Saturday, May 30, 2009

Travelling Options

I am the Great Northwest and I have some time to kill. I am in Richland, WA and I have an appointment at 5pm (7 hours to kill). I could drive an hour and a half back to the place I'm staying in Pendleton, Or and I can drive an hour north to Yakima where I've never been before. I think I'm heading to Yakima. Hopefully I'll have something to tell about.
Actually had a full service gas fill up last night. Wasn't optional. Felt kinda useless. Did clean my windshield though.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Problem Solved?

Jeff Suppan has been rather ordinary since leaving the Cardinals after the World Series year of 2006. Before tonight's game, he had 30 wins and 30 losses. But against his former team the Cardinals, he was 5-0. That puts him 5 games below .500 since leaving STL. The Cards have really struggled against their former teammate...until tonight. The Cardinals finally beat Suppan and the Brewers (who had won four straight this year against the 'Birds). Did the Cards solve two problems tonight? We'll see...

Game 4 or Game 1?

I have always thought that, in a seven game series, game four was the most important. The options going into game four are: down 3-0, facing a sweep, 2-1 with the trailing team wanting to get even or fall behind 3-1 (which is very hard to come back to win). So, to me, game four was always the most important.
Or is it...
I learned that in the NBA the team that wins game one wins the series 79% of the time. That makes things look good for the Lakers who benefited from the very athletic (but not very smart) Denver Nuggets collapse in game 1 and Orlando (who may have been one second from being up 3-0). There's a game 4 tonight in Orlando. To me, it is a must win by the Cavs or the "king" will have to wait at least another year for his coronation.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Prescription

I was feeling horrible last weekend. It started on Saturday afternoon and lasted through Monday. I was suffering from the sweep of the Cardinals by the Milwaukee Brewers. I couldn't take it anymore, so I went to the doctor and he gave me a prescription. It was only one dose for three straight days. He prescribed a Cardinals sweep of the Chicago Cubs. It worked! I feel much better.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Field Trip

I went with my daughter's fourth grade class to the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. I've never been, so I was looking forward to it. My daughter is kind of into history as well, so she liked it also.
We got to visit the state House chamber. Maggie got to sit in the seat of a state rep (coincidentally, it was our rep). The kids got to ask questions and even vote on a few issues. She really enjoyed that.
Next on the the Governor's mansion down the street (ehh...Maggie was bored by it as well).
Back to the Capitol for a scavenger hunt at the museum there (fun but rushed for time). Then a tour of the Capitol, which included the highlight for me. We visited the mural painted by Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton, "A Social History of Missouri." I thoroughly enjoyed it. Our guide was a fount of information on the mural. It was quite controversial. he was commissioned and arranged to paint whatever he wanted. In the "History" he included settlers, slavery, politics, war, Huck and Jim, Jesse James and a panel on "Frankie and Johnnie." It was very powerful and made me proud that it was in our state capitol and that Benton was a Missourian. (I've seen some of his work on WWII at the State Historical Museum on the Mizzou campus).
Then it was on to the Supreme Court building for a brief visit to one of the original courtrooms. Kind of cool, quick tour through the library and out. Funny how kids are. The guide was talking about the various levels of the courts and began by talking about a hypothetical court case involving a car accident. She then took questions and the kids kept asking questions about the stupid hypothetical! (And she kept trying to answer the questions).
Good time spending the day with my daughter. Love to do it again without being on someone else's schedule.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Some Thoughts on Simply Christian (Part 1)

Wright begins his book by discussing an "echo" of Christianity that is latently in most everyone, that is the cry for justice and fairness. He uses, over and over, a British term for evening all things out in the end. It is "Putting the World to Rights."

Putting the World to Rights

We all know there’s something called justice, but we can’t quite get to it.

You don’t have to teach children about fairness and unfairness.

There are some things in our world, on our planet, which make us say, “That’s not right!” even when there’s nobody to blame. The earthquake wasn’t caused by…It just happened. And in that happening we see a world in pain, a world out of joint, a world where things occur which we seem powerless to make right.

We all know what we ought to do (give or take a few details); but we all manage, at least some of the time, not to do it.

