Saturday, October 31, 2015

TRACS Conference #2

2015-10-30 17.52.14The TRACS conference concluded today and I can put away my suit jacket and ties for another year. I enjoyed the conference this year with several very helpful and practical 2015-10-30 08.58.49seminars. The theme was “defending a biblical world view.” There were several seminars dealing with the challenges of being a Christian school in a very secular society. One thing that perplexed me a bit was that nobody in the conference defined a “biblical worldview.” It seemed to be assumed that everyone knew what it meant, but I am not so sure that, at least in the particulars, a biblical worldview is so easily defined. I was pleased that several presenters boiled it down to a goal to live and love as Jesus did. I think it was a profitable time for me and I have a lot to share with our people at PIU. I am looking forward to next year in Anaheim.

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I attended a seminar on using social media for marketing the school in the afternoon. The conference concluded with the annual banquet which featured cheesecake for dessert.

Friday, October 30, 2015

TRACS Conference Day 1

2015-10-28 17.28.132015-10-29 08.00.01We just completed the first full day of the TRACS conference. I enjoyed the several workshops on distance education, leadership and worldview formation. This year the conference is at the Hyatt Regency in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. The college presidents’ luncheon was also interesting as we discussed the impact new laws on marriage and abortion rights issues will have on Christian schools. It was also fun to see my friends from TRACS accreditation teams and other people that I see only once a year. The conference will continue tomorrow with more workshops and culminate in the annual banquet tomorrow night.

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Missy and Leila gave me a ride to the hotel yesterday after a lunch at Chic Filet

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Here is the view out of the window of my hotel room on the 10th floor

Thursday, October 29, 2015

On The Road in Dallas Texas

MissyLeila (11)Sunday I left North Carolina for Dallas Texas. This year the TRACS conference is there at DFW. I am writing this from the hotel for the conference where I just arrived today. I wanted to get to Dallas a couple days early to spend some time with my daughter Melissa and my granddaughter Leila. I also had two meetings scheduled. One was with Dr. Ryrie. We are so thankful that his foundation has been a regular donor to PIU. I enjoyed sitting with him for an hour and talking about many people  with whom we share acquaintance and, of course, a little theology. MissyLeila (1)He also gave me some of his books for the library, including a new Ryrie Study Bible. As I left he told me, “I didn’t know much about PIU before so I was giving in the dark. Now I am happy to be giving in the light.” I also met with Voltaire Cacas, the Senior Director of Global Mobilization & Strategic Initiatives for Camino Global. They are a mission that works in the Spanish speaking communities of the world and we talked about the possibilities of them working with PIU. They are already doing ministry in the Southern Philippines so we are just a short flight away. I could post pictures of the meetings but I prefer to post pictures of my granddaughter, so here you go…

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Here is Leila in her Halloween costume. She is going out as Skye from the Paw Patrol. Grandma Joyce bought her the outfit on the left with the same Paw Patrol theme. Note that Missy is wearing her new PIU shirt above

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Reading in Exodus This Week #2 (19-20)

[51ChsiH46qL._SX337_BO1%252C204%252C203%252C200_%255B2%255D.jpg]I am quickly continuing my discussion on Exodus, while reading through the commentary, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory, by Philip Graham Ryken, because Ryken devotes about 200 pages of his commentary to Exodus 19-20. This is obviously the heart of the book of Exodus as God reveals himself to his people and calls them to living out this revelation as the image of God. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

I think there are a couple keys to understanding the 10 commandments. First, as Ryken says, the order is always “gospel first, then law.” The commands are given to an already redeemed, baptized (Red Sea) people. The purpose of the commands is to tell God’s people how to live, not how to come into relationship with God. Secondly, the torah is mainly about instruction as to who God is and thus how we are to live as his image, not a penal law code as Roman law. It contains a law code for the nation of Israel which was relevant for its time, but the eternal value of the 10 commandments is in its revelation of God’s character and thus, how we are to think and act. They also show us how far away we are from being like God and our need for a mediator- as Paul said “a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”

What made God’s people so precious was not their own intrinsic value; it was only the value placed on them by God’s love. They were not precious because of who they were but because of who God was. Exodus 19.1-6, 97

In order to approach a holy and awesome God properly (and safely!), we need a mediator. Jesus is that mediator. He is the mediator who offered himself as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 7:27; 9:26; 10:10). By his crucifixion and resurrection he has delivered us from all the terrors of God’s law and has granted us entrance to the glories of Heaven. Exodus 19.16-25, 520

The 10 commandments reveal the eternal character of God and the eternal covenant calling he places on his people. They are bounded by the command to honor the exclusivity of God as the only God and the call to not desire what belongs to our neighbors. This points out the foundational nature of the 2 great commandments to “love God with all our being (exclusively) and love our neighbor as ourselves. Commands 1 and 10 sum up all the commands in that if we are keeping them we could not be breaking the other 8. In addition, each of these commands invite meditation on how they reveal the character of God and our imitation of Jesus, as Jesus points out in the Sermon on the Mount.

