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    9&1030

    Tuesday
    Feb132018

    When Maybe Doesn't Mean That Much

     

    My dear theologians,

     

    Was on a high school campus earlier today. Not unusual.


    Several days a week I’m in classrooms at any one of the high schools in the Sandy Eggo Unified School District.  Couple of reasons: First, the Office of College, Career and Technical Education asked me to ‘work’ with their first-year high school teachers, and secondly – well, and secondly, it’s where I find high school teachers.  A joy (Okay, and a challenge) to serve quite a number of wonderfully passionate teachers who, by this time in the school year, know that I when I walk into their classroom, I will be talking with their students before I talk with them.


    I’ll take a knee or pull up a chair next to a student and begin a conversation with, “Please tell me what you’re working on.” Two questions follow: 1. “How do you know when you’ve done it right?” 2. “Where, outside this classroom, might you use that skill?”


    The students with whom I interact are learning biotechnology, culinary arts, engineering, graphic communications, computer science, videography, entrepreneurship – to list a few. They know exactly what it means to be a student and learn in a structured way; they fill the role in class five days a week. They know they are expected to draw critical conclusions about what they read and hear and do in class. They complete hours of meaningful outside-the-classroom projects (I don’t believe in homework). They seek tutoring when the class becomes difficult. The students understand that what is important is worth time and effort to attain. They work hard to learn because learning points to definable future outcomes.


    Here’s an insert your own adjective here thought: What if we gave students the Bible and expected them to learn it? What if we asked them to read it like a book—to apply the same skills they are learning in their English class to this sacred text? Read entire books from start to finish. Annotate major themes. Summarize. Outline. Read repetitively. What if?


    What if we asked them to learn to rightly divide the Word of Truth with all the discipline they apply to learning construction skills, biomedical interventions or strategies for renewable energy? With the enthusiasm they invest in athletics, music and prom? In an age where the pattern for achieving success has been to repeatedly lower the bar, maybe we should do what my first-year teachers are taught: Raise it.


    “And your point is?” Well, what if we, as theologians, become students of Scripture…using a similarly structured approach? With a similar energy? What if we become eager to hear a conversation begin, “Please tell me what part of God’s Word you’re working on.”

     

    Just asking.


    In Your Debt,


    R                     A                      L                    P                     H

    Monday
    Feb052018

    Reading Would Be A Good Start

     

    My dear theologians,

     

    Okay, reading the Bible would be good start before studying but, come on, “the Bible is boring.” Whoa there, wait a hold-it, slooooow down. You call these verses boring?

     

                A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of

                Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac….Salmon the father of Boaz

                whose mother was Rahab…David was the father of Solomon whose

                mother had been Uriah’s wife… (Mt 1:1, 5, 6)

     

    True. Not a whole lot of scintillating stuff there unless – unless one asks, “Who are these people?” But now we’re talking study. A quick study identifies Rahab as a hooker and Uriah’s wife the woman with whom King David had an affair (Bathsheba). And these people are in Jesus’ direct family line! Not so boring, now.

     

    The boredom that some people experience with the Bible sent my brain browser into ‘think fast’ mode when I was interviewing for a staff position with a NorCal worshipping community. The statement was, “We need someone young and energetic, someone with a dynamic method who will be able to ‘make the Bible come alive.’” While I knew what was being asked, I nevertheless wanted to say, “You want me to make the Bible come alive? I didn’t know it had died. If fact, I never even heard that it was ill. Who was the attending doctor at the Bible’s demise?” (I didn’t…probably wouldn’t have been offered the assignment had I spoken my irreverent thoughts.)

     

    When people say the Bible is boring, couple of things: 1. There are places, that without asking meaningful questions about what was read, do appear to be boring, and 2. Makes me wonder how that determination was made. Biblical characters are full of life. There is a unique quality of passion about them. Their lives reveal drama, lust, crime, devotion and every conceivable aspect of human existence (to which Vizzini might exclaim, “Inconceivable!” Yes, another Princess Bride flashback). There is rebuke, remorse, contrition, consolation, practical wisdom, philosophical reflection and, most of all, truth. The Truth.

     

    Get started. Read on!

