Thursday, October 30, 2014

TRACS Conference #2

TRACS (1)Here are a few more pictures from the TRACS conference that Sam, Nino and I attended last week. I have to say that this was probably one of the best ones I have been to in a long time. It was very cool to be in a hotel that was right in the airport terminal – I have never gone from baggage claim to my hotel without leaving the building before. There are some hotel pictures below. Without a doubt, the best part of the conference was the keynote speaker at the banquet, Ravi Zacharias. I have never heard him live before and found him to be a captivating, meaty, thought provoking speaker. I heard that he is coming to Guam in December and I am hoping to be able to attend. We also had a good opportunity to sit with TRACS staff, including our liaison Dr. Pramanik (pictured with us here in front of the TRACS registration sign), who will be coming out to Guam in January for our midterm (we are in the midst of a 10 year accreditation cycle) QCR review. We would appreciate your prayers as we prepare for that.

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On the left we model our PIU formal wear. On the right a picture from our meeting with Dr. Pramanik

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Left, we listen to Ravi Zacharias at the closing banquet. On the right TRACS president Dr. Boatner welcomes us to the conference

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This is the view from the window of the room that Nino and I shared

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And here is the view from the lobby of the hotel looking down into the airport terminal

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Snake in the Bathroom!

SAMSUNGYesterday Joyce was doing her grandmotherly duty watching the grandkids over at Mike and Samantha’s house. A Guam brown tree snake picked a bad moment to decide to enter the house through the back bathroom door – when the snake killer was there. When Mike and Sam returned home they found the snake comfortably wrapped around the bathroom mirror. Joyce grabbed the snake and gave it to Samantha to put inside a plastic bag. They put the bag in the freezer so they could trade the snake in later for some snake vertebrae jewelry. Joyce estimated the snake’s length to be about five feet. Honestly, we have not seen many snakes recently. This is only the second one Joyce has killed this year.

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Here are a couple more pictures of the snake hunt. It was an adventure for the whole family.

TRACS Conference #1

TRACS (6)After a couple days off in North Carolina I headed down to Orlando, Florida early Tuesday morning to attend the TRACS annual conference. PIU has been a member of TRACS since 1999 and I have attended this conference every year since 2002. It is an important time for us to network with TRACS staff and our colleagues at other TRACS schools. The conference did not begin until Wednesday night, but I went to the conference on Tuesday to be ready for an important added meeting on Wednesday morning. Dr. Sam arrived on Tuesday afternoon and Nino arrived later that evening at midnight.

The meeting was with Dr. Brent Brantley who is a Wycliffe missionary. TRACS (3)Brent is the founder of the TITIP school in West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), with whom PIU is now affiliated, who now works for Wycliffe from the US Mainland. Brent came to us last year with an idea for a program in International Business that would provide a Christian approach for business designed for students in our area of the world who want a top level academic program in an environment of Christian discipleship. I have been praying for years that God would work to help us meet the desire of Pacific Islander students for a business  program like this at PIU and it seems that God may have answered that prayer. 

The bottom line decision for the meeting is that PIU will incorporate the program plan fromTRACS (5) Brent into our liberal studies program as an 18 credit emphasis. Brent’s group will provide most of the teachers, who will come from, mostly, Christian teachers from American state universities who desire to make an impact on the mission field. We are still tweaking the class lineup, but the plan is to have an “International Business Emphasis” ready for the Fall of 2015. We would appreciate your prayers as we move forward.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reading Through Genesis with Goldingay #2

I realize that I am way behind in posting my thoughts as I read through John Goldingay’s, Old Testament Theology, volume 1, Israel’s Gospel. My plan was to make a post for each of the 11 chapters as I finished them, but that has not worked out so far. I have been posting the quotes as I read (3 times per week) on my Facebook page which you can read there. This post will cover chapters three and four which mainly focus on the theology of Genesis 3-11 (Chapter 3 – God Started Over), and Genesis 12-50 (Chapter 4 – God Promised).

Goldingay’s focus in chapter 3 is that the creation story in 1-2 should not have led us to be surprised at the Fall. The tree with deadly fruit was in the garden, and Adam and Eve did not have the capacity in themselves to deal with it. Thus, chapters 3-11 analyze what went wrong and how God will enter into the situation to remedy it. However, at the end of chapter 11 we are still left with a seemingly hopeless situation in which all the world has succumbed to curse and its effects. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope in the rare stories of faith and God’s promise of continued involvement with his created world.

