Sunday, December 04, 2016

Kid’s Day at PIU

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Kids Day 2016 (6) (768x1024)Kids Day 2016 (9) (768x1024)Traditionally at PIU, the first Saturday of December is Kid’s Day. The event is actually the final exam for the Teaching Youth and Children class taught by Dr. Christel Wood. Christel has been teaching at PIU on Guam since 1995 (and several years in Chuuk before that) and the Kid’s Day goes back to when we moved on to the present campus in 1999-2000. Some of our current students had their first exposure to PIU at Kid’s Days back in the early 2000’s. This year’s theme was “God is Victory.” The games, memory verse, songs, story and project were all built around this theme. This year there were about 85 kids at the event and several PIU students and staff who are not in the class volunteered to help out too.

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The song time received enthusiastic participation, especially the theme song

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After singing, the group broke into three age groups for story time. The story subject was David and Goliath

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The group project was drawing a mural of the David and Goliath story

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The day ended with hot dogs and chips for lunch

Following Jesus by N. T. Wright #2

Following JesusThis post continues reading through the New Testament devotional book, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship, by N. T. Wright. The book is a collection of Easter sermons that encourage us to “follow Jesus” and give us a biblical picture of how to do it.  I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. I read this book before, but felt like I needed the encouragement of reading it again. I hope you benefit from it too.

The Glory of God: John

John's Gospel reveals the human Jesus as God come in the flesh, the glory of God forever in the "tent" of a human body. Wright hits on several of the main themes in John including: Jesus' body replaces the temple as the dwelling place of God; the seven "signs" pointing to Jesus' deity culminating in the cross and resurrection; the theme of new creation as Jesus rises (after the closing the old week with his death on Friday and resting in the grave on Saturday) on the first day of the new week; and the importance of following Jesus so that the glory that indwells us may be passed on to others.

John does not describe the transfiguration, as the other gospels do; in a sense, John’s whole story is about the transfiguration. He invites us to be still and know; to look again into the human face of Jesus of Nazareth, until the awesome knowledge comes over us, wave upon terrifying wave, that we are looking into the human face of the living God. John 1.14, 28

The ‘signs’ point to the new creation through the cross; the ‘lifting up’ of Jesus insists that the cross itself is the moment of glory, the moment when sovereign love meets a world in agony and grasps that agony to itself. John 12.23-32, 31

The whole amazing story of Jesus, with all its multiple levels, is given to us to be our story as we follow him. This is John’s ultimate vision of the nature of Christian discipleship...The love which he incarnated, by which we are saved, is to become the love which fills us beyond capacity and flows out to heal the world: so that the Word may become flesh once more, and dwell (not just among us, but) within us; having beheld his glory, we must then reveal his glory, glory as of the beloved children of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 21.22, 33–34

The Servant King: Mark

Mark is the Gospel of Jesus as the Servant-King. He fulfilled the Isaiah 53 prophecy to take the sin and evil of the world on to Himself and defeat it and pay the price for humans to be what God made them to be, in fellowship with Him. He calls us to follow his example and take up our cross; that is absorb the pain of others and don't run away from it, bringing Jesus' healing to them; and follow Him.

This was the destiny Jesus had glimpsed. He would draw on to himself the pain of Israel, just as Israel always seemed to draw on to herself the pain of the world. Instead of projecting evil out on to the world, instead of keeping the pain in circulation by passing it on, he would bear its full weight in himself. Mark 10.45, 38–39

Mark calls the Church to abandon its imperialistic dreams on the one hand, and its passive non-involvement on the other, and to become for the world what Jesus was for the world. Mark 10.39-44, 40–41

The Church must be prepared to stand between the warring factions, and, like a boxing referee, risk being knocked out by both simultaneously...Taking up the cross is not a merely passive operation. It comes about as the Church attempts, in the power of the Spirit, to be for the world what Jesus was for the world—announcing the kingdom, healing the wounds of the world, challenging the power structures that keep anger and pain in circulation. N. T. Wright, Mark 10.39-45, 41–42

A World Reborn: Revelation

Revelation ends God's story with the victory of Jesus over all evil, the destruction of tyranny and the removal of all its effects. It encouraged a persecuted, crying church of the 1st century and it encourages us that the tears we cry will all be wiped away in the celebration of this victory. This victory began with the resurrection of Jesus and we should enjoy and celebrate it now in the face of evil as we actively wait for Christ's return.

