Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Latest Update on Typhoon Maysak

bildeThe Guam Pacific Daily News just posted another update on the typhoon a few minutes ago.

Here is the main point…

A typhoon warning is now in effect for the islands of Yap, according to an alert from the U.S. National Weather Service.

Tyhoon Mayasak is currently a strong category 4 typhoon and is forecast to intensify further. Mayasak could become a category 5 storm with sustained winds of up to 155 mph during the next 12 hours.

Please pray for Fais and Ulithi as the storm will reach them shortly and for Yap as they expect the typhoon force winds later tonight.

Solar Power

SAMSUNG            Just before the end of 2014 we had a solar power system installed at our house by Pacific Solar Photovoltaics. As we get older we see the need to lower our expenses in order to be able to continue ministering at PIU and to the island of Guam. Lowering utility expenses is one good way to do that. We saw that as kind of a “retirement investment” that would begin to pay off right away. We were able to afford the system by doing a refinancing on our house. It has already begun to pay dividends for us as, with a house full of people in December/January, our first power bill was $95 and February’s bill was $13. This makes it easier to continue with the hospitality ministry that we have been able to do for the last few years and makes our house a better ministry tool. You can read an article from the local Guam TV news station and see a video they made about it here.

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The installation took only a few days

 

This is the part I like: a $13 power bill from Guam Power Authority…SAMSUNG

Monday, March 30, 2015

Prayer for Chuuk and Yap

Roofs were damaged on several home and trees were toppled after the winds and rain of Typhoon Kaysak hammered the island of Chuuk on March 29.Please be in prayer this week for the many islands of Chuuk and Yap. Typhoon Maysak hit Chuuk yesterday afternoon and is projected to hit Yap within the next couple days. According to the local Guam newspaper, the Pacific Daily News, damage on Chuuk from the 75+ mph winds was pretty extensive and “many people in Chuuk hadn’t seen or experienced this kind of disaster in their lifetimes.” You can see pictures of this and read the PDN article here. Many of our PIU grads live and work in Chuuk and we would ask you to join us in prayer for them. As I find out more about the damage I will let you know. The typhoon is on track to hit Yap with 140 mph winds on Tuesday or Wednesday. You can read about this and see the projected typhoon track here. This kind of wind would be devastating for Yap. Thank you for praying with this on this one.

Women’s Dorm Chapel

SAMSUNG            I am back on campus now after a month of travel, so I thought I should post about what is going on at SAMSUNG            PIU again. Friday was the residents of our women’s dorm were in charge of chapel led by their Resident Assistants. The RA’s help the Student Life staff make sure the dorm is well-managed, clean, and that everyone in the dorm has someone watching out for their well-being. They also help lead dorm Bible studies and organize activities. All of the ladies in the dorm are assigned to a small group under one of the RA’s. For this chapel, they presented some songs, skits and videos they made and shared their testimonies.

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Almost all the ladies shared how their small group had helped them grow as a person and as a Christian. They were all very thankful for the relationships they had made in the dorm

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They did a great job with the chapel. I think everyone was blessed. With all the giggling and laughter that accompanied their presentation, it was obvious that they enjoyed leading it too.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Eastern Micronesia Trip #3 - Hawaii

SAMSUNG            I ended my recent trip by traveling further East to Hawaii before I headed back to Guam on Tuesday/Wednesday. This gave me an opportunity to meet with my friends, and PIU partners, at New Hope Christian College. They are moving forward and making some changes, much as we are at PIU. One of the big changes for them is a name change to Pacific Rim University. It was good to have some time to meet with their administration and discuss how we can have PIU approach the needs of the region from the west and PRU from the East. Here are a few of the views from my time in Hawaii.

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I enjoyed a dinner meeting with my friend Randy Furushima, long time president of the school. We talked ministry strategy and watched the sunset on the ocean. This is the view from our table

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This was the view from my hotel window

Friday, March 27, 2015

Eastern Micronesia Trip #2–Majuro

SAMSUNG            I continued my trip through Eastern Micronesia on Friday the 20th, flying to Majuro in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. We have had some students from the RMI (we have four this semester) but I had never actually been there before (except in the airplane flying through). This time I was invited by the pastors there, who include two PIU alumni – Benny Luke and Josen Teico. So, over the weekend I presented the programs and ministries of PIU to theSAMSUNG            Rita Protestant Church and Rita Christian School. I was able to speak in the Sunday morning service and evening youth service. I also was able share in the RCS Monday morning chapel and give the PIU entry test at the Christian school. In addition, I was able to spend time with several church and government leaders. We have been praying that we would be able to offer classes to the people of the RMI for a long time and it appears that prayer has been answered. We would appreciate your prayers as we move forward to partner with the churches there.