The first section in the chapter, Disobedience and Discovery, deals with the disaster of sin. Of course, evil is in the world before Adam’s sin in the person of the snake and, at least in potential form, through the “tree of knowledge.” This fact, along with the need for the “tree of life” implies that death was already a reality and invades the garden of God. Adam’s failure to use his God-imaged freedom to trust God plunges the world into the curse instead of the humans subjecting the world to God’s rule. Nevertheless, God continues to fully enter into relationship with Adam and Eve and this brings hope and forgiveness into the story.

God is not a person who relates to the world with supernatural indifference or in cool rationality.If the world was created with laughter, it is wrecked with anguish. 138

The 2nd section of the chapter, Expulsion and Loss, deals with the “fall’ which Goldingay characterizes as a “failure” and a “loss” instead of a “fall.” Genesis 3 only begins the story of humanity’s wrongdoings. The bottom line is that “life ends in death and we cannot find our own way to the secret of eternal life.”

The 3rd section of chapter 3, Violence and Curse, discusses the story of Cain and Abel and its implications. Blessing works itself out as God blesses people with birth and the productivity of creation, but humans bring curse on themselves as they ignore the divine word and are rejected by God and bring in murder and broken relationships. However, God cannot leave them alone and continues to reveal himself to draw people to “call on the name of Yhwh” to be in relationship with him.

Section 4 of the chapter deals with the Fall and Ruin  caused by sin leading up to the flood while section 5, Grace and Exemption, discusses the faith of Noah and God’s gracious covenant with him. God warns that sin always leads to devastating ruin which brings great pain to God and judgment to people. God’s sovereignty does not mean that God likes everything that happens. Hope comes as God extends grace to Noah, a man who “lived in right relationship with God and according to his standards.” God then extends covenant to Noah, to which Noah responds (correctly) with worship.

The 6th section of the chapter, Realism and Pledging, focuses on the fact that God is realistic about the condition of people, “inclined toward what is bad,” yet removes the curse of the flood as God moves to reconcile humanity. Despite pervasive sin God desires to bless and be in relationship with the people he has created.

We are persons like God and therefore God can be portrayed as a person like us...All this will make incarnation possible and intelligible, when God appears as a human being and enjoys food and drink, weeps and gets angry, goes for walks with people and asks questions in order to discover what people think. 176

Section 7, Abuse and Strife, show that despite God’s covenant, human beings mess things up and “justify God’s gloomy conclusion about how bad things are with human beings (Gen. 8.21).” Family, sexuality, cities and nations are abused to create “strife which spoils life.” At the end of chapter 11 of Genesis there seems to be doubt as to whether God’s creation purpose will ever be fulfilled.

God's intention is a diverse humanity that can find its unity not in the domination of one city, one tower, or one language but in the 'blessing for all the families of the earth' (Genesis 12.3). It is the test for globalization and for the world's one superpower. 190

Chapter 4, God Promised, begins the story of Israel’s ancestors and encouraged Israel to “apply to itself the story of the blessing of creation and see it as God’s promise for it as a people.” In a way God was “starting over” his creation plan through the nation of Israel.

In the 1st section, God’s Charge and God’s Promises, Goldingay discusses the promise and covenant given to Abraham. God makes promises to Abram and God requires a faith response from him. God’s unconditional covenant with Abraham still requires him to make a faith commitment lived out through obedience (as imperfect as Abram’s was).

The First Testament subverts the distinction between YHWH's promises and YHWH's commands by calling both "God's Words," and thus subverts the distinction between what we call faith and what we call obedience. 198

Circumcision becomes a sign of male unfitness to be part of the people of God... The covenant sign becomes the covenant indictment and the covenant shame upon men. It is a mark of failure as much as a mark of status. 203

The people of God always live in the context of the charge and the promise, but the way these work out vary with people's situations, their context in God's purpose, and what is going on between them and God. 204

Section 2, Blessings: Nationhood and Land, deals with God’s blessing of Abraham to give him the land and make him a great nation. God works with individuals but his purpose is to create a people.

To believe that God could save individuals and ignore nations is like believing God can save souls and ignore bodies. By relating to Israel, sanctifying nationhood in it, and determining thus to draw other nations to God, the promise affirms God's involvement in the corporate aspect to human life and in the historical order. 205

Even if she came close to cursing Sarai, God will make her a beneficiary of the promise that foreign peoples will find blessing through Abraham. 207

It is as owner of the land that YHWH can grant it to one people or another, but any people that comes into possession of it has to remember that in a sense it continues to belong to YHWH. 209

Section 3, Being a Blessing, discusses God’s 2nd command to Abram to be a blessing to all the world. From the beginning the purpose of the calling of Abraham and the creation of the nation of Israel was to fulfill God’s creation plan for the whole world. Israel was to do this by “faithful exercise of power” that God gave them and sharing of the blessing.