Easter isn’t just about you and me and our present spiritual experience, or our hope beyond the grave. Easter is the beginning of God’s new world...Easter is the victory of the creator over all evil. It is the victory of the God of love over all tyranny...It declares that, after all, God is God, and that his kingdom shall come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Easter speaks of a world reborn. Revelation, 44

Here is the Easter message in vivid picture-language. The Lion, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, has become a Lamb, a sacrificial Lamb, the Paschal Lamb; and by his death he has conquered the powers of evil; so that now the plan of God, God’s rescue operation for the whole cosmos, can be unrolled and put into dramatic operation. Revelation 5.4-6, 46

And now, at the end of the story, he is the bridegroom, the one for whom we have longed without knowing it, the one for whom we are made, the one whose love for us is like the sun, and all our earthly loves mere reflecting moons. The wrath of the Lamb, of which Revelation speaks from time to time, is the anger of love against all that hurts and damages the beloved. The love of the Lamb is the great reality that undergirds the entire vision. Revelation 21.1-5, 50

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Story Chapel at PIU with Seth

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Seth Cahpel (1) (768x1024)Seth Cahpel (9) (768x1024)The chapel was set up a little differently than normal on Tuesday as you can see above. Seth set us up as though we were in an Southeast Asian village, in which most people would not be able to read or write, and showed us how to tell a story in a memorable way that could be passed on to others. It was a blessing to have him there. He is a friend from Gold Country Baptist Church in California and shared his memories of Joyce and I sharing the at VBS when he was a kid. Anyway, he gave us a lesson in how to tell memorable stories, in this case, using the contents of the trash can as visual aids. We have enjoyed having Seth on the PIU campus the last couple weeks. To find out more about the Story click here. You can read more about his project here.

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The worship band was also set up a little differently than normal

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It was fun to see how he got the whole audience involved in hearing and telling the story of Jesus’ presentation to Simeon at the temple.

Reading Through Joel

Hosea to MicahWe now move into Joel, the 2nd book of the Minor Prophets, accompanied by The Minor Prophets vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by Harold Shank. Joel prophecies the coming Day of the Lord in comparison with a locust plague and military invasion. It will be a day of judgment on the world and outpouring of the Spirit on God’s people. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

In the book of Joel, the prophet uses God's judgment through a locust plague to warn the nation about a greater judgment that was coming - the Day of the LORD. The people repent and God removes the judgment of the plague (2.21-27). Joel says that they should keep this in their historical memory to remind themselves of what will be needed when the judgment of the Day of the LORD comes.

Joel raises the issue of the “day of the LORD” in the midst of the locust plague, suggesting that the LORD is punishing his people by the plague and that an even more devastating day may lie ahead unless they repent. 149

In chapters 1-2 the locust plague is described as coming from God with total devastation. The temple service cannot be practiced because there is no grain or wine for the sacrificial offerings. The LORD is bringing on this devastation because of their sins and the only way to get relief and restoration is to repent with a whole heart. 2.21- describe this repentance and God's reversal of the devastation into blessing. Joel hopes the nation will learn from this and apply it to future situations.

The physical devastation mandated a spiritual solution. The locust plague which affected the drunkards, temple workers, and farmers must be addressed by the entire nation. The priests lamenting in the temple must be joined by the entire nation in sacred assembly, gathering to cry out to the LORD. Joel 1.15-20, 164

The God who requires devotion, who demands repentance, who forgives whatever his people do if they seek him with all their heart, is a God who is devoted to his people. Joel 2.13-14, 173

Chapter 3 looks at the judgment of the end. It includes the lavish pouring out of the Spirit on God's people, the Day of the LORD judgment on the nations and the subsequent restoration and prosperity of Israel based on their full repentance. There is a sense in which this was fulfilled at Pentecost. However, Israel as a whole does not repent and experiences the LORD's judgment through the Romans. The final fulfillment still awaits the coming of the LORD to be present with His people, the final judgment and eternity as heaven and earth come together forever.

The day of the LORD does not depend on human initiative. Future prosperity, protection, and pardon all rely on the presence of the LORD. Whether dealing with struggles and pain or living in prosperity and pleasure, Joel reminds the reader that the LORD is powerful and concludes with the promise that this powerful being is near. Joel 3.16-21, 192

Friday, December 02, 2016

Following Jesus by N. T. Wright #1

Following JesusWith this post I will begin reading through a devotional book, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship, by N. T. Wright. The main purpose of this book is to think and pray through what it means to “follow Jesus” and encourage us to really do it.  I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. I read this book before, but felt like I needed the encouragement of reading it again. I hope you benefit from it too.

This year I am working through devotional books that closely follow the New Testament text. This book is a devotional about discipleship and what it means to follow the real Jesus of scripture. It begins by looking at the overall message of six different New Testament books and then moves to theological themes that run through the New Testament.

Following Jesus, after all, involves heart, mind, soul and strength. A church without sermons will soon have a shrivelled mind, then a wayward heart, next an unquiet soul, and finally misdirected strength. A church without sacraments will find its strength cut off, its soul undernourished, its heart prey to conflicting emotions, and its mind engaged in increasingly irrelevant intellectual games. x–xi

The Final Sacrifice: Hebrews

In Hebrews Wright sees the author offering three lines of thought. First there is a "compelling portrait" of Jesus presenting Him as Son of God and fully human who has gone before us and lead us into His Kingdom. Secondly, it presents the Old Testament as incomplete, as the first part of a book which is completed and realized through Jesus. The point is that Jesus was God's plan from the beginning. Finally, it presents Jesus as the final needed sacrifice through which all humanity is made right with God and all humans have the opportunity to be fully human again. This is a Jesus worth following.