How does it happen that, on the one hand, we all share not just a sense that there is such a thing as justice, but a passion for it, a deep longing that things should be put to rights, a sense of "out of jointness" that goes on nagging and gnawing and sometimes screaming at us – and yet, on the other hand, after millennia of human struggle and searching and love and longing and hatred and hope and fussing and philosophizing, we still can’t seem to get much closer to it than people did in the most ancient societies we can discover.

Wright then goes on to discuss the Christian's role in working for justice:

It is important to see, and to say, that those who follow Jesus are committed, as he taught us to pray, to God’s will being done “on earth as it is in heaven.” And that means that God’s passion for justice must become ours, too.

Thus, just as there is an echo of a sense that things are not right and need to be corrected, the Christian response is to work with the power of God's Spirit, to actively be involved in bringing God's kingdom (and sense of justice) to our world here and now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Feedback Anyone?

We just concluded our semester long study of the gospel at Mizzou. I really enjoyed doing the work and working through the various passages. I often hear people discussing the gospel as if it is this simple little concept that we all assume we know. I wanted to look at the various nuances to the concept that were not often associated with the concept of the gospel.
I'd love your feedback. Let me know if you stopped by and read one or several of the posts. If you did, were they helpful or confusing. What would you add? What would you subtract? Did you use any of them to help with a Bible study or message? I would appreciate any comments you may have. If you have any interest in the series, just type "gospel" in to the box where you can search this blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Finale - God Saved Us Through the Gospel...

2 Timothy 1.8-10 - But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
I want to look at only a few of the aspects of this verse. I want to keep it simple, as I did when I presented it on campus. I tried to keep this lesson at around thirty minutes.

God saved us: The question that I had when I read this is, "Saved us from what?" Now the obvious answer is that God saved us from our sin. So, what does that look like. There seems to be a practical aspect and a more abstract "end times" aspect.
  • God has saved us from our sins, from our sinful existence. Light is shed on this verse when we consider Titus 3.3 and how once we we foolish, disobedient, deceived, we were enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures (addiction), living in malice and envy, being hated and hating others. God has saved us from that.
  • God has saved us from his wrath: Romans 5.9 reveals that as we are justified by Jesus' blood (that is, declared "not guilty" before God), we are saved from his wrath. as we continue on in this chapter (Romans 5) we see that the first sin brings condemnation (thus God's wrath).
God calls us to live a holy life. What does that mean. He wants us to live like his Son. Paul gives some practical tips to the Ephesians - in chapter 4 Paul tells them to stop doing some things (lying, being sinfully angry, stealing, speaking unwholesomely, being bitter, filled with rage, fighting, hurtful speech toward others) and tells them to replace them with some helpful actions (speaking the truth, working, sharing, encouraging others, being kind and compassionate and forgiving, see vv. 25-32).

God's grace was given in Christ - nothing new hear, many of us have memorized Eph. 2.8-9. What is grace? It is the gift of salvation that God gives to us when we turn to Christ in faith. It includes His presence and power (through the presence of the Holy Spirit).

Before the beginning of time? Interesting thought that God's grace was given before the beginning of time. Does that imply that God knew in advance that he would need to display his grace in the death of his Son? Or is just the matter of creation a manifestation of his grace? I lean toward the latter. Two weeks ago I discussed creation being created "in Christ." That implies that at one time, creation was in sync with God. And of course, we acknowledge that the first sin seriously impacted everything, including the need to send his Son to reconcile all things to himself. His grace is revealed in the incarnation. We see some thoughts of Paul on the foreknowledge and plan of God in Rom. 8.28-30 as well as Titus 1.2.

Jesus has destroyed death - This is referring to the second death which is eternal separation from God. This is shown in 1 Cor. 15.54-55, where the resurrection of Christ provide us with the template for our new, imperishable bodies at Christ's return. We also see this in Rev. 20.6 (the second death has no power over those who have experienced the first resurrection (as well as the second resurrection).

Brought life - Our relationship has brought new life (as see above). This is also displayed in Paul's thoughts on our being a "new creation" in Christ.

And immortality - of course we can appeal to John 3.16.