The purpose of Israel's history of liberation was to point to and witness to the fundamental reality, to God's liberation of the world into the just and righteous order of his creation. 214

The First Testament does not develop a doctrine of rejection to parallel its doctrine of election...There is one blessing in order that there may be many. That is how God and the world works. People receive things so that they may share them with others. 217

Humanity is created to control God's world and to enjoy God's garden and most of God's fruit, but God remains the owner of these. Humanity's relation to the world is not that the garden serves humanity, but that humanity serves the garden. 220

Section 4, Abraham’s God and Other Peoples, discusses how the blessing to Israel and the world around it should work out in practice. Even though, at times, poor response to Abraham brought judgment, God’s desire was that they live in peace with those around them and be a conduit of God’s blessing to them.

Esau's story puts a question mark after the unequivocally negative readings of an enemy. "No matter how severe the conflict, or how deeply rooted in past history, reconciliation between brothers remains a possibility, even if that does not finally eventuate in a close relationship." 226

Section 5, Promise and Fulfillment, deals with the “already-not yet” aspect of the covenant that Israel lived in, and that we live in today. All the promises are partially fulfilled in the present but Israel must live in the light of the future full fulfillment of the covenant. This involves living on the foundation of God’s promise and seen in generosity with his blessings.

Relating to God means living in the present in light of the future and living for the future in light of the present. 231

So a sense of God answering is not a necessary preliminary to the experience of God acting. Perhaps. God does appear to Jacob once more (Gen 32.24-32). Perhaps this was a response to that prayer, distanced from it to discourage Jacob from thinking he can manipulate God the way he manipulates other people. 241

Section 6, The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, discusses the revelation of God and his character to the patriarchs. This is revealed through the names given to God and through his appearances to them and what God says to them.

People who belong to other religions (Melchizedek) who do not know what God has done in Israel's story are not cut off from any knowledge of God. They have a knowledge of God that needs filling out and building on. 243

Calling God "the God of my father" first affirms that God enters into personal commitment to individuals. Other Middle Eastern religions had many gods who could relate to individuals in this way. Among Israel's ancestors there is only one God to do so, so that this God is both the high God, the awesome creator, and the personal God involved with individuals. 245

God could have defeated Jacob by means of superior firepower, but God apparently foregoes such possibilities, lays aside the divine power and glory, and engages with human beings on something like level terms...This was no dream, no mere spiritual struggle. God becomes human in order to struggle with humanity. 251

Section 7, God Who Acts, says that God also reveals himself through what he does in seeking to “ensure that blessing wins out over curse.” He works directly or indirectly. He works through humans or despite humans. He even works through events in which he does not seem to be involved.

Genesis does not see God as necessarily the primary cause of events and humanity as the secondary cause. Sometimes human beings are the primary cause of events and God's involvement is reactive... God's intentions, worldly events and human decisions may thus interrelate in a number of ways. One cannot universalize any of these ways in which God relates to human actions. 252

The emphasis on the brothers' free actions in the narrative and in Joseph's comments works against the suggestion that, having decided to take Jacob's family into Egypt to survive the famine, God somehow inspired the brothers to do a deed they would otherwise have not thought of - any more than later God had decided to have Jesus betrayed and therefore somehow inspired Judas to betray him. In such events, both God's design and human design are involved, but the former is working against the latter. 260

Section 8, Relating to God, shows that when God acts a person has a choice to respond and this choice determines their destiny.

The ambiguity that runs through his story suggests that the special position of the people Jacob-Israel is not dependent on which way the ambiguity falls in this life... The ambiguity that runs through the Jacob's story advertises the possibility that a person like him may change or may continue to be what he or she has always been. 262

The absence of words such as holy from these stories is a sign that there is no holy caste (priesthood), holy time (sabbath) or holy place (temple), as there is no holy book. 264

The final 2 sections of chapter 4, Marriage and Parenthood and Family Life, focus on the outworking of God’s promise and plan in the very mundane arena of the family life of the patriarchs. The families must deal with problems that seem to put the promise in doubt (infertility) and their bad choices create conflict and broken relationships. Rivalries, abuse of power, deceit, fraud and outright evil shows that God is committed to working through and with dysfunctional people and families. God is comfortable with working through very fallible people because God is able to change lives.

