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Todd
Apr 14, 2021
In Conversations
During the Reformation, Biblical Interpretation changed. It became the orthodox position that Scripture has one and only one meaning. This was important because the allegorical interpretation of Scripture sometimes allowed people to find some very fanciful interpretations of Scripture passages. The Jewish philosopher, Philo, said that Abraham represented the Greek Philosopher. He stopped at Haran which means "holes". This signified that he was using his senses to understand but moved on to Canaan to become a truly enlightened philosopher. Marrying Sarah was marrying abstract wisdom. You can see how this type of interpretation allows the Scripture to become putty in the hands of the interpreter. So it is good that we ordinarily follow the principles of biblical interpretation as we try to figure out the meaning of Scripture. This is especially important as we define doctrine and try to understand the teaching of Scripture. However, that is not the only way that we read Scripture. We also read Scripture to communicate with God. We pray the Scripture and through those prayers God speaks to us in very personal ways through the Holy Spirit. When my father was dying, we went through a rollercoaster of emotions, faith and doubt for the 10 days he was in the hospital. I prayed and searched God's word for help. God spoke to me through Hebrews 2:13, "And again, "I will put my trust in Him." The "and again" is just introducing another quotation from the Old Testament. The verse is not talking about putting our trust in God over and over again but at that very difficult time in my life, the Holy Spirit gave me comfort and peace through those words. God spoke to me in a personal way as I engaged with his Word. So, it is good and right that we should be careful as we interpret God's Word. When I prepare to preach I am careful to follow the principles of interpretation very carefully. However, we should also be open to letting God speak to us through his word in whatever way he wants to. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.
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Todd
Jan 27, 2021
In Conversations
"Give mommy hug." "Time to go nighty night." "It is hardly pertinent to me that you do not desire to repose." One of these three statements is not what you would say to a toddler. When you speak to a child, you adjust how you speak, grammar and vocabulary, so that the child can understand you. In the same way, when God spoke to the Israelites, he adjusted his speech to the culture and worldview of the people to whom he was speaking. In the past week or so, we have read a lot of things that are difficult to understand for us. We have read of ancient laws, designs for the tabernacle, and how to consecrate priests. This all seems weird and remote to our 21st century minds. However, these things all fit into the culture of the people to whom they were originally written. Archeology had found similar laws, altars and ceremonies in the cultures that surrounded Israel. That makes sense. God had to speak to Israel in terms that made sense within their worldview. Some people might think that God should be beyond culture. That he should have spoken in a transcendent way that was above every culture. The trouble is that we can only understand things within our culture. When I write "神爱你“, you cannot understand what I have written unless you know Chinese (or you use Google Translate). Language is one aspect of culture but there are more. All of the instructions for building the tabernacle and the furnishings for worship were speaking into the Israelite worldview. They were saying that God cared enough to enter into the culture of this ancient Semitic People in a way they could understand. He would use building materials and altars with horns that were familiar to the people. This helps us to understand why the bible sounds strange to us sometimes. Even so, the message is encouraging. Just as God spoke to the Israelites in cultural forms they could understand, he comes to us in language and cultural forms we can understand. It is one of the strengths of our faith that Christianity is translatable. What sections of the bible that you have read so far this year have been confusing because of their cultural aspects?
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Todd
Jan 14, 2021
In Conversations
As we move into the end of the book of Genesis, we see how people are always trying to get what they want. Instead of trusting God's good plan, they strive, plan and finagle. Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit instead of trusting God to define Good and Evil. Cain murders his brother instead of trusting God and honoring him through faith. Noah tries to forget about the terrible flood by getting drunk and ends up shamed by his son. The people of Babel try to build a monument to themselves and end up scattered over the earth. Abraham and Sarah try to get an heir through Hagar and create a dysfunctional family drama. Rebecca and Jacob try to manipulate Isaac into giving Jacob the family blessing and Jacob ends up having to run away to his uncle. Laban tries to get his oldest daughter married off and ends up with a daughter who spends her life trying to win her husband's approval. Jacob tries to give Joseph a place of honor by giving him a coat and Joseph ends up being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Judah tries to protect his youngest son from Tamar's "curse" and ends up unwittingly sleeping with his own daughter-in-law. Potiphar's wife tries to get Joseph to sleep with him and Joseph ends up in prison. The whole story is filled with failure and sin. Yet, somehow, through it all we see God at work using the evil that people do to bring about his good purposes. The story of Genesis is an illustration of Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." To me, that is encouraging because no matter how much I mess up, I know that God is not limited by my failures but is able to use even those to bring about his good purpose for those of us who love him. Even the murder of the Messiah ended up in the salvation of those of us, who through our sins, murdered him. What was your biggest takeaway from Genesis?
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Todd
Jan 05, 2021
In Conversations
This morning I read the story of Hagar. Some things in the story bothered me. Hagar was a slave. She was being used by Abram and Sarai for their purposes. God tells her to go back into slavery and submit to her master. If I were reading this text as with the question of, "What does God say about slavery?" I would find the text appalling. However, if I ask a different question, "Who is this God that the story talks about?" I find a different answer. We see Abram and Sarai abusing Hagar. She is a pawn, being used to get an heir for Abram and Sarai. Because Sarah abuses her, Hagai runs away. However, the God who sees, sees this dark skinned Egyptian woman of no status and sends the Angel of the LORD to her. Many commentators see the Angel of the LORD as the pre-incarnate Christ. If that is true, then Jesus appeared to Haggai and told her she would have a son. God told her to go back to Abram and Sarai because it was a place of safety for her. She was a part of the community of Abram's family. In that family, she was a part of the people of God. The lesson I get from this is that God sees the outcast and the abused. God cares! What questions are you asking as you read through the Scriptures this year?
What is the question you are asking as you read? content media
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Todd
Jan 02, 2021
In Conversations
I just started my journey through the Bible for this year. I have been doing this for the last 30 plus years. Sometimes I have read it quickly. Sometimes I have read it slowly. Some years I have read commentaries on the text and one year I took notes on every verse. But the one thing that I need to remind myself is that reading the bible is not supposed to be an academic exercise. It is a spiritual journey. I read the bible to get to know Jesus. He speaks to us through His Word. With that in mind, I need to approach the bible expectantly and prayerfully. I encourage you as you walk through the Scripture this year to read it with a prayerful heart that is expecting to meet the God who loves you enough to reveal himself to you. Dear Jesus, open my heart and mind to hear you as I read your word. Fill me with your Spirit so that what I read draws me closer to you and I become more and more the person that you have created me to be! Amen.
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Todd
Dec 30, 2020
In Conversations
Welcome to our Through the Bible Discussion Forum. This is a place where we can interact as we read through the Scriptures together. I welcome you to post thoughts, ideas, questions and insights as we walk through the God's Story in 2021. I pray that we can help each other to learn and grow as we engage God's Word together. Welcome to the adventure!!!
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