The Ten Commandments display the character of God. They reveal his sovereignty, jealousy, justice, holiness, honor, faithfulness, providence, truthfulness, and love...The law, with all its goodness, springs from the goodness of God’s character. The law is good because God is good, and his goodness penetrates every aspect of his law. Exodus 20.1-2, 527–528

Every commandment is both positive and negative. Where a sin is forbidden, the corresponding duty is required; and where a duty is required, the corresponding sin is forbidden. Exodus 20.3-17, 548

In their widest application, what the Ten Commandments require is not merely our own obedience but also our refusal to participate in the sins of others. More than this, we are called to do everything we can to help others respect and obey God’s law. Exodus 20.3-17, 552

The first command, “you shall have no other gods before my face,” testifies to the uniqueness of the Creator God, his transcendence and the need for exclusive commitment to him. God requires our exclusive covenant commitment to him because it is what we were created for and ultimately is the only thing that will satisfy.

“Love” is the right word to use because the first commandment solidifies the covenant relationship between God and his people. Notice that in this commandment God speaks to us in the singular. God says, “You (individually) shall have no other gods before me (personally).” We do not worship a god but the God, and he wants to have an exclusive love relationship with each one of his people. Obviously in order for this relationship to work, it is essential for us not to share our love with any other god. We must be faithful to the only true God. Exodus 20.3, 560

God is a relational, Trinitarian God and the only way he can be imaged in this world is through the relational people he created in his image. For us to try to represent God in any other way demeans his reputation. This places a huge responsibility on humans in relationship to demonstrate that image in the way we relate to one another.

An idol makes the infinite God finite, the invisible God visible, the omnipotent God impotent, the all-present God local, the living God dead, and the spiritual God material. In short, it makes him the exact opposite of what he actually is. Thus the whole idea of idolatry rests on the absurdity of human beings trying to make their own image of God. An idol is not the truth but a lie. It is a god who cannot see, know, act, love, or save. Exodus 20.4-6, 573–574

“The only legitimate image of God … is the image of God created in his own likeness—the living, thinking, working, speaking, breathing, relating human being (not even a statue will do, but only the human person).” We are not allowed to make God’s image but only to be God’s image. Exodus 20.4-6, 576

Commandment 3 deals with giving honor to the Name or reputation of God. This commandment is broken in two basic ways. First, is being flippant or disrespectful toward God and His name. Second, the command is broken when God’s name is used manipulatively for personal benefit such as false swearing, twisting of scripture or false prophecy (“God told me to tell you!”).

God preserved the honor of his name. By refusing to allow anyone to manipulate him, God demonstrated his supreme and sovereign authority. He showed that he was nothing like the pagan gods, who could be controlled. He alone would decide when to perform a miracle, and he would only do it through his chosen servants. Exodus 20.7, 583–584

Commandment 4 urges us to set aside one day a week to rest, worship and focus on God. This is a sign of trust in God’s providence and in his ability to provide for us. For the nation of Israel, Saturday was set aside as a sign to the nations of their trust in God. Paul and Jesus make it clear that the Christian is free to set aside any day of his or her choice to do this.

We are made in the image of a working, resting God. We still need to work, we still need our rest, and we can still receive the creation blessing of God’s holy day. The main thing that has changed is that we have received a new and greater deliverance. We no longer look back to the old exodus for our salvation; we look to Jesus Christ, who accomplished a greater exodus by dying for our sins and rising again. Jesus is the fulfillment of the fourth commandment, as he is of all the others. The Old Testament Sabbath pointed to the full and final rest that can only be found in him. Exodus 20.8-11, 596

In a clan culture, such as ancient Israel, honoring one’s parents is about honoring the basic authority structure in society. While it does not mean necessarily obeying authority that goes against what God says, it does mean that we should always give proper respect and honor to authority, even as we disagree with it and speak truth to it.