From the beginning, this family's life involves bereavement, grief and the need to cope with the practical consequences of these...The stories do not ask where death comes from, but focus on the way God's story continues. 272

Most of the ancestors' experiences of marriage and family are not distinctive to them, but are the kind that make human life in general fall short of people's dreams... they imply that these realities of marriage and family are not the way things are supposed to be. 275

Like other characters in Israel's story, Joseph is a human being with strengths and weaknesses, and God works through both of these-- and not merely despite them.281

The treatment of deception provides a particularly clear indication that the First Testament is not as interested in passing moral judgments on its characters as it is in seeing how God works out a purpose through them in their moral ambiguity. 285

It is in these dysfunctional patriarchal families that God's blessing works itself out. In their very growth, through and not merely despite their surrogate motherhood and their multiple wives, the promise of increase comes true. God is relaxed about working via human fallibility and human mistakes... Their hope and their gospel lie not in the moments when the human beings get things right, as they occasionally do, but in the fact that God is making promises come true through the whole story and not only through its acceptable features. 287

Fall Trip–the Carolinas

10403583_10154745225115427_1507748684240831330_nAfter Kansas I headed for North Carolina. I had planned to arrive Monday and then leisurely head over to Southeastern Seminary to meet with a seminary class there and some administrators to talk about opportunities for ministry at PIU. Bad weather in Kansas City grounded me overnight and I ended up in a rush to get to Southeastern. (I did get to see the 49ers beat the Rams on Monday Night Football while grounded. I also met PIU grad Rodney Mickey (right) while I was in the KC airport. He works there and helped me get through the airport to my hotel.) Though I didn’t make it to Southeastern in time to talk to the seminary class, I did meet several faculty and administration members there who were very interested in some cooperative ministry and sending some doctoral students as interns our way. Please pray for us as we explore the possibilities. Thanks to my friend Dr. Ken Keathley, who I met at the Gospel Day Celebration in Palau for great hospitality and making so many connections for me.

SAMSUNG            My second stop was at Columbia International University. CIU and PIU have had connection for a long time. Our current Student Life Director, Sarah Brubaker, is a graduate of CIU and I have been there many times to recruit teachers. CIU English prof Joe LeTexier has always been so gracious to allow me to speak in the TEFL classes there. I was able to talk with several about-to-be graduates from the Master’s in Teaching English as a Foreign Language program and from the Seminary. SAMSUNG            Two couples are seriously considering coming out to PIU. Please pray with them as they consider this. As always, thank you to Don and Melissa Howell who allow me to make their home my home while I am in Columbia. I also had a great time of fellowship with Steve and Philip Bradley at lunch while I was there.

After CIU, I headed back up to Winston-Salem NC for some down time with Ernie and Annette Ladd, parents of current PIU student Josh Ladd. Ernie was one of my first teaching colleagues at Emmaus High School in Palau back in the mid-80’s. It was a good time to relax, watch a little football and rest before I headed down to the TRACS conference in Orlando Florida. SAMSUNG            The picture on the left was taken as I filled up with gas in S. Carolina. It is a little fuzzy but the price of gas there was $2.89 a gallon. The cheapest gas I saw in the States was $2.79 in both Kansas and South Carolina. I know I should have taken more pictures. Maybe next year….

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reading Through Matthew #2 (14-28)

Matthew ChartSince September  I have been reading through the commentary series The Bible Speaks Today, edited by 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 (in blue). The commentary series starts with The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven, by Michael Green. This is the second and final post on the Gospel of Matthew – you can read the first post here

Chapter 14 continues the section in which Jesus presents the kingdom to the people of Israel. This section shows that Jesus has the authority to offer the kingdom and bring its blessings to Israel, but only the faithful will experience it. (13.53-16.12) Sadly most of the nation rejected it. This section is framed by the rejection of Jesus in his hometown Nazareth and the rejection by the Jewish leadership at the end of the section.

Jesus is the one who comes to make the messianic feast. He takes the resources, pitifully inadequate, provided by his disciples. He multiplies them over and over again, and there is more left over at the end than there was at the beginning. Such is the power of the Messiah. Matthew 14.13-21, 166.

They were called to go to Jesus, to direct their lives to the walk of faith. But storms often beset them, and fear chilled them. In his power they could for a while do what would otherwise have been impossible—until they considered what they were doing and reflected on the size of the waves. Then, of course, they would begin to sink—until they cried out to the Son of God for his powerful hand to catch them and hold them up. That is what the story would have been used for, and still is. Matthew 14.22-32, 168.

