worship of God within the body) and our earthly relationships (family and work). In the context of the former (worship), submitting to one another implies that we show mutual respect for each other’s preferred styles. If the Spirit is present, style is at best a secondary concern. What matters is keeping the unity of the Spirit with the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).

The New Song

The most common hymnbook in the pews of the churches I served in the past twenty years was Favorite Hymns of Praise (Tabernacle Publishing, Wheaton, IL) copyrighted in 1967. One day while preparing a sermon on the topic of the “new song,” I thumbed through the hymns and browsed an Internet site with hymn histories. I discovered that most of the hymns were in the public domain or the copyright had expired. In other words, they were written before copyright laws went into effect in the early 1920s. Although many of these hymns contain important, timeless truths about God and our faith, they are nonetheless “old.” The fact that they are old does not detract from their value, but it may detract from their appeal to younger generations.

The command to “sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 98:1) is not one which was negated by the New Covenant. All nine occurrences of the phrase “new song” in the NIV are connected with the victory, salvation, and justice of God.

God is still winning victories today, every time someone professes faith in him and receives baptism by immersion. In Luke 15, we see that the angels throw a heavenly party over each sinner who repents. Each soul has a unique story of how he or she came to know Christ, and each story is worthy of a “new song.”

Psalm 98

Psalm 98 is by far the most vivid statement of the “new song” in Scripture. The psalm consists of three stanzas of three verses each. In each of the first three verses, God’s salvation is mentioned. Verses 2–3 are particularly prophetic: the word for “salvation” (יְשׁוּעָה) is related to the word translated elsewhere as “Joshua,” or to the Greeks, “Jesus.”

Verses 4–6 make it clear that enthusiasm and passion are important, if not necessary, elements of worship. This second stanza begins and ends with the command to “shout for joy” (רוע). Verse 4 in the NIV is rendered “burst into jubilant song with music,” but the KJV reveals that the phrase is actually made up of only three verbs. “Burst” (KJV has “make a loud noise”; פצח) has the image of flood waters built up behind a dam or levee that suddenly break through clearing out everything in its path. “Jubilant song” (KJV has “rejoice”; רנן) is used of the mountains in vs. 8. “Music” (KJV has “sing praise”; זמר) is actually the root word for “psalm” (see the Ephesians passage above), which is a song sung to musical accompaniment.

God as Audience

Verse 6 is the crux of the entire psalm. The word “before” can also be translated “in the presence of.” When we “shout for joy in the presence of the Lord, the King,” the obvious conclusion here is that God is the audience. Those of us who worship, then, are the performers. The condition in Psalm 33:3 makes a great deal of sense, then: “play skillfully.” God wants us to give our best. Our best may not win us any recording contracts, but he does want us to worship with all that we are.

God wants us to praise him even when we do not feel like praising him, or even when we do not think our talents are good enough to contribute to the body. Jehoshaphat placed the choir out in front of the troops, and ultimately they did not have to lift a finger in violence against their enemies. God won the victory. Praise has a power that goes far beyond our ability and our comprehension. The point is: “SING!”

The final three stanzas reveal that worship is for all of God’s creation, not just his chosen people. In part, it is evangelistic. 1 Corinthians 14 indicates that orderly, comprehensible worship is a powerful tool for reaching the unsaved. If our forms of worship are foreign to the culture around us, we will not have a significant impact on our culture.

A Bold Example

One congregation I served in had a “talent” night. Two high school freshmen boys “rapped” Will Smith’s song “Just the Two of Us.” The “rap” is about Will Smith’s desire to be a good father to his son, in spite of his divorce from the boy’s mother. Nothing in the song is offensive to the Christian values of parenthood. I know some of our elderly members were squirming, if not fuming, from allowing that song to be performed in the sanctuary. But neither of these two young men has significant contact with their biological fathers. I interpreted that song as a heartfelt prayer of those two young men for a relationship like the one Will Smith sang about.

