Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day of Prayer Invitation

SAMSUNG            I would like to invite the Guam (and worldwide) community to take part in all or part of the PIU Day of Prayer activities which will extend from Noon Thursday to Noon Friday, October 2nd and 3rd. Even if you cannot join us we would invite you to fast and pray along with us for God’s kingdom work in the islands, the PIU mission, students, staff and faculty, the island church communities and the peoples of the islands. The invitation and schedule for the Day of Prayer activities is below…

The President's office would like to invite you to join us for the President's Day of Prayer ​ this week​! Activities are listed below. You may also join the President in a 24 fast from Noon, Thursday, Oct. 2 to Noon, Friday, Oct. 3. You may fast from anything you feel led to. The President will fast from food. We will take communion together in chapel on Friday to end the fast.

Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

12:15-12:45pm - Classroom 1 - Day of Prayer kickoff

9:30-10:00pm - Classroom 1 - President shares with Students 

Friday, Oct. 3, 2014

7:00-8:00am - Pavilion - Morning Prayer hosted by the President

11:00am-12:00pm - Classroom 1 - Chapel and Communion

Weekend in Chuuk

SAMSUNG            I spent this past weekend in Chuuk. My purpose was to meet with church and education leaders there to get our teaching facilities and distance education programs up and running again. I enjoyed sitting with Yosta Lodge and Noah Ruben from Faithwalk Christian College and President of the Evangelical Church of Chuuk, Karsom Enlet. The bottom line is that our plans to bring classes back to Tol and Weno is moving forward. SAMSUNG            Dr. Sam Mabini will be in Chuuk next week (October 4-7) and will be offering the PIU entrance exam on the FCC campus and in Weno (probably at Chuuk High School). PIU applications and more information are available from Cathy Samuel at Berea Christian School or by emailing me or Sam. Former PIBC students who would like to complete degrees, college graduates interested seminary courses or anyone interested in PIU programs should contact Cathy now or see Sam when she is there at the Truk Stop this weekend.

SAMSUNG            When I arrived in Chuuk the weather was beautiful and pleasant as you can see from the pictures above taken from the window of the plane as we were preparing to land. But the weather pretty quickly got dark and nasty. SAMSUNG            Basically, for the next three days I did not get out of the hotel because of the rain and wind. I have never seen the waves come up so high in the lagoon as on this trip. (I am sure they have but I have not seen it.) I had hoped to go out to Tol to FCC on the trip but we were not able to get any boats across the lagoon during the weekend.

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It was a rough day on the lagoon on Sunday afternoon

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Here are a couple pictures taken from the hotel toward the main road in Weno. As you can see the road is not repaired yet on this portion.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Yap #2–Meeting with Alumni

SAMSUNGI just got back from Chuuk this morning and will talk about that in a later post, but I wanted to make one more post about my time in Yap earlier this week. I had a chance to meet with several of our PIU alumni and was very encouraged to hear what they are doing in their jobs and ministries. I met with a group of the alumni on Tuesday night (pictured on the left) and had a good chance to update them on what has been happening at PIU. Several of them are interested in the Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies that began this semester. The difficulty for all of them is financing the degree since there is no government funding for it. I am working on raising scholarship money for the students that want to be in the program. Two of the PIU alumni in the picture are currently pastoring in Yap, Mac Alfonso in the blue shirt in the front row and Jonathan Sam right behind him and next to me. Both of them would like to continue their education with us at our seminary. In addition PIU alumni are teachers (Yap High School and the YEC kindergarten), a hospital administrator, electrical worker, United Airlines worker and all of them are involved in some kind of ministry leadership in the church.

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Tim Ruda leads music in the evening English service (left). Jonathan Sam preached the Sunday morning message at the Yap Evangelical Church in Colonia

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On the left is one of my favorite views in Yap: looking out over the lagoon from the outdoor dining area at the ESA Hotel. On the right is a picture of my roommate in the Yap church guest apartment

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yap #1–Views of Yap

SAMSUNG            I returned yesterday from a trip to Yap. The purpose of my trip was to speak with Yap church leaders about our teaching facility there. We have not had any students in the facility the last couple semesters and we needed to talk about what they wanted to do. I was encouraged at the meeting by the church leaders’ enthusiasm for PIU and its programs. (We have 4 students from Yap on campus right now). The key issue for the TF will be having a teacher who can do “face to face” classes on Yap. SAMSUNG            (We find this to be true in our experience for all of the islands of Micronesia – DE classes work best when we have someone on the ground there developing relationship with the students) Thus, it is our goal to find teachers that we can place in Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Palau to teach classes, facilitate other teachers’ classes and build discipleship relationships with students. I will be on the US Mainland looking to recruit teachers like that in October. In the meantime enjoy some views of Yap. On the left is the view from the guest apartment. On the right is the view from the porch of the church in Colonia.

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On the left is the inside of the church in Colonia. On the right is the youth group singing for the Sunday evening English service in the youth center. I had an opportunity to talk about PIU in the morning Yapese service and then preach in the English service on Sunday evening.