Faith is touch. It is making contact. 

God’s word, not human tradition, is the basis for authentic worship...It is this totally different attitude to worship that separates the Pharisees from Jesus. Both believed in the prior grace of God. But the Pharisee response to this was a passion for detailed precision in worship. For Jesus it meant loving obedience, resulting in an intimate relationship with God. Matthew 15.1-20, 169-170.

It is one of the marks of greatness to allow compassion for people to overrule premeditated programmes. Matthew 15.21-28, 172.

We see some marvellous display of the Lord’s power, and yet we are full of doubts when we are thrown into another situation of need that casts us back on him. We simply do not expect him to act the second time! ...Lack of trust often springs from forgetfulness of past blessing. Matthew 15.29-39 174.

Even with this rejection the next section of the gospel shows that Jesus is the king who has the position and power to carry out God’s kingdom program. (16.13-18.35) Peter’s confession of Jesus as Messiah is the correct teaching that will provide a solid foundation for the church, but as Jesus showed, kingly glory will only come after the cross and resurrection. In the same way, kingdom greatness comes only to Jesus’ followers who follow his example of sacrifice and service.

Jesus is sending out his disciples for world mission. He is equipping them with his Spirit. They go in his name and as his representatives, and are naturally bound by the terms of their commission. If people respond to the conditions of the gospel, and repent and believe, then they can be confidently assured that God has indeed forgiven them. Jesus made that very plain. If they refuse those conditions, their sins are emphatically not forgiven by God. Jesus made that very plain, too.  Matthew 16.18-20 180–181.

Several important lessons to be learnt from Caesarea Philippi... First, this incident tells us we have to choose between world religions, sensuality, Caesar-worship and Jesus. Secondly, we are called to public confession of what God reveals to us, supremely of who Jesus is. Thirdly, we shall constantly be liable to fall into the comfortable error of the Pharisees, who looked for a Messiah that would fit in with their preconceptions, and who would be validated by signs and wonders, constantly successful, and the perquisite of the learned. Fourthly, we shall be engaged, if we follow Jesus, in constant spiritual battle. Finally, it will be costly to follow him. It will mean suffering. Matthew 16.21-28, 183–184.

Matthew goes out of his way to stress the danger of lack of faith. He has had a lot to say about the failure of the disciples in this department already. It is an important lesson, and the more settled and established a church becomes, the more it needs to learn afresh that it can achieve precisely nothing without sincere dependence on the Lord. Matthew 17.14-21, 187.

(Jesus) was free of the law, and yet, so as not to give offence, he was subject to the law in every way...Jesus set an example in the voluntary abnegation of his rights, and this provided a great challenge and stimulus in the developing life of the church. He did it, even though such obedience was part of the path which led him to the cross. Matthew 17.22-27, 189.

The kingdom upturns secular values. Real greatness is not to be found in seeking to be praised and served by others, but in seeking others to serve, especially those who have no rights...So humility is not a matter of suppressing our drive and hiding our gifts. Humble people are quite unself-conscious about it all, like the lad. They claim no right from others, or from their Master. They follow where Jesus calls and stay where Jesus puts them. That is humility. Matthew 18.1-4, 190–191.

Church life is bedevilled by failure to be open over wrongs that are committed, and by failure to forgive. As Christians, we are called to openness with those we feel have wronged us, and to frank forgiveness when apology is sincerely made. Hidden grievances and unwillingness to forgive are two things that make shipwreck of personal relations. Jesus warns us against them. Matthew 18.15-22, 198.

In the next section (19.1-20.34) Matthew describes the self-sacrificing discipleship that Jesus requires in the present age. Kingdom rewards come by grace and are given to those who are dependent on Jesus, as children and devote themselves to him with self-sacrificial commitment shown by obediently giving up all and following him.

It is not possible for the ethics of the kingdom to be articulated in anything less than ideal terms. And yet the Lord is consistently compassionate to those who fail, repent, and come back to him for restoration. This passage follows hard on the heels of one that expresses the unbounded mercy and forgiveness of God. So legalistic rigorism is as inappropriate for the Christian community as is casual divorce. Green, Matthew 19.1-12, 205.