Conclusion

In worship, we long to draw near to our heavenly Father, just as those two teenagers longed to have a close relationship with their earthly fathers. Singing a new song to the Lord is one way to praise God for his victories in our lives, both past and future. If we are not singing new songs to the Lord, the rocks themselves will cry out declaring the righteous rule of our Savior and Lord.

Peace!

Scott Stocking

April 19, 2012

Work: The “Rest” of the Story (Ecclesiastes 3)

Filed under: Biblical Studies,Ecclesiastes,Genesis,Old Testament,Work — Scott Stocking @ 6:04 am

I was catching up on my Men’s Fraternity videos the other day when Robert Lewis said something that kind of shocked me: Most people never hear a sermon on the theology of work. He went back through his church’s tape catalog for 27 years worth of sermons and found only one sermon devoted to the topic of work. I had wrestled with that subject several times and have come to my own conclusions, but I’ve never really devoted a blog post to it. Our Dave Ramsey FPU session a couple weeks ago was about work as well, so the topic is fresh on my mind. Since I’ve been in a bit of a dry spell lately, I thought this topic would be just the thing to break my writer’s block.

The Genesis of Work

God himself originated the idea of work when he decided to create all that exists. “The earth was tohu webohu,” says Genesis 1:2, “formless and empty,” “nothing but chaos.” The creation account is one of bringing order to that chaos. The account itself reflects a definite order to it, as I show in Table 1.

Day 0: “In the beginning”—Chaos

Day 1: Light

Day 4: The lighted bodies

Day 2: Sky and water

Day 5: Air and water creatures

Day 3: Dry ground

Day 6: Land-dwelling creatures; Man

Day 7: “God rested from his work.”—Order

 

This reveals, then, one of God’s purposes for work, even though it is not expressly stated in the Genesis account: Work brings order out of chaos. You don’t have to think about that too long to realize it’s true. Look at a mechanic’s garage when he’s rebuilding an engine. All of the parts—pistons, heads, crankshaft, gaskets, bolts, etc.—are (to the untrained eye) scattered, and the unlearned don’t have a clue how it all goes together. But the mechanic has the ability to bring order to that apparent chaos. The mechanic, however, does not have the ability to “speak” order to those parts as God did, but through hard work, he can reassemble the engine into a functional device. This is not to say that God’s speech isn’t “work”, either. When God spoke the universe into existence, he also, by default, spoke into existence all the laws of physics, chemistry, geology, plate tectonics, etc. You and I just can’t create, alter, or suspend natural laws. We have to work within those foundational laws.

The Work of Freedom

When God finished the work of creation, he rested on the seventh day. Here’s the irony in my mind. Not only does God create work, he also creates rest. Work and rest are both good aspects of God’s creation. That concept of rest became so important that God included it in the Ten Commandments. Not only couldn’t the Israelites work, but they couldn’t make their servants work either. It was a day of rest initially, but Jesus turned the conventional view of the Sabbath on it’s head. In Luke 13, he healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath. The synagogue ruler complained that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, but Jesus put him and his opponents in their place. Jesus brought “rest” to this woman on the Sabbath, freeing her from her bondage.

So here, I think, is another principle of work, and a seemingly paradoxical one at that: work brings freedom. Jesus ignored a long-held myth about the Sabbath in order to bring physical freedom to this woman. I think that’s also behind Dave Ramsey’s oft-repeated maxim: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”™ I know the pain of being “slave to the lender,” and it is not pleasant. Some days I was burning the candle at both ends, and I still have trouble shaking that exhaustion. But God has been faithful to see me through it.

The Old Testament Concept

The Old Testament has what seems to be a radically different concept of “work” than what we are used to in the modern day. But a closer look reveals that perhaps the differences aren’t so stark. In the OT, you had your land, and you worked it to grow your food, raise your animals, and provide for your family. The male often had a trade and could barter his services for things his family needed that he couldn’t produce himself. However, if someone got to a point where he couldn’t provide for himself or his family, he had to sell himself (and possibly his family) to the lender. Back then, they called that slavery. Today, we call it “employment.” Think about it: Unless you’re an entrepreneur and can create or contract for your own work, you have to go to someone who can pay you to help with their work. You have to follow their rules, their procedures, their codes of conduct. You’re a “slave” to the “man” (or in my case, the “woman” J).