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The hospitality was great. On the left grilled fish for lunch at the ESA Restaurant where I was able to talk with the mother of one of our students. On the right, lunch with Falrog, one of the matriarchs of the church in Yap. We had an interesting conversation about the history of the church there and she gave me some good advice about doing ministry in Yap.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Owen September Prayer Letter

Greetings from Rainy, Shaky Guam,

10626578_863609113658734_1315602884287329045_nWe are only 3 weeks into our semester and things are really rocking and rolling… literally. This past week we had a 6.7 earthquake (originally rated at 7.1) that lasted for 42 seconds. Amazingly, there was very little damage to PIU, our house, or the island. Here is an article from our local newspaper about why big earthquakes cause so little damage here.  Pictured to the right is Joyce with students and staff riding out the earthquake in front of the administration building. It was quite a ride.

We are just beginning to settle into our routines and get back into the rhythm of the semester. This semester I am teaching Exegesis in Hebrews for the 4th year students. This is one of the capstone classes for the Bachelor in Biblical Studies program and each student will be required to do a major exegetical project and write a sermon on the passage. I am also teaching the Introduction to the Hebrew Language course for the seminary. This is in addition to my administrative responsibilities. Joyce is teaching the Remedial Reading course and supervising in the WeServe program that allows the students to do an in-house work study program to help make their tuition more affordable (see prayer request about that below). We are enjoying getting to know the new students and deepening relationships with the returning students. We are sad that some students were not able to return, most because of financial issues and we are praying that they will be able to return in January.

Here are some items that you can offer thanks and praise to God for and some issues for which we would appreciate your continued prayers. Your prayers and support are an indispensable part of our effective ministry with our students and in our communities.

Thank God for…

1. We have been able to find and hire a new Liberal Studies Program Chair and Director of Libraries! When we started the semester these positions were still open. Our accreditor requires that these be filled with qualified people to remain in compliance. Jamie Mason joined PIU as our Liberal Studies Chair during the first week of the semester. Jamie brings a wealth of administrative experience and local island connections from his many years of service at Guam Community College as well as several other schools. He is already making a major contribution as he helps organize our accreditation affirmation effort. Last week we hired Paul Drake as our new librarian. I was doubting that we would be able to find a librarian with the proper MILS degree in time for our mid-term accreditation visit, but God not only supplied a qualified librarian, he supplied one who also has a seminary degree – the perfect combination for our school. As Dr. Mabini, PIU Provost said, “What a difference having a Library Director!!! :D”

2. Joyce is doing well with her health. She had a bout with bronchitis from this flu that has been going around through our staff and students (please pray –many are suffering from this in the dorm) but she got to the doctor quickly and it did not morph into pneumonia this time. She is now back into her busy schedule. (She is still teaching English at the Japanese School of Guam too)

3. PIU is in the middle of our annual audit. It is critical that we finished the 2013-14 year in the black. We just heard this week that the auditor’s preliminary numbers place us substantially in the black!

Please pray for…10514258_10154614154335427_2265741394230938688_o

1. Our students. Please pray that they will make the adjustment to college work and lifestyle. For many of them it is the first time away from home or away from their home islands. Many come struggling with issues that range from  homesickness, family issues to abuse and addictions. Our student life team puts in a great deal of time each week to mentor and help the students and train our student leadership (student council and resident assistants) to help one another. Several of our students will also make first time commitments to Christ while at PIU. Pray that God will be working in the lives of our students.

2. Student Finances: Almost all of our students struggle with the ability to pay for education. It is our goal that no student be denied a Christian education because of finances. Seeing God supply for their needs is one of most important learning experiences our students have while at PIU. If you would like to be part of God’s answer to their prayer for their needs you can donate at the PIU web page or send a check to the address in the signature below.

3. Accreditation Mid-Term Visit. We will have our visit from TRACS in late January. Right now we are preparing our accreditation report which we plan to deliver to our TRACS representative at the end of October. This means that our whole faculty and staff, in addition to regular duties, are busy documenting everything we do to prepare this report. The copy machine also is being forced to work overtime. Please pray that we will be able to present a complete and accurate report to TRACS and that we will be able to bring everything into accreditation compliance before the TRACS rep comes to Guam in January. Also pray for our administration, faculty and staff as we put in the extra work to make this happen.

4. Grants: We have a couple grant applications that we are waiting to hear a response to. Two are from private foundations that provide scholarship money for our students. This is critical as most of our students, even though PIU keeps costs as low as we can, need about $1000 per semester to meet living costs in the dormitory. We are also waiting on a grant application from the US Department of Education that would provide a substantial sum to improve our technology resources, develop our counseling program and fund the re-establishment and building up of our teaching facilities in Palau, Yap, Chuuk and Pohnpei. The announcement date on this grant is September 30th.

5. Teaching Facilities: I will be on the island of Yap this week to talk with the church leaders and PIU alumni about the TF there and to recruit new students. Next week I will head to Chuuk to meet with church leaders there. We several opportunities in Chuuk to complete degrees for elementary and secondary school teachers in both the public and Christian schools. We also have an agreement with a local Christian college to offer our courses for them in our teaching facility on Tol. We need to find teachers and resources to get these moving. In Palau, the church is working with us to bring more students into the TF there and to develop a cohort of 10 church leaders to go through our Bible certificate program. We are also trying to begin a distance education facility in Pohnpei. There are so many people who need the programs we are offering but so many obstacles to getting it to them. Please pray because we do serve a God who specializes in overcoming obstacles.