Jesus, the Son of God, the truly human one, is leading his people to their promised land, and is available for all people and for all time as the totally sympathetic one, the priest through whom they can come to God. Following Jesus is the only way to go. 5

The argument of Hebrews runs like this: the Jewish scriptures are continually pointing beyond themselves to a further reality which they do not themselves contain. More particularly, they are pointing to a great act of salvation, of dealing with sin, which they do not themselves offer. This great act has now been accomplished in Jesus; and we must therefore follow this Jesus. 7

The sacrifice of Jesus is the moment when the human race, in the person of a single man, offers itself fully to the creator. The result is that now at last true human life is possible. Now at last consciences can be washed clean. Hebrews 9, 9

The Battle Won: Colossians

Wright sees the main theme of Colossians as thanksgiving for Jesus' victory over the "powers" that control the lives of people and the world systems. God desired to rule the world though humanity, but through sin, that authority was given over to the (personal) forces of evil and they crush those who would try live rightly. Jesus' victory on the cross frees us from these powers to be fully human and to live life in Jesus' victory. Thus, we the church, must live by the cross and extend Christ's victory through the church and through the world.

Events in the socio-political world carry an interior meaning, and often a threatening or disturbing one; the events of Jesus of Nazareth, his life, his death and his resurrection, carry an interior meaning, a powerful and liberating one. He is the image of the invisible God. And this God made the world, loves the world, is in the business of rescuing the world, and calls us to follow his Son as rescued rescuers. Colossians 1.15-20, 13–14

Here is the great irony that stands at the heart of Colossians. This is the reason why the Church has to learn gratitude. The cross was not the defeat of Christ at the hands of the powers; it was the defeat of the powers at the hands—yes, the bleeding hands—of Christ. Colossians 2.13-15, 15

We are called to thanksgiving, where we stand at last in the truly human relationship to the creator and the world; and we are called to thanksliving, where we behave as the free subjects of the true king, and owe the powers nothing at all. There is now only one Power we are to follow, and that Power has a human face, a face once crowned with thorns. Colossians, 1.3, 1.13-14, 3.17, 4.21, 17

The Kingdom of the Son of Man: Matthew

Wright sees the Gospel of Matthew as a "coronation anthem" in which Jesus fulfills the role of Israel by functioning as Jesus, its Savior from sin, exile and death; as Immanuel, the one who dwells with His people; as The Son of Man, who defeats the spiritual, physical, political, cultural "powers" of evil through His death on the cross and resurrection. Jesus is God intervening in human history, the most important event ever to happen. Now Jesus as King calls His people to follow his example of sacrificial living, as in the Sermon on the Mount, and take the message of who He is and what He has done to all the earth.

Matthew... brings before us, in his great Coronation Anthem, one who will save his people from their sins; and one who, precisely in doing so, will share the very throne of God; one who is ‘God with us’, God representing us, God alongside us, God with us always, even to the end of the age. 22

If the Son of Man is the King of the world, we who worship him are to follow him, and are therefore sent into the world with a great commission. We are to make disciples, learners, followers; we are to baptize them, and teach them to observe all that Jesus commanded. There is no corner of the created universe over which Jesus does not claim rightful sovereignty. We are to be his agents, his ambassadors, in bringing the word of his kingdom to all his subjects. 25

In the kingdom of the Son of Man, the power that counts is the power of love. It is the rule of Emmanuel, God-with-us. And if we celebrate that fact, as we do supremely in the Eucharist, let us heed the call that goes with it: that we should go into the world to follow this Emmanuel, to work and pray so that the healing celebration of the Coronation Anthem may woo this weary old world back to the God who made it and who loves it still. 26

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Last Tuesday Chapel in November

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Nov 28 Chapel (3)This last Tuesday was my opportunity to preach in chapel. I focused on two biblical themes from two different scriptural passages. First we talked about covenant from Ephesians 2.4-6 and focused on how Jesus did everything we needed to be in relationship with Him, making us alive for relationship and service at the cross and resurrection. Our job is respond to the relationship with loyal love. The relationship depends on Christ alone. The experience of relationship happens as we respond to what Christ has done with love, faith, and gratitude. The second theme was “wisdom” from Proverbs 25.2. God has blessed us with this beautiful world that He created. He has hidden wonderful things in it that He expects us to find through diligent “digging as for gold.” We grow in wisdom as we grow in knowledge of God and His creation and learn to live within the present flawed creation as His kingdom people, and ultimately, in His perfect creation on a renewed earth. I encouraged the students that they should study the creation well and be excellent teachers, scientists, musicians, artists, mechanics etc. as kingdom service to God. Our band pictured here is a good example of this kind of excellence!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Day Feast

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Yesterday we enjoyed our annual PIU Thanksgiving Day celebration feast. The PIU family came together to produce a lot more food than we could eat in one sitting, but we did make a significant dent in the bounty  on the table. We also had a good time to share with one another, sing, enact a reading about the 1st Thanksgiving, and I shared a short devotional on 4 ways that we show that we are thankful – talk about grace, celebrate grace, respond to grace with committed lives and share the gifts God has given us with others.

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The group  overflowed our classroom/chapel area as we sang and shared

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Then we lined up for food. I think I few people went back into the line multiple times

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The students made a “thank you” presentation to the faculty and staff

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And we got to spend some quality time with many of our friends