In all of these relationships, “we should look up to those whom God has placed over us, and should treat them with honor, obedience, and gratefulness.” We should do this even when those in authority don’t seem to deserve our respect...Respect for those who are in authority is respect for God because all authority comes from him. Our respect is not based on their personal qualities or professional qualifications, but on the position they have been given by God. Exodus 20.12, 607

The 6th command is about honoring and protecting life. Christians should be all about enhancing and protecting the lives of others. As Paul writes in Philippians we should look out for the interests of other above our own. This precludes hate and violence for personal gain because we should be too busy loving our enemies.

Sometimes all it takes to break the sixth commandment is to do nothing at all...This is the positive side to keeping the sixth commandment. At the same time God forbids us to take life unjustly, he commands us to guard it carefully. We are called to protect life, one life at a time. Exodus 20.13, 622–623

The 7th commandment is about enjoying real, committed love between and husband and wife. It is about depicting the commitment and oneness of the Trinity in our marriage relationships.

God has made us sexual beings to seal the love between a husband and wife. Their sexual union cements their total spiritual communion. Whenever sexual intercourse is divorced from this total life commitment, it loses its true purpose and its highest joy. Exodus 20.14, 630

Commandment #8 is about using things, gifts our good creator God has given us, to serve people. Paul in Ephesians says that the purpose of work is to make sure we have enough to share with others. This is not just about taking stuff that belongs to others, is also forbids the keeping of things that God has given us to share. This is why the Bible talks so often about the dangers of being rich. To whom much is given, much is required.

So at the same time that we are forbidden to take things that don’t belong to us, we are required to use what we have in ways that are pleasing to our God. To put it very simply, the eighth commandment isn’t just about stealing—it’s also about stewardship. Like Adam, we are called to be good stewards of God’s world. Exodus 20.15, 645–646

We are called to be people who “truth in love.” That is we must live lives of personal integrity and transparency. This command especially deals with the issue of truth in relationships. This is why gossip is seen in the New Testament as a sin as dastardly as witchcraft.

If there is one thing God hates, it is the lies that Christians tell to make themselves look more righteous than they really are. Our testimony is that we are unrighteous, that there is no way we could ever be saved apart from the grace of God in Jesus Christ. The real truth about us is that we are so guilty that the very Son of God had to be crucified to pay for our sins. Exodus 20.16, 664

Finally the summary command of the 2nd table is the command to avoid coveting. This is a command to trust God’s gracious provision for life. If one is not wanting what one should not have there will be no reason to break any of the other commands. Sin always starts in the heart. This is why Jesus focuses on lust and hate rather that adultery and murder. This is why Paul despairs of ever being able to keep the law because he knows no one can completely avoid this sin. This is why gratefulness, generosity and contentment are the greatest signs that the Spirit is working in our lives – we can’t maintain that on our own.

Contentment is the positive side of the last commandment; it is the remedy for covetous desire. Contentment means wanting what God wants for us rather than what we want for us. The secret to enjoying this kind of contentment is to be so satisfied with God that we are able to accept whatever he has or has not provided. Exodus 20.17, 674

The good news is that we are not brought or kept in relationship with God by keeping the law. Jesus fulfilled the law for us, paid the price for sin and bring us into relationship with the Trinity through his righteousness. As we walk in the Spirit we grow into this lifestyle which is the image of God in Christ.

We have been justified by faith, not by works, and now we are free to rest in God’s grace. We have come to know God the Father through Jesus the Son, and now we are free to give honor where honor is due. By the love of God we have been delivered from murderous hate, and now we are free to forgive. We have found real pleasure in Christ, and now by the purity of his Spirit we are free to be chaste. All our lies have been exposed, and now we are free to tell the truth. And since we have the provision of Christ, there is no longer any need for us to steal or even to covet. Exodus 20.18-21, 686

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Meet the Tavarez Family

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2015-10-20 19.33.22Today I drove from South to North Carolina. On the way up I met up with an old friend, Mickey Beckham, in Rock Hill SC and then continued up north. While in Columbia I stayed with the Tavarez family. Alex and Dani (4 children: Bekah, Micah, Isaiah and Selah) have been appointed by Liebenzell Mission USA as missionaries to PIU Guam. Our plan is to have Alex work with the Heimbachs in the Student Development department. Their target date for arrival on Guam is Summer 2016. They are now in the process of raising missionary support. It2015-10-20 19.33.57 was good to have some extended time to spend getting to know them and beginning the process of orienting them to the work they will be doing at PIU and to Micronesia. I would appreciate prayers for them for success in support-raising and preparation to serve. Thank you for praying for me as I have been recruiting. I had a chance to talk with several other prospects to come to PIU. We still need teachers, especially teachers who could serve (short or long term) in Chuuk, Palau, Yap and Pohnpei.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Reading in Exodus This Week #2 (7-18)