6. Upcoming Annual Fall Trip: I will be heading to the mainland October 6-24 for my Fall conference, recruiting, fund raising trip. This year I will be in the Midwest and Southeast. Please pray that God will speak to the hearts of the people I will meet and prepare them for how they should partner with us at PIU. Here is my October schedule…

· 6th to 9th: Dallas Texas for a conference, meeting with foundation, teacher recruiting

· 9th to 13th: Manhattan Kansas for a Palauan Church conference. I will be speaking on the importance of developing a “whole Bible context” for Bible study.

· 14th to 20th: Carolinas for recruiting at two schools, fund raising,

· 21st to  24th: Orlando Florida for the TRACS conference

· 25th Back to Guam to arrive on the 26th.

Thank you so much for your partnership with Joyce and me in our ministry at PIU. We could not do it without the “whole body” working together. We appreciate your prayers very much and would enjoy your fellowship with us, even if it is from long distance.

Blessings

Dave and Joyce

Pacific Islands University, 172 Kinney’s Drive, Mangilao, Guam 96913

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reading Through Matthew (1-13) #1

This school year I am reading through the commentary series The Bible Speaks Today, edited John Stott. I post quotes from my morning readings (MWF – I do the OT on TTS) on Facebook and will periodically post to this blog. The post will include some of my thoughts on the New Testament book and the best quotes from the commentary. The commentary series starts with The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven, by Michael Green. I have enjoyed the commentary so far. Green focuses his commentary on the “big picture” message of the book as he discusses it section by section. I would recommend it as devotional commentary and as a good resource for preaching and teaching preparation.

I would see the overall message of the Gospel of Matthew to be: Jesus is truly the king of the Jews and promised salvation of the Gentiles predicted in the prophets to bring the kingdom of god, and, despite the rejection of his own people Israel, demands a response of full commitment to him now in trust that he will bring in the full expression of his kingdom with judgment and blessing in the future.

As is my custom, quotes from the commentary, (here all are from Michael Green), are in blue with my comments in the standard color.

Matthew goes out of his way to show that the barriers between men and women are broken down: women share in the official genealogy of the Messiah alongside men. The barriers between Gentiles and Jews are broken down too: Ruth plays her part in the coming of one who was to be not only Messiah of Israel but Saviour of the whole world. And the juxtaposition of sinful women like Bathsheba and Tamar with Mary, the gentle mother of Jesus, shows that the barriers between good people and bad people have also come crashing down. Michael Green, 59.

The Father loves us enough to send his Son, the one who shares both God’s nature and ours. He comes to rescue his people from their sins, enemies far more deadly than Rome. If God loves like that, it is good news, gospel, indeed. Matthew 1, 64.

God is the God of surprises. Those who think they can predict his actions need to think again. How sad that in many churches, this element of surprise is almost entirely absent, and boring predictability governs all that happens! Matthew 2.1-12, 66.

The whole unsavoury story of Herod’s activity in all this is an awesome reminder of how deeply opposition to Jesus can be rooted in the hearts of people who are not prepared to allow his gentle rule to control them. If we are determined to get our own way at all costs, we will go to any lengths to eliminate all trace of Jesus and his claims on our lives. Matthew 2.13-23, 72.

Opposition is inevitable, but it will never, in the providence of God, be allowed to quench God’s mission...What an encouragement that would have been to Matthew’s readers! The church, so frail, so exposed, would not be allowed to sink, however threatening the storms and waves that broke over it. Matthew, 74.

Religious observance and religious pedigree are not enough. The Pharisees and Sadducees had that and to spare. Orthodoxy is not enough. To be Abraham’s seed is not enough. If there is no heartfelt repentance, there will be no spiritual life for you in the kingdom of the Messiah. Matthew 3.1-12, 78.

And after a high spiritual experience, such as the baptism undoubtedly was for Jesus, temptation frequently comes, and properly comes. It sorts out the emotional ‘high’ from the reality of spiritual conquest and growth. We are not meant to live on spiritual highs. We are meant to live on the bread that comes from God alone, even if it is bread in the desert. Matthew 4.1-11, 82.

It is not uncharacteristic of God to go for the least likely place, where the orthodox would never expect to find him, among the greatest masses of unreached humanity. Matthew 4.15, 85.

Wherever the church is truly carrying out the work of the kingdom, those three strands—challenging preaching, clear teaching and healing (of physical disease, inner hurts and grip by dark forces)—will be seen. Matthew 4.12-25, 86–87.

Jesus birth, early life and ministry identify him as the coming king promised by the prophets who will rule, fulfill Israel’s purpose and bring salvation  His birth and childhood events show that he is the prophesied and rightful king of Israel and fulfillment of God’s promise to be with His people. His baptism, temptations and beginning ministry show that he is the promised king of Israel who will accomplish what Israel failed to do and will inaugurate the kingdom of God.