     

    In Your Debt,

     

    R                   A                     L                      P               H

    Friday
    Nov242017

    No One Reads Blogs Anymore...

     

    ...or so I've been told. However comma you are reading this blog post at this very moment in time, space, and history - whenever that is. May as well read on. 

     

    Entries on this blog were posted during several different Sunday morning adult Christian edcuation classes. Yes, the dates are dated - quite dated in some cases - but the content is still relevant. So, as long as you're here, might as well scroll through and read a few. Thanks.

     

    R           A              L                      P                    H

     

     

    Monday
    Nov062017

    Beyond Belief

     

    My dear theologians,

     

    The hope of resurrection is woven into a thousand stories…Okay, probably more. One of the stories I like best is called The Shawshank Redemption. The hero, Andy Dufresne, initially underwhelms the narrator, Red: “I must admit I didn’t think much of Andy the first time I laid eyes on him…. Looked like a still breeze could blow him over.”

     

    Dufresne is unjustly arrested, tried, condemned, and beaten. But as we watch him through Red’s eyes, something like wonder begins to grow. In a brutal prison world he is kind. He is a man of hidden strengths who creates a library and helps his captors with their taxes. He is anxious for nothing: “Strolls like a man in a park without a care or a worry,” says Red.

     

    Andy is persecuted by the warden, a pharisaical hypocrite who hands him a Bible and tells him, “Salvation lies within” (in the end, it does, but I’m not telling you how: watch the movie).

     

    Andy, the Christ figure, and Red, the noble pagan, have a running argument about hope. Andy says that music is important in a prison – maybe more important in prison than anywhere else, because it reminds hearers that there is an unseen reality the powers of the prison cannot touch.

     

    Red asks what he’s talking about.

     

    Hope.

     

    Red says hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. Andy says hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever dies.

     

    Red finds out paradoxically that when he leaves prison (no I’m not telling you how: watch the movie), life without hope cannot sustain him. His options are suicide or return to prison, except for a promise he made to his friend Andy. He does what Andy had asked.  

     

    Red’s narration closes the movie:

     

    I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head….

    I hope I can make it to the border.

    I hope to see my friend and shake his hand.

    I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.

    I hope….

     

    To Andy, to Red, to my dear theologians: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Ro 15:13). He is risen! (He is risen, indeed!)

     

    In Your Debt,

     

    R                             A                         L                            P                     H     

    Monday
    Oct302017

    In Between

     

    My dear theologians,

     

    The Apostle John: “Have any plans for the weekend?”

     

    Simon Peter: “Not really. I’m just going to wait around for Sunday to see what happens.”

     

    We’ve read the accounts in all four of the Gospels (or at least we know where to find the accounts in each of the Gospels – near the end!). We know what happened on Friday. We know what happened on Sunday. But what about the day after this and the day before that? The day after a prayer gets prayed but no answer is on the way. The after a soul gets crushed way down but there’s no promise of ever getting up. It’s a strange day, I think, this in-between day. In between despair and joy. In between confusion and clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light.

     

    The two days on either side of Saturday are heavily discussed. Some of the brightest minds in the world have devoted themselves primarily to those two days; they have been across the centuries maybe the two most studied days in history. The Bible is full of what happened the day before – the day Jesus was killed. And Sunday is the day of the most death-defying, grave-defeating, fear-destroying, hope-inspiring day in the history of mankind.

     

    But Saturday? Even in the Bible – outside of one detail about guards being posted to watch the tomb – we’re told nothing about Saturday. Saturday is the day with no name, the day when nothing happened.

     

    So, why in the wide, wide world of calendars and miracles is there a Saturday? It doesn’t seem to further the story line at all. I’m thinking that if Jesus was going to be crucified and then resurrected, God would just get on with it. It seems strange to me for God to spread two events over three days.

     

    In its own way, perhaps Saturday should mark the world as much as Friday and Sunday. Maybe it wasn’t a day on which “nothing happened.”

     

    Set your clocks back an hour this Saturday and look forward to exploring ‘that’ Saturday this Sunday.

     

    In Your Debt,

     

    R                              A                           L                          P                     H