T51ChsiH46qL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_his week continues my discussion on Exodus, reading through the commentary, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory, by Philip Graham Ryken. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

Exodus 7-18 describe God’s founding of the nation of Israel. As king he defeats their Egyptian oppressors, providing justice for the Egyptian sins against Israel, frees his people and begins the process of preparing them for life in the land he has promised to them. This is done as an entirely gracious act of God choosing and freeing the nation. These acts (deliverance from Egypt, baptism in the sea and proving in the desert) will be recapitulated by Jesus, but where Israel failed to act in trust Jesus will succeed in every way.

The plagues are a "war" between the gods of Egypt and YHWH. Each one strikes at a member of the Egyptian pantheon of deities. The Egyptians and the Israelites needed to learn that YHWH is the only reliable basis of trust and the only true God. God got this message across by a means that would be understood by both groups. As king of Israel God leads them into battle, actually fights the battle for them, and frees them from the oppressor. In doing so he shows his qualifications to be their king and God.

If it teaches us nothing else, the book of Exodus teaches us not to trust in other gods because they will not save us. Exodus 7.14-24, 224.

The Bible teaches that what brings true order and cohesion to the universe is the person and work of Jesus Christ: “For by him all things were created … and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:16, 17). Jesus Christ is the one who holds everything together...This is true not only cosmically but also personally. When your world seems to be out of control, the only stable foundation is faith in Jesus Christ. Exodus 8.16-19, 241–242

Since this is God’s mission, then our commission—the Great Commission that we have received from Christ himself (Matt. 28:18–20)—is to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We proclaim the good news that the sinners of Egypt can enter the Goshen of redemption, if only they will trust in Jesus Christ as their crucified and risen Lord. Exodus 8.20-32, 254

Grant me grace, O Lord, to join Thy consolations to my sufferings, that I may suffer like a Christian. I pray not to be exempted from pain … but I pray that I may not be abandoned to the pains of nature without the comforts of Thy Spirit. Grant, O Lord, that … I may conform myself to Thy will; and that being sick as I now am, I may glorify Thee in my sufferings. Exodus 9.8-12 (quoting Pascal) 278

In chapters 9-11 the plagues reach their climax. God shows the Egyptians that He is God above all the so-called gods of Egypt and especially pharaoh. With the hail storm God gives the Egyptians a chance to repent, acknowledge him and save their livestock which pharaoh refuses. The locusts then take out the base of the economy of Egypt and the darkness strikes a blow at the chief Egyptian god, the sun. The announcement of judgment on the firstborn of Egypt takes out the sun-god's son and provides justice for the Egyptian's infanticide against Israel. The love of the God of justice motivates him to remove the oppressor and save His people.

There is no repentance without the fear of God. We must recognize that more than anything else, sin is an offense against the holiness of God. A confession that acknowledges sin without fearing God is a false confession that falls short of true repentance. Exodus 9.13-35, 287

The practical lesson is that we must take God on his terms, not ours. Discipleship is not open to discussion. When we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we do not make a few concessions here and there; we surrender our whole lives to the lordship of his will. Exodus 10.1-20, 298

The third-century theologian Origen wrote, “What each one honors before all else, what before all things he admires and loves, this for him is God.” By Origen’s definition, we too are idol-worshipers, because there are many things that we honor, admire, and love instead of God. The question is, what do we love most of all? Who is our supreme deity? Exodus 10.21-29, 305–306

The God who sent the plagues against Egypt still rules over Heaven and earth. Since he is almighty, he has the power to help us in every situation. Since he is jealous, we must not rob him of his glory by serving other gods. Since he is just, we can wait for him to judge his enemies. Since he is merciful, he will save us when we cry for help. Since he is sovereign, he is to be feared and worshiped. Exodus 11, 317

Chapter 12 and the first part of chapter 13 tell the story of the First Passover. This commemorates the redemption of God's people from slavery in Egypt and from the sin of idolatry in Egypt; and to their new status as a nation led by God himself as their king. Not only does God provide their just liberation from the Egyptians, but the Passover lamb also points forward to the ultimate "firstborn," Jesus, who pays the price for the sin of all and takes our destruction on to himself. The feast of unleavened bread points to this new start of a new nation protected and provided for by God and the need to leave behind Egypt and its idolatry. The sacrifice included even the Egyptians who were willing to identify with God and His people in covenant. The Passover celebration would be a remembrance and participation in this liberation for each succeeding generation.