But the main point about the mountain here is the parallel to Mount Sinai. Moses went up Mount Sinai to get the law from God to give to the people of Israel. And now Moses’ great successor ascends a mountain to receive from his Father and transmit to his disciples the law of the kingdom. We have a new law for a new people given on a new mountain by a new Moses. Matthew 5-7, 89.

The citizens of the kingdom are called to put God first in their motives and their actions, in their business and their language, in their thought life and their priorities. All life comes under his royal control. Matthew 5.1-12, 89.

We are not promised that we shall be able to Christianize the legislation and values of the world, but we are challenged to be an irritant, marching to a different drum and calling on society to heed God’s standards. Matthew 5.13-16, 92.

Jesus looks for the inner disposition as well as the outer action. The law is not the limit of obedience; it is to be seen rather as the springboard for a life of devotion to Jesus and his Father...Greatness in God’s kingdom is measured by wholehearted obedience. Matthew 5.17-48, 92.

Sincere obedience to God’s word is the key to an authentic devotional life. Not playing to the gallery, but humbly living in the light of the Father’s will. Such is the attitude he can reward. Matthew 6.1-18, 98.

Not only is it important to have your treasure in the right place; it is also vital to approach life with a generous, warm appraisal of other people. There are few things so distorting as an ungenerous, mean and critical spirit. Matthew 6.19-34, 103.

That generous attitude of going out of your way to encourage the depressed, to forgive those who have wronged you, and to help the disadvantaged requires positive action, often self-sacrificial action. You don’t do that to fulfil some law. You do it only if the love of the kingdom burns in your heart.  Matthew 7.1-12, 107.

Jesus Christ came to destroy religion...What Jesus offers is totally different. It begins not from our reaching up, but from God’s reaching down. It is not a religion at all, but a revelation and a rescue. Matthew 7.13-27, 110.

True Kingdom righteousness is focused on Jesus and is seen in changed attitudes which show up in godly actions, words, and relationships. True acts of worship recognize God as He is and flow from a committed relationship that is fully dependent on Him. True discernment judges self and others by God’s standards and recognizes that the ultimate standard of judgment is fidelity to Jesus’ words as shown by active response.

The Jews had to learn the lesson, which their ancestors knew and Gentiles were beginning to discover, along with the centurion in the days of Jesus, that faith is the key to entry into the messianic banquet, and faith is the key to experiencing the power of Jesus.  Matthew 8.10, 116.

Matthew sees him here coming from the mountain of revelation (chs. 5–7) and entering into the valley of the shadow, where sickness and demonic forces held sway. And he was willing to carry the burden of the pain, ostracism and defilement of broken humankind, just as he would later bear its sin. Matthew 8.1-17, 117.

In these three stories, then, Jesus is laying claim to divine authority. The claim is explicit. It is superbly documented. It challenges the hearers to the roots of their being...Nothing less than complete and immediate obedience to such a call and allegiance to such a person will suffice. Matthew 8.23-9.8, 123.

Unlike some church people in many parts of the world, Jesus was totally relaxed in the presence of ‘sinners’ and outsiders of every kind. They loved to be with him... Here we see among the Pharisees a tendency, which will reappear more strongly as the story unfolds, to judge Jesus rather than revel in the mercy he offers, and to pride themselves on their own fancied goodness instead of recognizing his...There is no room for the Pharisee spirit in the kingdom. The word means ‘separated ones’, proud that they stand out from the crowd and are good people. Such an attitude stinks in God’s nostrils. The kingdom is a one-class society—for sinners only. Matthew 9.9-13, 124.

We see in this mission charge some useful criteria for determining authentic Christian workers. How about their attitude to money, comfort and prosperity (9)? How about their peace in the midst of undeserved suffering (17–19)? How about their endurance (22)? How about their likeness to Jesus (24)? How about their cutting edge (34)? Have they the courage to face opposition? Matthew 10, 133.

Disciples are called to see, to care, to pray, to receive, and to go. Those five words more or less summarize the mission charge. Matthew 10.6-7, 136.

Jesus’ miracles validate his divine origin and authority and his qualifications to be the king who demands full commitment and sacrifice. The call to follow him shows he has the authority to present the kingdom to the nation and delegate kingdom offices to his followers and empower them to do his kingdom work

When you are in the kingdom, committed with single-minded devotion to the King, you are even closer to him than John was. That seems to be the logic of Jesus’ words. The kingdom is the thing. Don’t miss the kingdom! Matthew 11.1-24, 138.

There is a deeper rest, which cannot be given but can only be found: the rest of taking his yoke upon us and entering into partnership with him. He wants not only to welcome back the sinner, but to train the disciple. Matthew 11.25-30, 143.

His yoke is gentle, but not in the sense that it is less demanding than Judaism. In some ways it is more demanding. But it is the yoke of love, not of duty. It is the response of the liberated, not the duty of the obligated. And that makes all the difference. Matthew 11.25-30, 143.

Human need took precedence over ritual custom...worship of God took precedence over the regulations about the day... God looks for the loving allegiance of the heart rather than the ritualistic precision of the cultus...He puts compassion above ritual. Matthew 12.1-8, 146.

For those who sin against the light, against the Holy Spirit, deliberately ascribe to evil what they know comes from God. And it is unforgivable not because God will not forgive, but because those who practice such deliberate self-deception cannot bring themselves to the requisite repentance. Matthew 12.38-42, 148.