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I joined Benny (blue shirt) and Josen (green shirt) along with other church leaders for dinner on Friday night. Benny is hard at work on Monday morning at Rita Christian School. These church leaders are asking PIU to work with the church to complete the degrees for their workers who lead the churches and teach in the Christian schools there.

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All the churches I saw there, pastored by our alumni, were full. I was privileged to be able to preach there and to share with them about what PIU could offer them

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The evening youth service was fun. I especially enjoyed the dancing and singing (they wrote all the songs they performed). I shared with them “5 reasons why going to college can make you into a better person.” They were very generous and made me feel very welcome

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For Monday morning chapel my audience ranged from the ages of 5 to 18.

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I gave the test to 36 potential PIU students. Most were from the Christian school but there were a few students that came over from the local public school too. Also, several College of the Marshall Islands students and grads brought over filled out PIU applications.

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I thought Majuro was a beautiful place and I enjoyed some wonderful fellowship with the people there.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eastern Micronesia Trip–Chuuk and Pohnpei

SAMSUNG            I returned last night from a 9 day trip through Eastern Micronesia. The purpose of the trip was securing places for our distance education centers in these islands, recruiting students and meeting with church leaders in the islands. I was supposed to leave on Monday for several meetings with Chuukese church leaders but my flight was postponed from Monday to Tuesday by tropical storm Bavi, which wreaked havoc on my Monday meetings. My friends in Chuuk had no SAMSUNG            idea that I would be coming Tuesday so I had to hustle to make the connections after arriving there. Nevertheless, I had productive meetings at Berea Christian School, Chuuk High School, Chuuk Department of Education and with PIU Board member Komber Kumo. I plan to return to Chuuk soon to follow up. We still hope to offer some classes at the renewed Chuuk TF this summer. We will really need to move quickly to get the students accepted and classes scheduled. (Pictures are of the Pohnpei skyline)

SAMSUNG            I flew to Pohnpei,as scheduled on Wednesday. On Wednesday night I met with the administration of Ohwa Christian School and Ohwa Theological College (pictured right) to discuss an agreement with them to house our distance education center. It was a very productive meeting and we came up with, I think, a good agreement to present to our boards. The people at Ohwa are very eager to have PIU classes taught there. In fact all 31 Ohwa students turned in their PIU applications to me the next day when we met for an informational meeting. I also got to meet most of the 10 high school seniors who also submitted PIU applications for next fall. We are also hoping to offer summer classes by distance education in Pohnpei this year.

SAMSUNG            I also had the first time experience of offering the PIU entry test at a public high school to 96 students on Thursday. They also seemed enthusiastic and asked me several questions about PIU. Even though most of the morning it was raining so hard on the tin roof we could not hear the audio portion of the test we managed to find a few rainless minutes to get the test in for all the students. It was exciting for me to give the test to such a large group and great to meet so many new potential students.

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I said goodbye to our new partners in Pohnpei on Friday afternoon and boarded the plane to head to Majuro the next stop on the trip….

Reading Through Acts #1 (Chapters 1-12)

I am continuing to read through the New Testament accompanied by the commentary series The Bible Speaks Today, edited by John R. W. Stott. The fifth volume of the series, The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the World, is also authored by Stott. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I post quotes from the commentary on my Facebook page and periodic summaries of the commentary here on my blog. I welcome discussion on these post on my Facebook page. As always, quotes from Stott are in blue font.