Christians who have given up all for him will share his victory (28). In the new world, they will also find that they gain far more than they lose. Believers find enhanced relationships, and profit from the beautiful generosity of brother and sister Christians in the loan of homes and in the quality of relationships. And they will one day enter into the new world beyond the grave, where they will find many surprises (30). Christ is no-one’s debtor, and those who sacrifice to follow him will find it abundantly worthwhile. Matthew 19.23-30, 210.

The point of the story is plain. Length of service and long hours of toil in the heat of the day constitute no claim on God and provide no reason why he should not be generous to those who have done less. All human merit shrivels before his burning, self-giving love. Grace, amazing grace, is the burden of this story. All are equally undeserving of so large a sum as a denarius a day. All are given it by the generosity of the employer. All are on the same level. Matthew 20.1-16, 212.

Greatness in the world is determined by status; in the kingdom by function. In the world greatness is shown by ruling; in the kingdom by serving. In the world’s eyes the great are those who can order others about; in the kingdom they are those who endure hard times and injustice without complaining. Matthew 20.17-28, 215–216.

The triumphal entry section (21.1-23.39) presents Jesus to the nation as its king but he was rejected and so he pronounces the condemnation to come. The second half of the section is a discussion between Jesus and the Jewish leadership about where his authority to cleanse the temple comes from. Jesus clearly shows that his authority comes from God and to reject his kingship and mission is to reject God. 

For it would not be possible for Matthew’s leaders to hear this story without realizing its implication: God will judge bad churches. His severest judgment will be reserved for those churches whose worship is hollow, where corruption and dissension are rife, and which repel rather than attract ‘Gentile’ outsiders. Matthew 21.1-13, 220.

God’s judgment will always be on the adherents of the Christian religion who pig-headedly resist change and try to box the Spirit of God into what has always been done, what is safe, and what is uncontroversial. God will judge the priests who do not lead the praise with heartfelt worship, and who do not rejoice when unconventional new voices worship Jesus and broken lives are healed by his mighty power. Matthew 21.14-17, 221–222.

God is no more bound to Christian churches with a long pedigree than he was to Israel with an even longer one. If there is no fruit (in prayerfulness, in evangelism, in love and ministry to the community), God will judge such churches and they will die. Matthew 21.18-22, 223.

God expects his leaders, whom he trusts, and whom he equips so richly, to be utterly loyal to him. They must not make their position an excuse to ‘keep the fruit’ and feather their nest. They must not fail to listen to God’s prophetic messengers in their congregations (albeit unordained), and they must above all else beware of ‘crucifying the Son of God all over again’. If God had been compelled to change tenants once, he could, if provoked, do it again. Matthew 21.33-46, 230.

So the meaning of this parable is clear. God has provided the feast of the kingdom. It is the wedding feast for his Son. The invitation goes out far and wide. If you reject it, you miss the party. If you think you can get in relying on your own fitness, you will be thrown out. Many are invited, but few show, by their response, that they are chosen.  Matthew 22.1-14, 232.

He (Jesus) hangs the hope of life after death totally upon the generosity of God, who stoops to win our hearts upon this earth, and cannot bring himself at death to scrap what is precious to him. Exodus 3:6 not only suggests the reality of life after death through the generosity of God when we had no claim on him at all; it hints at the nature of this life: unbroken fellowship with him and with his people for ever. Matthew 22.23-33, 236.

If there is real love for God, there will inevitably be real love for neighbour; God’s overflowing love is infectious. The criterion of whether love for God is real is whether or not it is reflected in our relationships with others... With God first and neighbour second, all else in the law is commentary. Matthew 22.34-40, 237.

Despite the resistance and disobedience of the Pharisees and of the people in general, Jesus loves them and goes on reaching out to them. He longs to gather them to him as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings—a marvellous image of the mother-love of the Lord. Matthew 23.33-39, 247.

In the Olivet Discourse (24.1-25.46), Jesus teaches that Israel’s rejection would lead to their destruction and then their regathering, judgment and deliverance at the coming of the Son of Man. Judgment was coming on Jerusalem at an unexpected time so they needed to be ready for it by watching the signs around them and serving others. Judgment and kingdom entrance will be determined by readiness for Jesus’ coming which is shown by obedient devotion to kingdom mission and service to Jesus’ kingdom people.

Christians should look towards the Son of Man, hidden and inglorious during his time on earth, but coming in unimaginable splendour. And when he comes, it will be sudden (37), unexpected (44) and unmistakable (27). Matthew 24, 256.

The purpose of prophecy is not to give us history written in the future tense, but, like film previews and hazard warning lights on a motorway, to lift our hearts in expectation or in warning. The date-fixing approach neglects this, and, by its mixture of literalism and speculation, militates against patient faith and social involvement. Matthew 24, 257.