Religious practices and religious pedigree are utterly inadequate to bring anybody into the kingdom. There needs to be an acknowledgment of who Jesus is, and a determined decision to follow him. That brings a person into the most intimate relationship with Christ, closer than physical mother or brother. Matthew 12.46-50, 151.

Despite rejection which will be severely judged, Jesus continues to offer kingdom rest to the faithful in the present age. He will be vindicated by the resurrection and will judge those who reject him, but bring the faithful into God’s family. Jesus’ low-key healing ministry to identifies him as the humble servant-Messiah predicted in Isaiah and thus the choice made about following Jesus is decisive for one’s eternal destiny.The resurrection would be the final determining sign of who Jesus is and, because it was rejected, the nation would be in an unrecoverable position. In this age Jesus identifies his true family as those who hear and obey the Father.

The third reason Jesus taught in parables was that they were a spur towards decision. The kingdom cannot be understood from outside...as Professor C. F. D. Moule once put it to me, ‘You can’t teach by spoon-feeding. You must let people puzzle it out for themselves. Matthew 13, 154.

Leaven had a bad press in Judaism. All leaven had to be scrupulously removed from the house before Passover. So the hearers would be surprised to find Jesus using leaven as an image of the kingdom...But God is like that. He takes distasteful characters and transforms them, and then transforms society through them. Matthew 13.33, 158–159.

The leaders in Matthew’s church were like scribes who drew from the storeroom of their Christian and pre-Christian knowledge new treasures and old (52). Christ does not come to erase all that we gained in life before we met him. He comes to enrich it...A rabbi is one who ‘will seek out the hidden meanings of proverbs and be at home with the obscurities of parables’. So should Matthew’s leaders be, as they seek to hold together the old torah and the new. But such teachers are no independent originators of truth. They remain disciples, learners to the end. Matthew 13.47-58, 161.

The hint of Gentile expansion at the end of the first half of the book is made explicit with the Great Commission to the Gentile mission at the end of the second half. The proximate rejection of Jesus in his patris leads forward to his ultimate recognition universally throughout the world. Matthew 13.53-58 162.

The parables show that the kingdom has begun with the words of Jesus and God demands a faithful response to him now that will be rewarded in the eschatological judgment and full establishment of God’s rule on all the earth. The kingdom will start small and insignificantly but will become larger and influential as it grows side by side with the kingdom of the enemy until Jesus’ final victory.

Tuesday Chapel at PIU

SAMSUNG            SAMSUNG            Last Tuesday we enjoyed having Pastor Ricke Harris as our chapel speaker. He kept all of us laughing and thinking, throughout the message, with his many stories from a life spent in church and missions work – and his very corny jokes (“the only culture I have is in my yogurt”). He shared from the story of Elijah being fed by the ravens during the famine from 1 Kings. His point was that sometimes God “dries up” the flow of blessing in your life, takes you through tough times and then opens up blessing in a new and unexpected way. He encouraged the students to persevere to the end (graduation) so they would have the experience of God’s miraculous provision in their lives along with the training they receive at PIU. Ricke has been a blessing to PIU in many ways and we appreciate his sharing with us.

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Mike led us in some hymn singing with his guitar. I still remember almost all the words of those old songs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

PIU Student Life Newsletter

Yesterday at staff meeting we received the first copy of the September 2014 Low Tide – The Low Down on Student Life. The Low Tide is a publication of the PIU Student Life team. This month’s issue was the “Girls Edition.” The Student Life team consists of Sarah Brubaker, Daisy Murdock and Rob Puckett. You can get more info on them and see a picture here. They work with the students on almost a 24-7 basis dealing with student issues, leading discipleship, driving, planning and executing student activities, training student leaders, and loving/holding accountable the students. I know they would appreciate your prayers. I took pictures of the 2 page newsletter with my phone…. Click on the picture below for a full size view

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Faculty Training at PIU

IMG_9703Our first Fall semester faculty training was held Saturday in the main classroom at PIU. Because we did it on Saturday all of our adjunct faculty were able to join us. I don’t get to see them as often as I like so it was a real blessing to get to interact with them. PIU provost Dr. Mabini planned and led the training which focused on writing student learning IMG_9710outcomes and creating rubrics that make student learning more objective and measurable. I found the materials to be very helpful and this seemed to be the consensus of everyone who was there. We also had a good time of discussion about classroom issues. The strength of PIU is our excellent and well-qualified faculty who see their work as ministry to the students. I enjoy being part of that.

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Everyone was engaged and involved.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reading Through Malachi

Malachi ChartThe prophecy of Malachi provides the conclusion to the Old Testament canon and Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets until John the Baptist. His name means “My Messenger” and he wrote to encourage the remnant that had returned from Babylon to repent from their spiritual indifference and compromise. This message was urgent because another, greater “messenger of the covenant” was coming to bring YHWH’s judgment and blessing. 