The book of Acts is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke. As the Gospel shows the kingdom work that Jesus began, Acts continues the story of what Jesus continued luke-intro_clip_image002to do, in the power of the Spirit, through the church. As Blomberg demonstrates (right), Luke-Acts that begins and ends with a world-wide (entire Roman empire) focus and revolves around the ascension of Jesus and sending of the Spirit. The church is the “body of Christ” and acts under the authority of the risen Jesus. The miracles, the teaching and actions of the disciples are all designed by Luke to show that it is Jesus acting through them. Luke wrote Acts to show show that Christianity is a movement from God which is the fullest expression of  Judaism, is legal and beneficial for Roman society, and that it was God’s plan all along for this small Jewish movement to become a multi-cultural, universal entity which would fulfill God’s plan for all creation.

Thus, the message of Acts is “The church, made up of all the people’s and cultures of this world, is God’s instrument in the present age to glorify God and bring people into His eternal kingdom.”

Acts ChartThe opening section of the book focuses on the founding of the church and its first evangelistic efforts in Jerusalem. At his ascension Jesus commissions the apostles to go from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth with the Kingdom message and promises the sending of the Spirit to empower the mission. The church chooses a 12th disciple because they must be the 12 “tribes” of the new age of God’s people.

The kingdom of God is his rule set up in the lives of his people by the Holy Spirit. It is spread by witness, not by soldiers, through a gospel of peace, not a declaration of war, and by the work of the Spirit, not by force of arms, political intrigue or revolutionary violence. At the same time, in rejecting the politicizing of the kingdom, we must beware of the opposite extreme of super-spiritualizing it, as if God’s rule operates only in heaven and not on earth. The fact is that, although it must not be identified with any political ideology or programme, it has radical political and social implications. Kingdom values come into collision with secular values. Acts 1.6-8, 42.

At the ascension Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the beginning of the church. This united all its members with Christ as members of his spiritual body in Spirit baptism. Thus, the unity of Christians is based on the internally dwelling Spirit, not creed or organization. The amazing result, thousands of converts who had recently been in favor of crucifying Jesus, showed that it was the power of God working to transform lives.

At Babel human languages were confused and the nations were scattered; in Jerusalem the language barrier was supernaturally overcome as a sign that the nations would now be gathered together in Christ, prefiguring the great day when the redeemed company will be drawn ‘from every nation, tribe, people and language’. Besides, at Babel earth proudly tried to ascend to heaven, whereas in Jerusalem heaven humbly descended to earth. Acts 2.1-13, 68.

Peter focused on Christ and told his story in six stages. (i) He was a man, though divinely attested by miracles; (ii) he was put to death by wicked hands, though according to God’s purpose; (iii) he was raised from the dead, as the prophets had foretold and the apostles had witnessed; (iv) he was exalted to God’s right hand, and from there poured out the Spirit; (v) he now gives forgiveness and the Spirit to all who repent, believe and are baptized; and (vi) he thus adds them to his new community. Acts 2.22-41, 79.

No self-centred, self-contained church (absorbed in its own parochial affairs) can claim to be filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a missionary Spirit. So a Spirit-filled church is a missionary church. Acts 2.42-47, 87.

In chapters 3-4 Peter and John, just as Jesus did, perform a miracle healing of a lame man. The miracle validated their preaching in Jesus’ name and again resulted in a mass conversion. There was also opposition but the church leaders realized that this was also part of God’s plan for the spread of the Gospel.

In reply, the apostles bore witness to Jesus Christ. Whether they were preaching to the crowd in the temple or answering accusations in court, their preoccupation was not their own defence but the honour and glory of their Lord. Acts 4.8-12, 96.

We will neither describe miracles as ‘never happening’, nor as ‘everyday occurrences’, neither as ‘impossible’ nor as ‘normal’. Instead, we will be entirely open to the God who works both through nature and through miracle. And when a healing miracle is claimed, we will expect it to resemble those in the Gospels and the Acts and so to be the instantaneous and complete cure of an organic condition, without the use of medical or surgical means, inviting investigation and persuading even unbelievers. Acts 3-4, 104.

When the devil could not defeat the church through outside persecution, he attempted to attack it through inner turmoil. Though the church was a revolutionary society that took care of the poor and needy there were dissatisfied people and hypocrites within it. God acted decisively to remove the hypocrisy and the church leaders acted wisely to deal with prejudice and turmoil within. The strength of the early church was that everyone took up the call to serve one another. 4-6

Calvin wrote in his commentary: We must have hearts that are harder than iron if we are not moved by the reading of this narrative. In those days the believers gave abundantly of what was their own; we in our day are content not just jealously to retain what we possess, but callously to rob others.… They sold their own possessions in those days; in our day it is the lust to purchase that reigns supreme. At that time love made each man’s own possessions common property for those in need; in our day such is the inhumanity of many, that they begrudge to the poor a common dwelling upon earth, the common use of water, air and sky. Acts 4.32-37, 107.