Therefore, the gospel here in this passage is that God saved us, called us to new life. The means of this salvation and calling is his grace which was in the beginning and was revealed in the incarnation. It results in our immortality.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Biking the Katy Trail (from Sedalia to Clinton)

I did something I've been wanting to do for several years, that is take an extended ride on the Katy Trail. I have been trying to talk people into biking the entire trail (from St. Charles to Sedalia, 225 mi.), but have no takers. Recently I was invted to take a trip on a segment of the ride and I jumped at the chance. We went from Sedalia to Clinton, camped overnight, and rode back. It really was a good time. The trip out took about 5 1/2 hours (37 miles). We stopped at every trailhead, rested, refilled water bottles and rode on. When we got to Clinton, we had dinner at Golden Corral and then biked to a campground about 6 miles out of town. We camped out over night and then we went back (after a detour to McDonald's for breakfast).
The longest ride I've been on recently has only been about 16 miles (with an extended break in the middle). I did relatively well for the most part. My thighs were on fire by the end of the first leg and I don't need to go into details about my rear (which still hurts).
Got a horrible night's sleep (sleeping bag on a picnic table, I'll take a tent next time). But got up the next day and headed back to Sedalia. In all we rode 94 miles over both days. I got a real sense of accomplishment. I also got a sense of how hard it would be to take the journey. I would like to hit the whole trail at least in segments. It's great because I live only 4 miles from the trail at McBaine. My next journey hopefully will be from my front door to Rocheport (about 13 miles one way). Then I will go from front door to Easley (about 11 miles).
I've got a friend who wants to take a 60 mile ride for his 60th birthday. I've got to find out if that's over one day or two. I'm up for both.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Changing the Subject...

In baseball, why does the pitcher of record always get the win even if he pitches horribly? Today for example. Ryan Franklin of the STL Cardinals comes in to the game in the 8th and pitches an inning and a third. Comes in with a lead, gives up two home runs and loses the lead. He is bailed out when the Cards take the lead in the 10th. And he gets a win for pitching horribly. Why can't the official scorer look over the pitching chart and see who might have pitched the most effective and given him the win? (In this case Wainwright would get the win). Can we change this? Do I need to see if Joe Posnanski is interested in this case?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Gospel of Reconciliation, part 2

We continue our study of the gospel as we look at the Paul’s presentation that the gospel is the reconciliation between God and humanity. Last week we looked at the supremacy of Christ and how he and his work make the act of reconciliation ultimately effective. Now we move on to Colossians 1.21-23 and how Paul lines out how God has made peace with us.

Once you were alienated – what does this mean to you? Literally it says, once you were “estranged”. That implies a previous relationship. I wonder if it implies back a few verses to the understanding that creation was created “in Christ” but that something happened that caused creation to need being reconciled. (We, of course, appeal to the sin of Adam and Eve, see Romans 5.11-18).

You were enemies (in your minds because of evil behavior) – have you ever felt like you were God’s enemy? Where does this come from? Have you ever felt like you engaged in “evil behavior”? See Col. 3.5,7-9, the previous verse says that the wrath of God is coming upon such behavior.

***But now*** he (God) has reconciled you. He has made peace with you. How? By Christ’s literal, physical death. In Colossians, it seems there was the beginning of the belief that Christ was not truly incarnate, but only seemed to be physically with us. Thus, he did not really die. Paul seems to be directly combating this view.

To present you – this begins to sound like sacrificial language. God is presenting us as a sacrifice, made holy and free from blemish (like the requirement of an animal to be sacrificed in the OT, see Romans 12.1 as well). But it could also be a reference to a law court and our legal standing before the judge (see Rom. 3.23-24).
Either way, God does this work of reconciliation on our behalf and we have access to this reconciliation by our faith in Christ (Eph. 2.8-9).

Sounds conditional at this point - **if** we continue in our faith…not moving from the hope we have in the gospel (this good news of reconciliation). F. F. Bruce puts it this way: If the gospel teaches the final perseverance of the saints, it teaches at the same time that the saints are those who finally persevere – in Christ.