The Israelites were as guilty as the Egyptians, and in the final plague God taught them about their sin and his salvation...Alec Motyer writes that “when the wrath of God is applied in its essential reality, no one is safe. There were two nations in the land of Egypt, but they were both resistant to the word of God; and if God comes in judgment none will escape.” Ryken Exodus 12.1-13, 326

God wanted to do something more than get his people out of Egypt; he wanted to get Egypt out of his people. He was saving them with a view to their sanctification; so he told them to make a clean sweep. He commanded them to get rid of every last bit of yeast, the old yeast of Egyptian idolatry. Exodus 12.14-28, 341

The exodus was a victory for God’s people...The Israelites did not leave empty-handed. Though they had lived in Egypt as slaves, they left as conquerors, carrying the spoils of God’s victory. Exodus 12.29-42, 351

By ingesting the whole offering, they were making a total identification with the sacrifice that God had provided for their salvation. It was more than a symbol; it was a spiritual reality. In the same way, the sacrament of Communion makes a total identification between Christ and the Christian, sealing the covenant of grace. What Christ did on the cross is really ours. It is as much a part of us as what we eat and drink. Exodus 12.43-51, 365

We were not made for our own pleasure—or our parents’ pleasure, for that matter. We were made for God’s pleasure, and we will not find joy until we commit our lives to him. Exodus 13, 375

Chapters 14 and 15 of Exodus record the "independence day" for the nation of Israel. God leads them as king into battle and defeats the Egyptian army single-handed. In a way, He baptizes them in the Sea and begins the process that will lead them into the promised land. All this is done by God as a gracious act. Israel's salvation is entirely by God's grace.

It is hard to be still and wait for God. Our temptation is to run away, cry out in fear, or try to fix things on our own. Instead, God orders us to stand our ground. He is our defender, our champion. When we are caught between the desert and the sea, all we need to do is be still and look for his salvation. Exodus 14.1-14, 388

Jesus is the perfect and ultimate Israel. One of the ways God showed this was by having Jesus recapitulate Israel’s escape from Egypt. Later, as the crucifixion drew near, Jesus described his death as an “exodus” (Luke 9:31, literal translation). He was making another connection. Jesus is the new Moses—“worthy of greater honor” (Heb. 3:3)—who leads God’s people out of their bondage to sin and into the promised land of eternal life. Exodus 14.15-31, 398

The Old Testament is the story of God bringing his people to their home in the house of the Lord. This is still God’s plan for his people. The temple at Mount Zion was an earthly symbol of God’s heavenly temple in the New Jerusalem. Every day God is bringing more and more children into his holy dwelling. Soon all God’s people will be there to sing the song that will never end. Exodus 15.1-21, 410

In chapters 16-18 God begins the process of preparing his people to live in the promised land. He tests them through deprivation and suffering in the desert. Just like we are, they are tested by suffering to see if they are willing to trust God in the midst of it. Israel, mostly fails in this test. They refuse to trust God when suffering and refuse to trust God even when he provides for them. However, God's plan will go forward and he will bring his people into the promised land although they will need to wander 40 years in the wilderness until they learn to trust God's promises.

This is an important insight about the sin of complaining. All our dissatisfaction and discontent ultimately is directed against God. Usually we take out our frustrations on someone else, especially people who are close to us... A complaining spirit always indicates a problem in our relationship with God. Exodus 16, 425

If we do not receive the gift of God’s rest, then we are really still working for Pharaoh. Rushing around from one activity to the next, trying to get ahead in life, always working and never waiting (even on Sunday)—this lifestyle comes from the sinful nature. Exodus 16.21-36, 442

In Christ God is for us what he was for Israel—our provider, protector, and ever-present Lord. This is what Paul meant when he said “that rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). In the same way that God was with Israel at Horeb, he is with the church in Christ. Our Lord is our Rock, and we trust in his provision, his protection, and his presence. Exodus 17.1-7, 456

Prayer—especially corporate prayer—is our best defense against the evil one. Exodus 17.8-16, 465

Every Christian has a responsibility to promote good church government. Spiritual leaders do this by leading. Yet sadly, pastors and elders tend to commit one of two errors. Either they are too timid to exercise their true spiritual authority or they try to claim more authority for themselves than they have been given by Christ. Exodus 18, 488–489