We have now seen that, if the devil’s first tactic was to destroy the church by force from without, his second was to destroy it by falsehood from within. He has not given up the attempt, whether by the hypocrisy of those who profess but do not practise, or by the stubbornness of those who sin but do not repent. The church must preserve its vigilance. Acts 5.1-11, 112.

As Bishop Festo Kivengere said in February 1979, on the second anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum of Uganda: ‘Without bleeding the church fails to bless.’ Persecution will refine the church, but not destroy it. If it leads to prayer and praise, to an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God and of solidarity with Christ in his sufferings, then—however painful—it may even be welcome. Acts 5.40-42, 119.

All Christians without exception, being followers of him who came ‘not to be served but to serve’, are themselves called to ministry, indeed to give their lives in ministry. But the expression ‘full-time Christian ministry’ is not to be restricted to church work and missionary service; it can also be exercised in government, the media, the professions, business, industry and the home. We need to recover this vision of the wide diversity of ministries to which God calls his people. Acts 6.2-6, 122.

Stephen’s martyrdom and speech, though tragic, will become the catalyst for the next phase in the growth of the church. The persecution, led by Paul, that followed forced the church to obey Jesus’ command to go out to Samaria and eventually to the Gentiles. Stephen’s Christlike response to persecution must have made a great impression on Paul who would transform from chief persecutor of the church to its most influential apostle.

It is evident then from Scripture itself that God’s presence cannot be localized, and that no building can confine him or inhibit his activity. If he has any home on earth, it is with his people that he lives. He has pledged himself by a solemn covenant to be their God. Therefore, according to his covenant promise, wherever they are, there he is also. Acts 7.17-50, 139.

Change is painful to us all, especially when it affects our cherished buildings and customs, and we should not seek change merely for the sake of change. Yet true Christian radicalism is open to change. It knows that God has bound himself to his church (promising that he will never leave it) and to his word (promising that it will never pass away). But God’s church means people not buildings, and God’s word means Scripture not traditions. So long as these essentials are preserved, the buildings and the traditions can if necessary go. We must not allow them to imprison the living God or to impede his mission in the world. Acts 7.54-60, 143.

Chapter 8 records the first steps in the church moving out from its Jewish roots to becoming multi-cultural. With Philip’s ministry to the Samaritans, validated by the Spirit and witnessed to by the preeminent Jewish apostles, God's kingdom has now grown beyond just Jews. This is followed by Philip’s witness to the Ethiopian eunuch which extends the Gospel to a Gentile God-fearer. Now the stage is set for full extension to the Gentiles. Who will God raise up to do it?

Effective evangelism becomes possible only when the church recovers both the biblical gospel and a joyful confidence in its truth, relevance and power. Acts 8.1-40, 144.

Initiation into Christ, according to the New Testament, is a single-stage experience, in which we repent, believe, are baptized, and receive both the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, after which by the indwelling power of the Spirit we grow into Christian maturity. During this period of growth there may indeed be many deeper, fuller, richer experiences of God; it is the insistence on a two-stage stereotype which we should reject. Stott, Acts 8.25, 154.

He regards the Ethiopian’s conversion rather as another example of the loosening of bonds with Jerusalem (foreseen by Stephen in his speech) and of the liberation of the word of God to be the gospel for the world. It is especially significant that this African, who had gone to Jerusalem to worship, was now leaving it and would not return there. Acts 8.27-29, 160.

Chapters 9-12 record the preparation for the great missionary outreach to the Gentile world which will proceed from Antioch and be the main focus of Acts 13-28. The first step in this is the conversion and commissioning of Paul who would become the “apostle to the Gentiles.” Paul had been specially chosen by the Spirit for this task.

The risen Lord had appeared to Saul. It was not a subjective vision or dream; it was an objective appearance of the resurrected and now-glorified Jesus Christ. The light he saw was the glory of Christ, and the voice he heard was the voice of Christ. Christ had interrupted his headlong career of persecution and had turned him round to face in the opposite direction. Acts 9.3-9, 170.