This is the gospel – we were once alienated from God (even enemies) but God has made peace with us through the physical death of Jesus. By accessing this work of Christ by faith, we are made clean and free from accusation (not guilty) before God. That is, if we prove that we have truly accessed this faith by persevering to the end.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Study Notes on Salvation

I wrote a series on doctrinal issues for my church a few years ago. My present church has been going through the study and I thought I'd post the notes on salvation that we are presenting tonight.

The Basic Elements

The gospel in a nutshell” - Ephesians 2.8-10 - For it is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works...we are...created in Christ Jesus to do good works...


The meaning of salvation: The word basically means rescue or deliverance, especially from a threatening situation. The most profound meaning is deliverance from the lostness caused by sin.

First, salvation is a comprehensive word that sums up all the blessings resulting from God’s saving activity in Christ.

Second, it involves a new dimension of life. We are saved not only from a deadly peril but also to a new way of living. Delivered from: condemnation to eternal life (John 3.16-17); from slavery to freedom (Gal. 5.1); from guilt to forgiveness (Eph. 1.7); from fear of evil powers to victory and assurance (1 John 4.18; 2 Tim 1.7); from darkness to light (1 Pet. 2.9)

The tenses of salvation: past, present and future.

1. Past – refers to a) the provision of salvation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; and b) to the time when we, by faith, accepted salvation as our own 9compare Eph. 2.8; Titus 3.5; 2 Tim. 3.9)

2. Present – Salvation involves a process of growth. Conversion is not the end of God’s way with us, only a beginning. See 1 Cor. 1.18; 2 Cor. 2.15; 1 Pet. 2.2)

3. Future – Salvation anticipates the consummation of God’s redeeming activity. See Rom. 13.11; Heb. 9.28. This forward look assumes salvation as a past experience and a present condition but also points forward to the time when salvation is brought to its fullness.


The meaning of grace: Grace is the free, spontaneous, and unmerited love of god for sinful people. See Rom. 3.23-24; 5.15; Titus 2.11.

Grace is personal: The grace of God is nothing less than God Himself in His graciousness toward us. One man wrote, “Grace is not something God himself gives us, it is the way he gives us himself.” The gift and the giver are one. When we experience grace, we experience god as a gracious personal presence working in our lives.

Grace is free: First it is unmerited (not earned or deserved). It is always a gift and can only be accepted. See Titus 3.4-5.


Faith is the means by which we receive God’s gift of salvation. It involves an attitude of openness and receptivity to the saving presence of God in Christ. Faith is a genuine human response, but it is evoked or drawn forth by God’s gracious activity. In grace, God in Christ gives Himself to us; in faith we give ourselves to Him. This response involves both knowledge and trust.


The purpose of salvation: The purpose of salvation is a live of devoted service. Look back to Eph. 2.10. See 1 Cor. 5.10; 2 Cor. 5.17). the purpose of God’s saving work is expressed in the phrase “for good works.” God does not intend for us to bask in inward experiences, but to live lives that reflect our relationship with him. God works are not incidental to salvation. They are part of God’s eternal purpose for us.

The evidence of faith: James 2.14-26. Two related questions – What good is it if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Two related questions provide an answer: faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead (v. 17). A person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone (v. 24).

Pictures of Salvation

Salvation as Justification: Justification involves a change of status in our relation to God. The background of the term is legal. The scene is a law court in which the defendant stands before the judge. Guilt is obvious. The sentence is sure. Instead of the death penalty (Rom. 6.23), the verdict is acquittal. Sin is forgiven. See Rom. 4.3-8.

Salvation as Sanctification – this involves being set apart to God and gradually transformed into His likeness. It describes the beginning of the Christian life (set apart) and the development of that life (gradually transformed). It is both an act and a process. It is God’s work: 1 Thes. 5.23. It is completed: 1 Cor. 6.11. It is a continuing work: 2 Peter 3.18. Though it is God’s work, it is also our responsibility. Discipline and effort are required (see Phil. 2.12-13).

Salvation as Adoption – It is the act by which a child not born into a family becomes a member of the family and an heir. See Rom. 8.15, 23; 9.4; Gal. 4.5; Eph. 1.5.