As E. Ray Clendenen writes in the New American Commentary, Malachi, 231 (All quotes below in blue are from Clendenen)

Malachi’s prophecy indicts the religious leadership of the day and chides God’s people for their spiritual apathy and their skepticism and cynicism concerning God’s plan for their future. It also calls the people to correct their wrong attitudes of worship by trusting God with genuine faith as living Lord. Furthermore, it warns the people of their immoral behavior toward one another and calls for their repentance lest they be terrorized at the coming of the Lord.

The priests were not treating the temple and their ministries with respect. The people were not bringing their tithes and offerings to God and were again involved in intermarriage with pagan women. Politically, the nation was still under Persian rule and the people wondered if God would ever fulfill His covenant of a glorious future for Israel. So Malachi reminded the people that…

One’s health and wholeness as a child of God is determined first by one’s attitude toward and relationship with God, thus the theological angle; second by one’s attitude toward and relationship with others, thus the social angle; and finally by one’s attitude toward and use of one’s possessions, the economic angle. Clendenen, 237.

Our God calls his people to genuine worship, to fidelity both to himself and to one another, and to expectant faith in what he is doing and says he will do in this world and for his people. Clendenen, 238.

So Malachi calls all of God’s people through the ages to repent NOW from your spiritual apathy and show your commitment to God with your words and actions because the Messiah is coming soon to judge and bless. The message is URGENT because God’s soon arrival means judgment is coming soon.

Authentic worship can be expressed in formal ritual acts as well as in spontaneous acts, and either can be sham or hypocrisy. Israel’s ritual properly performed was for expressing their faith, learning and proclaiming the nature of their holy God, and receiving atonement. It was never intended to replace obedience or to hide a disregard for God’s instructions. Malachi 1.10, 273.

Authentic worship involves LOVE: (1:2-5) God reaches out to you in love so you should respond to His love. It also should reflect HONOR (1:6-2:9) as we give God the respect He deserves. We need to worship and serve God in a way fitting to His character and to the Kingdom privileges He gives us.

Realizing that God brought them into existence as a united whole in a covenant relationship to himself should have produced faithfulness not only to him, but also to one another. Their unity should have motivated mutual understanding, caring, and support. Malachi 2.10, 325.

Not only does the Lord appear here in his role of Defender of the defenseless and Helper of the helpless, invisible but powerful witness of every injustice, but he also watches over covenants made before him and judges those who break vows.  Malachi 2.14, 349.

The one who divorces his wife out of hate or greedy desire, then, according to the prophet joins a devilish fraternity. The very things he is responsible as her husband to pursue on her behalf—blessings, good, salvation, praise, right, peace, and justice—he is wickedly and unscrupulously robbing from her. Malachi 2.15-16, 369.

Our lives should be full of hope and faithfulness to covenant, including covenants we make with each other. We can trust God for the future. His character guarantees His promises. (2:17-3:6)

We should understand God’s material blessings as intended to glorify him and to enrich not individuals but the entirety of God’s people. Malachi 3.8, 415.

Our obedient use of money is a good measure of our commitment. (3:7-12)

Malachi was calling Judah to a lifestyle guided at all times not by human wisdom, ambition, or societal expectations but by the thoughtful application of God’s Word.  Haggai, Malachi 4.4, 459.

God wants heartfelt worship that leads to committed service. (3:13-18). We can encourage one another that God will never forget faithful sacrificial service. Christians should act in the now because we are motivated by the future. It is urgent because God’s messenger has come and is returning. (4.1-6)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Friday Chapel at PIU

SAMSUNG            At PIU we are blessed at the beginning of every semester as our friend Dr. M. James Sawyer returns to teach in our Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary. This semester Jim is teaching Theology 1 and part of the Theological Research Methods class. He has also shared in the student Focus group on Wednesday night and in chapel last Friday. Yes, we keep him pretty busy. He still has had some time for a few scuba diving adventures in Guam’s warm ocean SAMSUNGwaters. Friday Jim spoke in chapel about the need to understand that God ALWAYS looks at us with love and that the “stairway to heaven,” that we try to climb through religious “works” has already been climbed by Jesus for us. One of the results of the “fall” is a wrong view of God, motivated by conscience, that sees God as angry and vengeful, instead of the God who became one of us to grant us access to God. There is no need for “fig leaves” and “hiding.” We can trust that God loves us. The students’ band provided an excellent time of musical worship.

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The worship band included a very precocious baby in their lineup as they practiced

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reading Through Zechariah

Zechariah is the second of the two post-exilic prophets who encouraged the returned exiles to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. His name means “God Remembers,” and his Zechariah chartpurpose was to remind the people of God’s past faithfulness, present purpose, and future plan and to bring about spiritual revival through humility and commitment. He wanted to motivate the people to build the temple because the future will make it worthwhile. He knew that the people needed to repent and obey now because God is working out His purpose in the present and in the future Messiah is coming to complete God’s plan to rule over and save His people. Israel needed to learn from the past and trust God for the future.

Quotes are from the New American Commentary, Zechariah by George Klein,,,

The second vision ends much as the first vision did. In both, Judah faces overwhelming opposition from all quarters. Nonetheless, God’s people should receive encouragement from the knowledge that the Lord himself protects them and judges the unrighteous nations who spurn the Lord and persecute his people. Zechariah 1.20-21, 110.