The cause of Saul’s conversion was grace, the sovereign grace of God. But sovereign grace is gradual grace and gentle grace. Gradually, and without violence, Jesus pricked Saul’s mind and conscience with his goads. Then he revealed himself to him by the light and the voice, not in order to overwhelm him, but in such a way as to enable him to make a free response. Divine grace does not trample on human personality. Rather the reverse, for it enables human beings to be truly human. It is sin which imprisons; it is grace which liberates. Acts 9.3-9, 173.

It is not only that converts must join the Christian community, but that the Christian community must welcome converts, especially those from a different religious, ethnic or social background. There is an urgent need for modern Ananiases and Barnabases who overcome their scruples and hesitations, and take the initiative to befriend newcomers. Acts 9.26-31, 178.

But we should never be satisfied with a person’s conversion. That is only the beginning. The same grace which brings a person to new birth is able to transform him or her into Christ’s image. Acts 9.26-31, 180.

The next step was the opening of the Gospel and power of the Spirit to full Gentiles. The story of the conversion of Cornelius is told from multiple perspectives so that there can be no doubt that the inclusion of Gentiles within the church, without them becoming Jews, was the plan of God from the beginning. There are no more racial boundaries within the Kingdom. Jesus is Lord of all.

The emphasis is that Cornelius’ Gentile nationality was acceptable so that he had no need to become a Jew, not that his own righteousness was adequate so that he had no need to become a Christian. For God is ‘not indifferent of religions but indifferent of nations’. Acts 10.23-48, 190.

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus were more than significant events; they also constituted the gospel, which he commanded us (the apostles again) to preach, in the first instance to the people, i.e. the Jews. But the scope of the gospel was universal. So the apostles were also to proclaim him as ‘Lord of all’ (36), as judge of all and as Saviour of all who believe.  Acts 10.23-48, 191.

The fundamental emphasis of the Cornelius story is that, since God does not make distinctions in his new society, we have no liberty to make them either. Yet, tragic as it is, the church has never learned irrevocably the truth of its own unity or of the equality of its members in Christ. Acts 10, 197.

Chapter 11 records the aftermath of the conversion of Cornelius. The Jerusalem church needed to be prepared for the mission to take the Gospel to all the world. First, the objections to Gentile inclusion needed to be removed. Peter’s main response to the objectors was that “God did it,” “How can we oppose God?” The outcome: Not only does the church cross over to accept Gentiles, but they are received without first converting to Judaism. This would be the wedge that would break the church from non-Christian Judaism.

Is it because the word ‘Christ’ was constantly on their lips that the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch (26b)?...Although it does not seem to have caught on initially, since elsewhere it appears only twice in the New Testament (Acts 26:28 and 1 Pet. 4:16), it at least emphasized the Christ-centred nature of discipleship. For the word’s formation was parallel to Herodianoi (Herodians) and Kaisarianoi (Caesar’s people); it marked out the disciples as being above all the people, the followers, the servants of Christ. Acts 11.25-26, 205.

Chapter 12 records the final preparation of the Jerusalem church to take the Gospel to the nations. James is killed and Peter imprisoned. It looks like outside persecution will destroy the church. But God intervenes and frees Peter in answer to the fervent prayer of the church. The point is that nothing can stop the gospel from spreading. The rest of the book of Acts will record the powerful movement of the Gospel all the way to Rome.

Here then were two communities, the world and the church, arrayed against one another, each wielding an appropriate weapon. On the one side was the authority of Herod, the power of the sword and the security of the prison. On the other side, the church turned to prayer, which is the only power which the powerless possess. Acts 12.5-19, 208–209.