Sadly, I think we’ve come to rely too much on companies to hire us or even worse, for the government to send us a monthly check (unless we’re otherwise disabled or retired), and we’ve lost much of the entrepreneurial spirit that made America the great land of opportunity. I spent years piecing together a meager income at odd jobs (mostly teaching in various venues and editing, my strengths) so I could be at home with the kids when they were younger. But now that life has forced me, or rather, God has led me, to a regular 8–5 (or now 7–4) job, I have seen work from a different perspective. Sure, I still have an independent spirit that wants to break free and branch out on my own, but I’m kind of sold on the benefits that go along with working for someone who can actually provide benefits!

I think the hardest lesson for me so far is that of teamwork. Setting aside my independence was a difficult thing to do, but I’ve reaped great rewards. I have the added benefit of an employer who has allowed me to work in my strengths and try new things that have both expanded my skill set and produced success I’ve never experienced before. I think this is where the “rest” of work is most evident: Satisfaction in a job well done. Solomon sums it up nicely in Ecclesiastes 3:9–13 (NIV):

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Whatever you do, I pray that you do it for the glory of God. I wish you wild success in the things you put your hands and minds to.

Peace!

Scott Stocking

March 31, 2012

When Iron Sharpens Iron, Sparks Fly (Proverbs 27:17)

Filed under: Biblical Studies,Old Testament,Proverbs,Spiritual Warfare — Scott Stocking @ 6:55 am

One of my favorite sections of Proverbs is 27:14–21. Here it is from the newest version of the NIV:

14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,

it will be taken as a curse.

15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping

of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;

16 restraining her is like restraining the wind

or grasping oil with the hand.

17 As iron sharpens iron,

so one person sharpens another.

18 The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,

and whoever protects their master will be honored.

19 As water reflects the face,

so one’s life reflects the heart.

20 Death and Destruction are never satisfied,

and neither are human eyes.

21 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,

but people are tested by their praise.

Good Morning?

I’ve always been a morning person. I get up daily by 5:30 to get my Bible study in and get ready for work. But many years ago, when I came across Proverbs 27:14, I was in utter disbelief that such a verse would be in the Bible. Morning people are a curse to their neighbors! Now admittedly, I’m dealing with this a little tongue-in-cheek. I think most of know what this verse is really talking about. You know the type, the one who sees you dragging into work before the coffee or other caffeinated beverage kicks in and decides to have a little fun at your expense. “Hi, Scott! Beautiful morning, isn’t it? Just breathe in that fresh morning air!” You want to turn around and smack the guy silly, right? Now of course, I’m not advocating that.

Keep in mind that Proverbs is not a book of commands, but a book of pithy generalities about life. They are statements that ring true to us about the way things are, but they were never intended to be transformed into commands. If you’re obnoxious early in the morning, some people just aren’t going to like that. In fact, the next two verses seem to have a similar theme: being obnoxious doesn’t win you any friends.

Good Wife?

The imagery Solomon applies to quarrelsome wives is even more striking. If you’ve ever had a leaky roof, you know exactly what he’s talking about. About a year ago, the same week I was moving out of my mom’s basement and into my own place, their upstairs toilet started leaking pretty bad into what had been my bedroom. It was a mess, to say the least, and a pain to keep up with. And trying to reason with a quarrelsome wife? Forget about it! Not only is it difficult to hold oil in your hand, but it’s also hard to get off unless you use some hot water and soap. Your hands feel slimy until you can get the oil off of them.

Good Men?