He is looking for servants he can rely on, who will act in the same way when he is absent as when he is present... Holiness is called for. That is to be one of the main distinguishing marks of Christians in the time between the two advents. It is indispensable. Without it we shall land up with the hypocrites—outside the kingdom (24:51). Matthew 24.45-51, 259–260.

There are some things you cannot borrow. You need to possess them for yourself. It simply is not possible to rely on anyone else for them. Holiness is one of those things. It cannot be traded. If you are not what you profess to be, nobody else can help you or stand in for you. The bridegroom will come. And then it will be too late. Matthew 25.1-13, 261.

When we act faithfully under the responsibilities the Master has entrusted to us, our capacities will grow. If we do nothing with them, our ability to respond and be useful will diminish to vanishing point. The image is dynamic and organic. It is a powerful spur to responsibility in the service of the Master, and a warning against sloth, whether that is induced by laziness, fear of change or unwillingness to take risks. Matthew 25.14-30, 262.

The heart of Christianity is relationship with Jesus himself, which shows itself in loving, sacrificial care for others, in particular the poor and needy...the Son of Man has come—in disguise. He came and identified with the poor and needy...This Son of Man will judge us. He will separate sheep from goats. Matthew 25.31-46, 263-264.

In the final section of the Gospel, Jesus was crucified as the king of the Jews, rose from the dead to prove his authority as God’s King and delegated this authority to his disciples to make disciples of all nations. 26.1-28.20

But there is nothing that so delights the heart of Jesus as loving devotion from his disciples, something done expressly out of love for him. And the other beautiful thing (10) to remember is that no sacrifice made for Jesus is forgotten (13). Matthew 26.6-16, 269–270.

It speaks of the past rescue: it is a present feeding; and it brings the promise of future table fellowship with Jesus in the kingdom (29). But more than all this, it brings the Saviour to believing disciples, in all the power and beauty of his sacrificial love. The bread that comes down from heaven is Jesus, and this sacrament brings it before us as nothing else on earth can. Matthew 26.17-29, 274.

The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane shows that we can be close to God, live a holy life, and pray with faith, earnestness and expectancy, and yet not get what we ask for. It is a profound mystery before which we must bow... Prayer is not seeking to manipulate God. It is opening up to God. Matthew 26.30-56, 279.

The old order of Judaism with its temple and priesthood is fading away. It is being replaced by the new. The judges of Jesus are themselves judged, and they will before long see evidence, in the rise and meteoric growth of the church on the one hand and the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple on the other, which vindicates Jesus’ claim. Matthew 26.57-27.10, 284.

Judas did not allow his fall to drive him back to repentance and recommissioning. Peter did. Judas gave way to remorse and killed himself. Peter was brought back in deep humility and repentance to Jesus, was recommissioned, and became that rock-like man whom Jesus had longed for. But he could not become that rock until he realized how weak he was in his own strength. He could not bring in the kingdom with his sword or with his loyalty. God takes those who fail and makes them saints. Matthew 26.69-75, 286.

Jesus took Barabbas’ place. He took ours, too. Matthew 27.15-18, 291.

There is no trace of hatred against those who nailed Jesus to the cross. For it was not the Jews who crucified Jesus. If we listen to Matthew, we are all involved! It was the refusal of the human heart to respond to the King proclaiming the kingdom that led to Jesus’ death. In that refusal all sinful humanity is implicated. Matthew 27.25, 293.

In Jesus God has come to share our pain. God is no absent academic who writes a book on the problem of pain. He is the caring doctor who comes alongside us as we lie in anguish. He has got involved. He has allowed pain at its most severe to strike him. We worship a suffering God. Matthew 27.32-56, 297.

The gospel is nothing other than the resurrection of the crucified Jesus. On this hangs the truth of the kingdom and the supreme evidence for God’s existence. Without the resurrection there is no good news. Matthew 28, 319.

It is the concluding theme of all four Gospels. The baton has been passed from the Master to the disciples. The power of the risen Christ is available for those disciples. The commandment of the risen Christ is given for those disciples: they must go and make disciples. And the promise of the risen Christ is their comfort and stay: nothing shall ever rob them of his presence. Matthew 28.16-20, 321.