The chapter opens with James dead, Peter in prison and Herod triumphing; it closes with Herod dead, Peter free, and the word of God triumphing. Such is the power of God to overthrow hostile human plans and to establish his own in their place. Tyrants may be permitted for a time to boast and bluster, oppressing the church and hindering the spread of the gospel, but they will not last. In the end, their empire will be broken and their pride abased. Acts 12, 213.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Aftermath of Tropical Storm Bavi

SAMSUNG            I was supposed to fly down to Chuuk today to meet with church and education leaders there but my flight was cancelled because of high winds at the airport. I am now scheduled to fly down to Chuuk tomorrow morning. I was disappointed not to go, but it did give me some time to take some pictures of what the tropical storm did to some of the trees in our yard (left).Bavi (6) PIU Alumni Coordinator Billy Edwin also took some pictures of minor tree damage on the PIU campus (right). We are thankful that no structures sustained damage. We pray for our roofs every time there is a windstorm of any kind. The airport was a mess this morning after a weekend of cancelled flights. The line I was in this morning twisted around through two levels of the terminal. I am praying that I get out tomorrow morning.

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Our driveway (left) was littered with broken branches and leaves. The trees in the backyard had some broken and stripped branches

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The tree behind the guys’ dorm lost a major branch. The potted plants in front of the admin building also took a beating. I heard the storm is dissipating. We are very thankful.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Goldingay on God’s “Vision” in the OT

Goldingay2I am continuing to work through Volume 2 of Goldingay’s, Old Testament Theology, Israel’s Faith and posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays. There will be a link to the blog posts on my Facebook page where you can comment.

Chapter 5, The Vision, discusses the message of the prophets that, despite the nightmare that was the narrative history of Israel – faithlessness and exile, there is still hope for the future. God has a plan and a vision for the future of the nation. The nightmare is not the end. God has a vision that provides “symbols to the imagination” and provides new hope for the nation’s future.

The first section is about Hope and its Bases. Hope does not lie in the situation of the nation but in Yhwh’s character and promises. Hope is in Yhwh’s character. grace and compassion, and in his longstanding promises of a future for Israel. The writings of the prophets provide light in a dark and horrible time by revealing Yhwh’s future intention to bless the nation. He owns and rules the land and will return to rule over and take care of it.

Hope lies in Yhwh. It lies in Yhwh's longstanding and present purpose and intention, in Yhwh's honor, grace and compassion, in Yhwh's holiness and rights over Israel, in Yhwh's return to the people and Yhwh's insistence on reigning in its life and in its world. 351

This grace will express itself in compassion. That does not merely mean that Yhwh shows sympathy for the people. Yhwh is not merely someone who comes alongside people and comforts them in their affliction, but someone who removes the causes of affliction. 354

Christians do often speak of their activity as working for God's kingdom or as designed to further God's kingdom or extend God's kingdom. The New Testament never uses such expressions. The only thing Jesus' followers do for God's kingdom is announce it and suffer for it. 368

The reason for hope is that God will do the work of Transforming the People. The nightmare was caused by faithlessness so God must change the heart of his people. He must rebuild the “marriage commitment” that has been broken. He will do this by making his healing presence accessible to his people. This will result in the moral renewal of the nation, repentance and a reaffirming of the covenant. But this will be a “new covenant” which will transform, forgive and make fruitful the hard hearts of the nation. Israel will become what God intended from the beginning.

Healing (Deut. 32.39) is one of the First Testament's more embracing images, as it is in the Gospels. It suggests the breadth of God's concern for people's bodies and spirits. Healing is a wide-ranging image for God putting things right that were wrong... Healing would include both forgiveness of sins an deliverance from the effects of sins, both the sins of Israel and of others. Indeed, the healing of all creation is in view. 377

Forgiving people is one of the most powerful and creative acts human beings ever undertake or that God undertakes. Perhaps it is the fact that Yhwh's restoration of them involves not holding their past unfaithfulness against them that will bring about the people's inner renewal, changing their attitude to Yhwh and winning them at last to acknowledge Yhwh. 386

The prophets recognize that renewal is not merely a matter of changing individuals. Individuals are part of communities and are decisively shaped by their belonging to communities. God would not be satisfied with merely changing individuals as if individuals were self-contained entities that could, for instance, serve God separately from their being part of a community. God chose Israel as a people and wants to turn Israel as a people into an entity that glorifies God. 394

The third section deals with Israel's Response. God reaches out to Israel and they must respond with trust and obedience. Israel must accept God’s discipline and trust that God will restore them (which is not always a given in the short term). Trust involves reverence for Yhwh despite doubts, acknowledgment that God loves them despite the difficulties, trust that God will give life and restoration. Real repentance happens when the sins are owned, God is seen as being right and reparations for sin are offered.