This brings me to Proverbs 27:17, a verse that is at the heart of nearly every men’s ministry message and program that’s ever been published. But as I’m prone to do, I’m about to shatter that long-held belief that the verse refers to positive male camaraderie. A look at the Hebrew of the verse and a little common sense about metallurgy will help make the point.

Have you ever watched someone forge a sword? First of all, you have to get the metal hot enough to melt into the basic shape of the sword. Then once the sword has its basic shape, it’s repeatedly subjected to the hot fire and hammered on an anvil to refine its shape and give it its edge. Once it has the length and temper it needs to be a good sword, the smith gives it its sharp edge by grinding and polishing. It is at that step of the process that we see the true nature of Proverbs 27:17.

When iron strikes iron, or even when iron sharpens iron, sparks fly. The Hebrew word for “sharpen” (חָדַד, ḥā∙ḏǎḏ) here is only used six times in the Old Testament: twice in Proverbs 27:17, three times in Ezekiel 21:9–11, and once in Habakkuk 1:8. Solomon’s use of the word in Proverbs 27:17 seems rather innocuous if we fail to look past the popular modern interpretation, but it is the second half of the verse that really got me thinking that this might not be the comfortable camaraderie often portrayed: “one man sharpens the face of a friend.” Now I ask you, does that sound like mutual encouragement? Does that sound like a slap on the back? NO! The passages in Ezekiel speak of the sword being sharpened for the slayer going out to slaughter. Habakkuk uses it to describe the fierceness of horsemen going out to battle. It sounds more like two guys battling each other just to stay ahead. It sounds like they might be getting on each other’s nerves. Granted, that could be for the better, but I think the context may suggest otherwise.

You still don’t believe me? An obnoxious morning person? A quarrelsome wife? She’s compared to oil, wind, a dripping faucet. But two men going at it? Iron on iron. Sparks are flying, baby. No holds barred. Hear the clank of hammer and steel on the anvil. Feel the crushing pain of missing the anvil and striking your thumb, times ten! And what about the verses that come after? Guarding, protecting: sounds like dangerous guy stuff. Death and Destruction never being satisfied: ’nuff said. Crucibles: subjected to the heat of purifying fire.

I think verse 19 is the crux verse here: “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” I’ve been reading John Eldredge lately (Wild at Heart; Beautiful Outlaw), so I’m kind of pumped on guy stuff right now. I’m rediscovering what he calls the deep heart of a man: “a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.” I’ve been asking myself what my life shows about my heart. Has it shown that I’m a warrior or a wimp? I’ve certainly picked my fights like William Wallace. They didn’t involve guns or swords, however. But they did often attack issues of the heart, especially greed and corruption. Those can be just as ugly as any battle scene from Braveheart. The trouble was, my “beauty” at the time didn’t want anything to do with my battle. That struck at the core of my manhood, and I’ve been climbing back ever since.

Guys, what does your life reflect about your heart? Are you the man’s man that Eldredge talks about in Wild at Heart? Or have you become a restrained Mr. Incredible, forced to keep your super powers in check behind an office desk because society is afraid of the inherent threat you pose to their comfort? If you haven’t read anything by John Eldredge, I would encourage you to get hold of a copy of Wild at Heart. The principles in there have taken me to a new level of manhood in my life, but I can still see that I have a long way to go. And if you’re in Omaha, beginning April 21, 2012, at StoneBridge Christian Church, 8:00 a.m., our men’s group will begin a nine-week series on Beautiful Outlaw.

Peace!

Scott Stocking

StoneBridge Christian Church is located at 15801 Butler Street, between Fort and Maple.

March 27, 2012

The Domino Effect

Filed under: Biblical Studies,Genesis,Old Testament — Scott Stocking @ 7:37 am

“We weren’t set up to be messed up,

But we messed up what God set up.”

 

The Domino Effect, p. 1.

 

Please come to the six-week look at “falling forward into the story of Good and Evil” at

 

StoneBridge Christian Church, 15801 Butler, Omaha, NE

 

Wednesdays @ 7 p.m. beginning March 28, 2012.

 

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.