Thursday, October 22, 2015

On The Road in South Carolina

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2015-10-21 13.45.24This week I am on the road in South Carolina. I am staying with the Tavarez family here. They will be coming out to Guam, 2015-10-21 14.33.06God willing, next summer. More on that in a subsequent post. I have spent most of my time in South Carolina at Columbia International University. Thanks to my friend, and CIU prof, Joe Le Texier I have been able to speak in three different classes this week and recruit students to teach in Chuuk and Pohnpei. We have had 5 teachers from CIU out at PIU at various times. I had interviews with two good recruits and we will see where God leads on that. I also had the opportunity to have lunch with Steve and Philip Bradley – Got the selfie in the CIU cafeteria with Steve. I was glad to see that they are doing well. I will head back North tomorrow. Thank you friends at CIU. Also note the gas prices here in South Carolina (right – that is $182.9 per gallon!)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Family Time in California

IMG_20151016_080912One of the nice things about doing recruiting and fund raising in California is the opportunity to spend some time with family. After church last Sunday I was able to get over to my brother’s house and spend some time with him and his family before I headed down to Scotts Valley for a meeting with the Gateway missions people. It was good to see Doug, Diane and Taylor and meet their son-in-law and grandchildren (sorry no pictures). IIMG_20151016_080259n Scotts Valley I met with Gateway missions pastor Dan Bowman and worship pastor David Enns. I also met with PIU Seminary Dean, Jim Sawyer and counseling teacher, Jo Romaniello to plan our seminary counseling program. Thanks to Jeff and Christy McKim for a place to stay there. It was good to spend some time with them. After the Gateway meetings I drove up to El Dorado to spend a day and a half at my parents’ place. I got a new phone to take the selfie picture. I am now in North Carolina getting ready to head down to Columbia South Carolina to do some teacher recruiting. More on that later. Do you see the deer in the picture on the right?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Reading in Exodus This Week (1-6)

T51ChsiH46qL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_his week begins a new book of the Old Testament, Exodus, along with a new commentary, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory, by Philip Graham Ryken. I have been posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

Exodus is the story of how God forms the family of Abraham/Jacob into the nation of Israel. They are the nation that is to be God's representative and bring his blessings to the world. God defeats the greatest nation of that day, Egypt, and all its gods to bring Israel back to its land and fulfill the promises given to the patriarchs. God provides them with torah, instructions on how to live to please God and the tabernacle, a palace in which their true king can live with them in relationship. However, the people will refuse God's presence and reject God's torah leading to the need for a future better savior than Moses.

As we study the Biblical history in the book of Exodus, we discover that the real hero of the story is God. God is the one who reveals himself to Moses as the Great I AM. God is the one who hears the cries of his people in bondage and takes pity on their suffering, raising up a deliverer to save them. God is the one who visits the plagues on Egypt, who divides the sea, and who drowns Pharaoh’s army. God is the one who provides bread from Heaven and water from the rock. God is the one who gives the law-covenant on the mountain and fills the tabernacle with his glory. From beginning to end Exodus is a God-centered book, a theological history. 22–23

The book begins with a genealogy to show that God is about to do something significant - create a nation. But he will creates the nation from a group of powerless, oppressed slaves. In a way God uses the racism of the Egyptians to keep Israel as a specific, unique people and a way to demonstrate his saving character and power. At the darkest moment when the forces of evil show themselves in the desire to murder and humiliate, God saves a baby who will become God's instrument to free his people and bring justice to Egypt. Israel will be reminded and called to trust in God who remembers his promise and will act to save. So "we are called to trust God the way a desperate mother once did when she put her heart in a basket and entrusted it to the God who saves." (55)

We are envious, ill-tempered people who stubbornly refuse to follow God. We fail to live up to his perfect standard every day. What we need is the God of Exodus. If he is our God, then he has performed for us a miracle of grace, and we can trust him to save us to the very end. Exodus 1.1-7, 27

Exodus is extremely relevant to us today because we struggle with the same issues the people of that day struggled with. We still live in a world of sin, oppression, racism and prejudice. We still need liberation from sin and its effects today.