Beyond God’s intention to include the nations in his blessings, Israel had a responsibility to fulfill a “missionary mandate.” Although the word “missionary” is anachronistic in an Old Testament context, many passages in the first Testament indicate the responsibility that God’s people had to other peoples to teach them God’s word. Zechariah 2.11, 126.

Both the fourth and the fifth visions stress the importance of true faith in the lives of Judah’s spiritual and political leaders in order for the Lord’s kingdom to advance.  Zechariah 3.1-10, 132.

One of the primary theological emphases for Zech 4 resides in the declaration, “not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (4:6). This grand biblical truth assures believers that God provides for his people supernaturally. Deliverance comes then from God, not through human ingenuity. Wolters explains that “the whole mountain of seemingly insuperable problems which [the church] faces today, from persecution to consumerism, from modernism to postmodernism, will ultimately become a plain before the Davidic king.” Zechariah 4.13-14, 168.

In one important contrast, the golden vessels in the fifth vision overflow with oil, while the measuring basket in 5:5–11 stands empty, except for the “wickedness” it contains. The golden lampstand portrays the abundance that living in accord with the Lord’s covenant provides, standing in stark contrast to the empty measuring basket that results from sinning against God. Zechariah 5, 174.

Chap. 6 stresses the peace the world will experience because the Lord has exerted the dominion he enjoyed all along. The Lord and his servants can finally rest because the creation now experiences the peace for which God originally created it. Ever since the fall of man, creation has groaned and longed for its restoration (Rom 8:22). The eighth vision draws to a close with a sense of finality: “God’s in his Heaven—All’s right with the world”—not just in word alone, but in reality.  Zechariah 6.1-8, 193.

Consequently, no contemporary of Zechariah could fully satisfy the sweeping prophecies about the Branch’s ministry. On the one hand, the phrase in context does speak of the ministry of Zerubbabel and Joshua... in light of the broader messianic application of the Branch concept, it would seem reasonable to claim that the imagery ultimately points to the person of Christ. A typological understanding fits both the immediate and broader canonical contexts well. Zechariah 6.12, 202.

Fasting displeased God when practiced out of a legalistic heart. Moreover, the opposite—feasting—offended God equally when not practiced with genuine spirituality. Zechariah 7.6, 218.

Justice denotes the rights and duties each party possesses. These privileges arise from the shared covenant the Lord made with his people. Accordingly, everyone has his own special mišpāṭ. The task of righteousness requires all to render consistently this justice and the ethical claims that mišpāṭ demands. Thus, the Lord intended for his righteousness to extend to all in order to safeguard the wellbeing of those united into one community under divine law. Zechariah 7.8-14, 220–221.

It was easy to spend fast-days mourning their losses, but harder to face up to God’s continuing demands. Were they any more prepared than their fathers to work out in everyday life the spirit of God’s law? The purpose of fast-days was to give them renewed incentive to do so through renewed experience of confession, forgiveness and future hope. Zechariah 7,  227.

The point of these visions, (as with most apocalyptic literature) is not to give a timeline or blueprint for the future but to assure God’s people that despite the way the world appears to be God is in control and his kingdom plan is sure. Thus,  we should Be confident. Obey God. Repent of sin. Do the work God has called you to do (rebuild the Temple) because God is in control, He punishes and removes sin, He gives His people power and He is preparing Messiah to come to rule and provide for His people. God is at work now to accomplish his eternal plan

The question of faith turns on human ability to recognize the Lord’s true glory and the willingness to act on that knowledge.  Zechariah 8.13, 243.

The middle section of Zechariah consists of 4 sermons that exhort the people that God expects character change and obedience now to prepare what he as for them in the future. In the present, hypocritical ritual is of no interest to God (7:1-7). Instead, true worship is expressed in justice, mercy and compassion to others (7:8-14). In the future the faithful few can expect full restoration of every promised blessing (8:1-17). Thus, we sacrifice (fast) now so we will feast when the LORD returns (8:18-23)

The universal and eschatological tone of the text suggests a fulfillment on a scale that the nation has never experienced. Days will come when no oppressor—whether Alexander, Caesar, or any other of the Lord’s foes—will transgress God’s holy place.  Zechariah 9.1-8, 269.

Symbolically, the new Messiah riding a beast of burden, not an animal known for its military value, powerfully underscores the peaceable kingdom over which the Messiah will rule. Thus, the symbolism of riding a donkey emphasizes the peaceable mission of the Messiah...Quite appropriately, none of the Gospel writers cite v. 10 when explaining how Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry fulfilled the prophecy of Zech 9:9. Only after Christ’s second coming will creation see v. 10 fulfilled. Zechariah 9.9-10, 274-275.

Those who in their submission to the Lord are like sheep become invincible as war-horses in His service.” Zechariah 10.3, 292.

Time and again God sent shepherds to administer justice and to promote righteousness. With equal consistency, the nation utterly rejected every shepherd and their God who had sent godly leaders. The consequence of this disregard for the Lord was increasing levels of divine judgment just as Deut. 28 had promised long ago. Zechariah 11, 347.

The Lord’s eye serves as an anthropomorphism to convey God’s watchful care over his people. The nation need not fear because their God was watching over them continually.   Zechariah 12.4-5, 355–356.