Jesus’ betrayal arrest and trial show that he was unjustly executed, but willingly gave himself as the Passover lamb that would provide entrance to His kingdom. The death of Jesus’ is the ultimate rejection by the nation, but he is killed as King of the Jews and as the ultimate righteous sufferer. Jesus’ resurrection validates his claim to be King of Israel and that He has authority to call all people to serve him as his disciples. The king forgives us, then commissions us!

Ministry in Kansas

Kansas (2)After my time in Dallas I flew up to Kansas City for a Bible conference with a group of Palauans in Junction City Kansas. Old friend and Emmaus alumni Alister Joseph picked me up at the airport and graciously waited with (we had dinner at Appleby’s while we waited) me SAMSUNGfor over an hour as my luggage did not arrive on my flight. After dinner we drove through cold wind and rain for two hours to Junction City. The inauspicious start though was a not an indicator of how the rest of the weekend went. There were 50-60 Palauans there for the two day conference and we had a great time of fellowship, eating, reminiscing about the good old days in Palau and worship.  The Palauan group were amazing hosts and great students. I very much enjoyed the many ministry, biblical, and theological discussions we had. Several of the group expressed interest in an on-line PIU course. And, of course, I did my best to let the young people know about the opportunities for education on the Guam campus of PIU. They especially enjoyed the backpacks.

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I got to spend time with a lot of old friends and met some new ones. I saw several of my old students from Emmaus High School and Pacific Islands University.

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I taught on reading the Bible in its bigger context. On the right one of my younger students, not only drew up her version of my power point slides, but even drew a portrait of me as I taught

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And there was good food.

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There was more good Palauan food at dinner/worship on Saturday night

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On Sunday we worshipped and celebrated communion together. What a great weekend! Thank you Palauan groups from Junction City, Houston, Missouri, and Denver for everything!

Monday, October 20, 2014

PIU Equipping Conference–November 6-8

 

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Family Time in Dallas

SAMSUNG            Dallas (21)While I was in Dallas I stayed with Missy, Cliff and Leila. Though I was busy with with meetings and conferences I did have a free day on Wednesday before I headed up to Kansas for a conference. I got to spend the day with with Missy and Leila with a visit to the park and store and then took Cliff, Missy and Leila out for dinner that evening. Then it was off to Kansas on Thursday morning. It was a real blessing to me to get to spend some time with them. I took a few pictures of Leila.

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Leila likes to chase the ducks

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And throw things into the water

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We all enjoyed our dinner at BJ’s Pizzeria

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall Trip–Dallas #1

SAMSUNG            My Annual Fall recruiting, conference, connecting trip to the US Mainland began October 5th with a flight from Guam, through Tokyo, to Dallas TX. I dodged 2 typhoons and the flights actually went very well. My daughter Missy met me at the airport and I spent the first evening at their house. (Family pictures in the next post). Monday was spent at Dallas Theological Seminary. The picture is of me standing next to the statue of Jesus washing Peter’s feet in the seminary courtyard. I got to meet with Patrick Pace who served this past summer as an intern at PIU. Patrick introduced me to Steve Holland of Camino Global. We talked about the possibility of sending Hispanic missionaries to work at PIU. I also had the opportunity to recruit some DTS students as future teachers.

SAMSUNGOn Tuesday I attended the Issachar Summit at Park Cities Baptist Church. The Issachar Summit was a meeting of mission, ministry and business leaders to coordinate the efforts to get the gospel to the over 1800 unengaged, unreached people groups in the world. PIU is a “Count for Zero” organization that is involved in this effort. We heard amazing stories about what SAMSUNG            God is doing in the world in places where, until recently, there was no missionary or Christian in the entire area. We also talked and prayed about getting to the places that have no church, Christian, or gospel witness at all. We were challenged to take on one of these unengaged people groups. I see that PIU has the personnel and training resources to have a great effect here. I am praying that God will provide the financial resources so that we can take on at least one of these groups in Indonesia.

After the meeting I was able to meet with another potential teacher at dinner. Please pray with us that we will be able to find the additional teachers we need for Micronesia.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pacific Islands University Mongolian BBQ Night

Save the Date! Pacific Islands University will be hosting a Mongolian BBQ Night at Top o the Mar on November 5, 2014. There will be good food, fellowship, and the chance to learn more about the great things happening at PIU this year! Tickets are $50 each. There will also be a silent auction. All funds raised will help PIU to continue offering affordable Christian higher education to the people of Guam and Micronesia. You can get your tickets at the PIU office or from any PIU faculty or staff person. Even though I am in Kansas right now, you can buy your tickets from me! Smile 10668657_608884172554967_5863401662543247536_o