Blaming things on ethnic minorities is always convenient because racism is part of our sinful human nature. This is what made it so easy for Hitler to promote anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany. It is why the Afrikaaners were able to use the “black threat” argument to such deadly advantage in South Africa. And it is why each new wave of immigrants—from the Irish to the Indonesians—has faced prejudice upon coming to America. Exodus 1.8-20, 32

Suffering helps us look for our Savior. If we never have any trouble along the journey, we would never have any reason to long for Heaven. Like the Israelites, we need the house of bondage to help drive us to the Promised Land. Exodus 1.8-20, 37

At the very darkest moment of Israel’s captivity—when evil was rampant and the tyrant seemed to triumph—at that very moment God was working in history to save his people. His plan called for a little child to be born in secret and then floated down the river right to Pharaoh’s doorstep. Exodus 1.21-2.10, 50

Exodus 2.11-4.31 describe the preparation of Moses to be the man God used to deliver Israel. First Moses has to learn that he must use God's methods to accomplish God's plan. By killing the Egyptian Moses intends to begin the process of liberation but God intends to do this in a much different way. God then gives Moses a "time out" of 40 years to learn to listen to God and do things God's way. He becomes part of Jethro's family and becomes a shepherd. He needs to learn that God's leaders are servants who are dependent on God and provide for His people in God's ways. Though the Israelites are still in pain, God is about to move to rescue them.

To emphasize the power of the living God, the Bible uses four active verbs: God hears, remembers, sees, and knows. God is really going to do something! Not only did he have a plan for Moses, even in the wilderness, but his plan for Moses was part of a bigger plan that would result in the salvation of God’s people. When people pray, God responds. Exodus 2.15-25, 75–76.

God's leaders also must meet God, be called and be transformed by God. At the burning bush Moses meets and enters into personal relationship with God as they, in a way, exchange names. As Moses is called, he is still thinking in terms of doing God's work by his own personal abilities. He rightly recognizes that this is inadequate. The signs are meant to show Moses that it is God who will do the work of liberation through Moses. The key issue in any ministry is "is God with you."

The point is that God not only knew and cared about the plight of his people but was also planning to do something about it. The story of the exodus is the history of how God rescued his people, working out their whole salvation from beginning to end. In this personal saving relationship God brought them out of all their troubles into a good and happy place. 3.1-9, 86

Moses says, ‘I cannot do this.’ Yahweh responds, ‘You’re not, I am.’ ” Therefore, whatever doubts Moses may have had about his own abilities were totally irrelevant. God had promised to be with him, and “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). Exodus 3.10-15, 93

It is interesting how easily the Hebrew elders accept Moses (at least at first, before things get difficult). All the issues that Moses was so worried about, such of which he was right about, were really insignificant when confronted with the power of God. God was about to free Israel in a way that would demonstrate to the whole world who he really is. He would not only defeat the nation of Egypt, but their gods as well as a testimony to all of creation as to who should be worshipped and where true blessing was to be found.

Yahweh was the God of the past who promised salvation to the patriarchs. He was the God of the present who sent Moses to save his people. And he was the God of the future who would bring them into the Promised Land. Exodus 3.16-4.9, 102–103

We do not serve God on our own, working from our own strength, but rather exercise our gifts in the presence and with the assistance of God. Notice that God never evaluated Moses’ speaking ability. He did not try to tell him that he was more eloquent than he thought he was. Nor did he admit that Moses really was slow of speech and tongue. Instead, he told him the only thing that mattered, which was that God would be with him. Exodus 4.10-17, 118

Israel was the son of God’s choice. At the very deepest spiritual level, the exodus is a story about sonship, about a Father’s love for his only son. Israel’s deliverance is the true history of a loving Father who rescued his children so they could be together as a family. Thus it is not simply a story of emancipation—the release of a slave—but also of repatriation, the return of an only son to his father’s loving care. Exodus 4.18-31, 129–130

The true hero of Exodus is not Moses, but God. This is true of the whole Old Testament. Moses had to learn that victory does not depend on our own abilities, but upon our faithfulness and reliance on God. It took Moses 80 years to learn the lesson well enough to lead Israel and he continued to learn it throughout the wilderness wanderings. It is all about knowing God and letting that relationship transform us.