So Yhwh's taking the risk of turning back to Israel needs to be met by Israel's turning, its willingness to accept discipline and face shame and come to trust and revere Yhwh rather than anyone else. Israel needs to acknowledge who Yhwh is and who it is. It needs to see the dynamics of the process whereby things can be put right between it and Yhwh and they can move on. 395

The experience of disaster, escape and captivity will impel such reflection that recognizes what these events say about Yhwh. They are not merely the acts of a judge; indeed arguable a judge would not be so harsh. They are the acts of someone who is heartbroken. And this realization also leads to people's recognizing the loathsomeness of their behavior. 406

For if we cannot accept God's word of grace, it is doubtful whether we have accepted God's assessment of us as wrongdoers. Our self-critique may be simply another expression of our pride, a way of evading God's assessment. If we accept God's Yes, it is a sign that it is truly God's No that we accepted. 410

When the people repent the result will be Renewing the People. The people will re-established and their fortunes will be restored. They will be rebuilt and replanted in the land. They will again belong to Yhwh as his people and again be a part of his plan for future blessing. God will make the return from Babylon a greater, complete Exodus which will result in a reunited, numerous people with a new eternal covenant. God’s Word assured that Cyrus would make the decree to return from Babylon and that the full restoration would happen in the future.

Yes. Yhwh has taken them far away from the sanctuary, but Yhwh has become a scaled-down version of a sanctuary for them in their exile (Ezekiel). It is a bold metaphor. Yhwh is capable of being present with the people far away from Jerusalem, as if Yhwh in person were the sanctuary...Further, exile will not be the end. Scattering will give way to gathering. 421

God can act in the future only in ways that take forward what God has done in the past. This new act will be an expression of God's faithfulness. The new "does not annihilate the old but gathers it up and creates it anew."... "The new thing is the surprising thing, the thing that could never have been expected."  426

When Yhwh does not make any decisions, this does not mean nothing happens, as the pointless and aimless nature of most of world history shows. But when Yhwh decides to speak, declaring that something is to happen, Yhwh's word is the effective causal agent in deciding what happens in the world. It makes things happen. 437

This will result in Renewing the Land. After the exile the land will have had its sabbaths and be ready to be fruitful again. The land will become a great place to live, a place of peace and abundance because the spirit is poured out on it. Yhwh loves his land and will not leave it a wilderness forever.

The promise to Abraham and the deliverance from Egypt are the determinative factors for Israel's destiny... The land is one Yhwh cares about passionately, and it will become a place for a full life, a place characterized by peace and flourishing. 439

The psalm's (72) vision of the faithful exercise of authority, of the protection of the weak, of shalom and the associated flourishing of nature was hardly ever realized in Israel,as it is not realized in the United States or Britain. Isaiah (11) once again affirms that this will not be the end of the story. 443

When the First Testament speaks of the land, it indeed refers to the actual land of Canaan, but when we look at the promises associated with this land, "our gaze is necessarily directed to the paradise lost and restored which is to be the dwelling place of this people, to the miraculously renewed earth upon which this people will some day live amid the other happily and peaceably united peoples...The one land is waiting for the other." 449

With the renewing of the land comes Renewing the City. As the people are blessed Jerusalem will be the city that becomes the center of Yhwh’s rule of the world. The purged city will be renewed, resurrected, repopulated, expanded, protected, secured and become the example of good government. Through its rule the purpose for all of creation will be fulfilled. It will become a shining city that becomes the focus of the world.

The holiness of the temple will extend in a new way through the entire city. (Zech 14.20-21)... The distinction between the everyday and the sacred disappears...It means Yhwh making the whole city holy 452

The new Jerusalem will be like a microcosm of a new cosmos. It will be as if Yhwh has determined to undo all that went wrong about the original creation and start again, not with a paradise garden but with a new garden city, a place that is a joy to Yhwh and a joy to his people. History will be over and creation's purpose will be realized. 461-462

When that light dawns, the nations will recognize what real light is. It is splendor of another league, because it is Yhwh's splendor that is dawning in this city (Is 60.1-3). The nations will recognize the tawdriness of their power, prosperity and splendor and come to admire the real light that has dawned, the splendor of the new Jerusalem that the vision of Isaiah 60 describes. 471

This leads to Renewing the Monarchy. A new king, through whom Yhwh will rule, will bring universal peace. He will rule in the power and with the wisdom of the Spirit. He will restore and protect the poor and marginalized as Davidic shepherd with the strength of Yhwh. He will be a “new shoot from an old tree.” He will not rule to gain power for himself but to humbly serve his people.