Zechariah 9_14 structureZechariah described the coming day when all of these vacuous projections onto mere objects will be stripped away, exposing the utter foolishness of giving obeisance to an idol. Zechariah 13.2, 376.

This absence of light, as stated above, does not necessarily suggest darkness. Rather, any light visible to the people would emanate from the Lord himself. More to the point, no longer would people mark time by the movement of the earth around various heavenly bodies. The changes in physical phenomena that have delineated days since the very beginning of time could not possibly describe the scope of the changes the Lord will accomplish in his new creation. Thus, the unique character of the day reflects a completely new order on earth. Zechariah 14.6-7, 409.

Thus, no longer will any distinction between secular and profane remain (see 8:3). Even human tendencies toward aggression and oppression will be brought under submission to the Lord’s righteousness as peace finally reigns on earth and weapons of warfare serve peaceful purposes. Zechariah 14.20-21, 427–428.

God is coming for His people. In His first coming he was rejected by most of his people and the old covenant structure was destroyed. In His 2nd coming His people will welcome Him, repent and be saved even though every nation will be against them.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bible Translation Chapel at PIU

SAMSUNG            SAMSUNG            Tuesday’s chapel service at PIU focused on Bible translation. We have at least one chapel focused on the work of Bible translation every semester. Peter Knapp (left), PIU professor and “Islands of the Sea” Bible translator, was the speaker. Peter highlighted the need for Bible translation worldwide and the translation efforts that are going on right now in the Pacific Islands and on the campus at PIU. Peter showed how effective Bible translation is as part of the overall missions effort and challenged PIU students to be part of it by enrolling in the Bible Translation emphasis in the PIU Bachelors Degree in Biblical Studies program. On the right is our chapel coordinator Mike Owen.

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The ladies led the music and worship time

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Peter showed how Bible translation fulfills our PIU core values of excellence, accessibility, and transformation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reading Through Haggai

Haggai ChartHaggai is the first of the three post-exilic prophets. Both Haggai and Zechariah are written to encourage the returned exiles to refocus on the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple. Because of opposition and discouragement the work had stopped and the people began to pursue their own selfish interests rather than their relationship with God. God then raised up Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to rebuild the temple and pursue relationship with God.

As Richard Taylor says in the New American Commentary, Haggai

The overall purpose of the Book of Haggai is thus quite clear. Its four messages seek to stir the people of Judah to turn from their self-centered ways and to undertake, with God’s help, the restoration of the Jerusalem temple so that the Lord may once again uniquely manifest himself in this sacred place. If they will present themselves to him as a pure people, the Lord promises divine enablement for their task, unsurpassed glory for the new temple, and elevation of a Davidic heir to lead the people in triumph over their enemies. 59.

The message of Haggai assures us that If you make your relationship with God (and God’s work) your highest priority, God will come to you, encourage you, fill your work with glory, and give you blessing

Far too often the affluence of God’s people, rather than encouraging a self-imposed measure of personal sacrifice in order to advance the cause of God’s work in this world, leads instead to a hoarding of resources and to an ugly self-indulgence. The Book of Haggai vividly points out this inconsistency and calls for the people of God to move beyond such worldly ways of thinking. Richard A. Taylor, Haggai, 25.

The first sermon of Haggai (chapter 1) exhorts us to renew our commitment to God and to His work. To the Jews of Haggai’s day it meant, “Rebuild the Temple!” Today we are God’s temple. We rebuild the temple when we renew commitment to worship and serve God. We need to build our own relationship with God and then help others to build their relationships with God.

Persistent obedience to God’s calling for them would be accompanied by the enabling blessing of his presence for the accomplishment of things greater than they could imagine. They should forge ahead with their work, drawing strength from the Lord’s invigorating presence with them. Taylor, Haggai 2.3-5, 150.

The 2nd sermon urges us to renew our courage by focusing on God’s promises, not present circumstances. (2:1-9) The returned exiles saw themselves as an insignificant people under the thumb of the mighty Persian empire and the temple they had built as small and ugly compared to Solomon’s. But God’s presence was there and that is what was important. It is God’s presence in our lives that fills our insignificant works with power, meaning and glory. Courage comes from knowing God and gaining this Divine perspective.

The 3rd sermon (2.10-19) emphasizes that holy service must come from a clean heart and life. The problem is that we cannot make ourselves clean by anything we do. The only solution is the cleanness that comes from relationship with God. God offers forgiveness and blessing when we commit to relationship with Him. Our holiness never comes from a person or act. It can only be given by God.

The 4th sermon (2:20-23) emphasizes that because God is in control of the future, we can be confident. God in control of nature and the nations and will use them for His purposes. When we become “God’s servant” the power of God is behind us. It is about God, not about us.

PIU Staff Fellowship

SAMSUNG            SAMSUNGSunday evening we held our first PIU staff fellowship at Michael and Samantha’s house. It was a good time of relaxing and talking about “other things besides work.” There was a lot of good food to share too. Here are a few pictures from the evening, including one of Courage getting ready for the 49ers season opener which took place the next day.

 

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Sharing Food, Sharing Fellowship