If we have any questions about what God is doing, we should go ahead and ask! We should not ask impatiently or rebelliously, as Moses was tempted to do, but we should ask. It is much better to talk things out with God than to take them out on someone else. Whether or not God decides to answer our questions, he certainly is not afraid of them. Exodus 5, 166

Exodus is a God-centered book with a God-centered message that teaches us to have a God-centered life. Whatever problems we have, whatever difficulties we face, the most important thing is to know who God is. Exodus 6.1-12, 173

The reason Moses had the wrong expectation was because he misunderstood his calling as a prophet. Moses was a pragmatist. He had a performance-based approach to prophetic ministry. He assumed that it was up to the prophet to get results. If people listened to him, then he was doing his job; if not, he should find some other line of work...The only thing that matters to God is whether or not the prophet is faithful. Exodus 6.13-27, 198.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sunday at New Hope, Vacaville

2015-10-12 03.41.402015-10-12 04.52.13My first Sunday service on this current US Mainland trip was at New Hope Christian Fellowship. New Hope is pastored by my high school classmate Curt Miller. Curt and I reconnected at our 40th high school reunion last year and his church has been a supporting church since then. This was the first time I have ever been to the church and it was great to meet so many good people there who are serious about following Jesus and reaching the world. I was able to share in both services about how PIU is working to do its part to fulfill “the mission of God.” Thank you to our friends at New Hope for your partnership in ministry. I am looking forward to returning.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Fall Trip

12113263_1670727713164397_3264981347686568414_oI am sitting in the airport in Osaka, Japan writing this post. I am on my way to San Francisco to begin my Fall recruiting and fund raising trip for PIU. I will also be attending the TRACS conference in Dallas Texas at the end of the month. I will be spending time in the following states: California, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. My main goal is to recruit teachers, especially teachers who can teach on line, or can come out to Micronesia and teach in the classroom. Of course, if I could find some long term dedicated volunteer teachers that would be ideal – we love retirees. My main goal is to find English teachers who can teach in both our academic and remedial programs throughout Micronesia. Also, I hope to meet with some interested financial partners. While costs are going up, scholarship money from the island governments seems to be going down. We are looking for God to supply scholarship funds for needy students and operating and capital funds for the school.

Here is my schedule for this trip. Would love to see you if I am in your area…

Arrive SFO  Oct 9th

New Hope Church, Vacaville -  Sunday Oct 11th

Seminary Meeting Oct 13th

Gateway Church missions committee Oct 13th

Two days at my parents’ place  Oct 14-15

Fly to North Carolina  Oct 16

Meeting with 2 friends of PIU Oct 17-18

Columbia International University – Teacher recruiting, meeting with potential teachers and speaking in several classes Oct 19-22

Forest City NC Oct 23-24

Fly to Dallas Oct 25

Dallas – Recruit at Dallas Seminary, Meet with potential teachers and a foundation Oct 26-27

TRACS Conference, DFW airport,  October 28-30

Fly to Scotts Valley, California

Gateway Bible Church, Sunday November 1

Fly back to Guam November 3

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

More Stuff We Do on Guam

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Yes we do go to the beach. Joyce goes a lot more often than I do

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We hold the new baby

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More beach pictures

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We work on our house. Joyce’s new project is widening the driveway at Mike and Samantha’s house

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She has hired PIU students Renson and Jones to do the work. We get good reliable workers and they get money to help pay their dormitory rent for the semester

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We take Titus out for a banana-strawberry smoothie for his birthday and the girls find a place to stay cool

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We get to know our new staff at PIU. The Tomasellos (left) are now all here as Jackie and Eli arrived last Thursday. On the right is Nikki Heimbach with Joyce

Tuesday Chapel

SAMSUNGSAMSUNGTuesday’s chapel featured an ever-popular speaker Ricke Harris. Ricke is a missionary-evangelist who spent time as a missionary in Nepal and India and is now stationed on Guam. Ricke keeps us laughing all the way through the message, but manages to get across the message. His focus yesterday was that Jesus is not only the God of the past and the future, but is the God of the present as well. We should be expecting him to be transforming us and doing miracles in our lives now. He gave us a good challenge to trust Jesus for today, not just for heaven someday. We also had the guys from the men's’ dorm lead us in singing and worship.

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A couple more chapel pictures

Fishing Trip

2015-10-04 06.49.10Our speaker for the PIU Equipping Conference, Baxter Kruger, is also a fisherman. So we had to show him some Guam fishing. One of our church leaders, Randy Sablan, graciously took us out on his boat for a morning of fishing. True to form, Baxter caught all the four fish we caught and I caught nothing. Nevertheless it was nice to spend a morning2015-10-04 07.18.46 in a boat out on the ocean with good company. It was something new for me. I think the last time I went fishing on the ocean was when I was twelve. We did (we is appropriate since I took the picture) catch a nice yellow fin tuna which was turned into some very tasty sashimi by the PIU students. The students also enjoyed a fresh fish dinner. Thank you Randy for a good day on the water and thank you Baxter for a great weekend conference.

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That was a very tasty fish.

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The scenery was nice too