Yhwh declares this intention in the context of the failure of the monarchy while it still stands, and again in the context of the fall of the monarchy. There will be a king who comes as a new David, and new shoot from the old tree, one through whom Yhwh rules, who brings shalom, on whom Yhwh's spirit rests, who acknowledges Yhwh, who stands as a shelter from the storm, who shepherds faithfully, who before Yhwh can combine forcefulness and weakness. 476

Reverence for Yhwh generates insight, insight generates reverence for Yhwh.482

Proper acknowledgement of Yhwh (for a king or government) involves taking the necessary aggressive action to protect and deliver the weak and put down the people who take advantage of them. Only when that has happened is Yhwh acknowledged. Ultimately that acknowledgement is certainly destined to characterize the world as a whole (Isaiah 2.2-4) 484

(Zech 9.9-10) This is a king who knows how a relationship with Yhwh and with life works. It embraces faithfulness but weakness, deliverance and ordinariness. This king knows that "the king does not find deliverance through his great army" and that "the horse is a falsehood for deliverance." (Ps 33.16-17)

There will also be Renewing the Priesthood. The future of Levi and the priesthood is assured through God’s forgiveness and recommissioning. Goldingay points out the original intention of God that all the nation be priests and sees this prophecy as fulfilled in the universal priesthood within the church.

As is the case with the monarchy,in light of its failure one might have expected that Yhwh would simply abandon the idea of priesthood, and the failures do not need to be taken into account. But Yhwh abandons neither. 491

Joshua's challenge (Zech 3) is to fulfill the ministry in light of Yhwh's instructions. It is on that basis that he must exercise authority in the temple. And if he does that, he will have access to the court of heaven before which he stands on trial, like a prophet...There will be tricky decisions to be taken, but he will have the resources to make them. 496

There is a more radical promise, though one in keeping with Yhwh's original vision. As is the case with kingship, the first time Yhwh mentions priesthood in connection with Israel, it is the whole people that is the priesthood. (Ex. 19.6). 503

Goldingay concludes by asking Is the Vision the End? He answers it with a no. There is always an afterward as God will continue to grow and bless his people. After the return from Babylon there is still another return for God’s people. After the final great battle there will be another great restoration in which all of God’s promises will be confirmed. Christ is the confirmation that all of God’s promises of final blessing will be fulfilled.

In First Testament faith, thinking about the interim end is dominated by the notion of calamity, but thinking about the ultimate End is dominated by the theme of restoration, renewal and the fulfillment of the creation project... There is thus an "afterward" following on each interim end, as well as an "afterward" to follow on the ultimate End. 505

The problem of our causing a separation is a problem about the church, not about the non-Christian world. It refers to the way the church comes to be identified with the world and thus on the wrong side of the separation distinction, looking from a distance at what it is supposed to be, but separated from that. It finds that God's face is turned away to avoid listening to its prayers. 509

(2 Corinthians 1.20) suggests a different perspective on Christ's significance. He does not so much fulfill God's promises as confirm them. His life, death and resurrection are the ratification of these promises...The prominence of God's promises in First Testament faith makes clear that an orientation to the future consummation of God's purpose is intrinsic to biblical faith. 515

PIU Days–Field Games

SAMSUNG            Saturday morningSAMSUNG            we hit the field for a morning of games and fellowship. Thank you Bayview Baptist Church for letting us use your field. It was a very breezy day but the rain from Tropical Storm Bavi held off to give us a cool, dry day to play our games. We also enjoyed a good lunch together from Jamaican Grill. Here are a few pictures of the Game day.

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The “flour war” teams were pumped up and ready to face each other

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The Owen grandkids managed to enjoy themselves too

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Lunch was great even though the wind made sure that a lot of it hit the ground. Nailynn (left), StuCo president, had a good handle on the event

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3 Way soccer was a very popular game

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The egg tossers lined up

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A great effort in the tug ‘o’ war

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And then volleyball in the evening at PIU