Saturday, May 31, 2014

This Week in Proverbs #2 (18-31)

The second half of Proverbs continues the wise advice about how to live successfully in this world in a way that pleases God and maintains the best relationships possible with both good and evil people (and the mixture of the two that is in all of us). Again, I was impressed this time through with the high degree of organization within the book and the need to think about the reason why certain Proverbs were placed together in the collection. Sometimes the author wants us to meditate on observations that seem to contradict and other times he points out commonalities to all our situations that we need to acknowledge to be successful.

The book closes with an epilogue about the “the good wife” which really epitomizes the “wisdom woman” which we are all to pursue. Remember the book was originally written to guide and motivate young men (probably princes) to live and rule wisely, rather than selfishly. Proverbs urges all of us to pursue wisdom with the same fervor that young men and women pursue each other. It pictures life as two paths: two women (prostitute and good wife); one of which promises pleasure but produces trouble and death, the other which advocates hard work and responsibility but produces real pleasure, peace and success. As Garrett sums up the book, “In Proverbs wisdom is not merely or even primarily intellectual; it is first of all relational. The young person finds wisdom through three specific relationships. A man must fear Yahweh, heed parents, and find the good wife. Moreover, one will gain the fear of Yahweh and the good wife in the same way: both are gifts from God.” Garrett, Proverbs, (New American Commentary), 252.

The purpose of these verses is to warn against being too much in love with one’s own words. One should recognize the power of words and use them with restraint. Voicing one’s own views, here ironically described as eating the fruit of the tongue, can be an addictive habit with dangerous results. Proverbs 18.20-21

I have experienced many times the foolishness of saying the “right thing” at the “wrong time.” Wisdom learns from experience when is the time to speak up and when is the right time to “keep your mouth shut.”

Happiness is impossible without domestic tranquility, and the wife is the anchor of that tranquility... She is “from the Lord” in that even the wisest of men can choose a particular woman for the wrong reasons. It is only by divine providence that one’s choice will turn out to have been a good one... the antithesis to the quarrelsome wife is not strictly the submissive wife but the “prudent” wife, implying someone who is adept in all kinds of circumstances and knows how to deal with people.  Proverbs 18,22, 19.13-14, 170.

Celebrating my anniversary this week and then officiating Jesse and Jonie’s wedding has made me very thankful for the “good wife” that God provided for me and the importance for each of our students to find a spouse that is “one” with them in following the way of Jesus and will be their partner in being what God has called them to be.

The main point is transparent: rich and poor have equal standing before Yahweh...the central idea is that those who are well off must never forget that they, no less than the impoverished, are contingent beings who wholly depend on God for life and livelihood. In short, one must live with humility before God. Proverbs 22.2-5, 186.

The Bible is consistent, cover to cover, that one of the key indicators of a church or person that is a real follower of Christ is that they use their resources to meet the material needs of the people around them.

Wealth is a mirage...wealth itself can fly like the eagle and thus can outstrip all attempts to capture it... Cultivating the friendship of the wealthy is a waste of effort...These proverbs contradict the common notion that Proverbs regards the rich as righteous and thus favored by God. To the contrary, wealthy people often are viewed with a marked suspicion, and their company is not always valued. Proverbs 23.1-8, 195–196.

Proverbs is very balanced in its view of wealth as both a blessing and a temptation. Wealth as a goal is idolatry. Wealth as a tool for the kingdom of God is a blessing to everyone.

“Do not get yourself infuriated over evildoers” is more accurate. Those who love the truth are naturally enraged by the effrontery of those who promote or practice godless behavior—anyone who has ever watched the evening news broadcasts has surely experienced something of this. Impotent raging is pointless and unnecessary. Faith in a just God is the only remedy for such misapplied righteous indignation. Proverbs 24.19-20, 199–200.

Our “anger at sin” should motivate us to do something about the things that God has placed in our control and our faith in God should encourage us not to worry about the things outside our control.

Verses 8, 10 describe how unprincipled people try to turn society upside down. They inflame others (v. 8a) and are not averse to resorting to violence (v. 10a). The wise, however, restore order to the streets and the justice system (vv. 8b, 10b)...The point here, as in v. 8b, is that the just set things right.  Proverbs 29.8-11, 230.

Where Jesus goes, through the Spirit, order, peace and reconciliation follow. This is how we really know God is working.

He first challenges the reader to admit that no one has achieved direct understanding of the world and the truth behind the world... Then, with three questions that allude to the creative power of God (and human lack of that power), he implies that no one can explain the metaphysical powers behind the visible creation... Also, since “God” is the only possible answer to the questions here, it is striking that the text speaks of his “son.” Proverbs 30.4, 236–237.

None of us know as much about God or how He works as we think we know. We need to be a lot more humble about our theologies.

The good wife described here has every virtue wisdom can offer. She is diligent, has a keen sense for business matters, is compassionate, is prepared for the future, is a good teacher, is dedicated to her family, and above all else possesses the primary characteristic of biblical wisdom, the fear of the Lord (looking back to Prov 1:7, the theme of the book). She is no less than Woman Wisdom made real. Proverbs 31.10-31, 252.

I thank God that I have wife-partner that can think for herself and possesses these characteristics. I would not want it any other way.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Hartt’s Arrive

SAMSUNGSAMSUNG            We are getting prepared this week for Jesse and Jonie’s wedding this Saturday. The most important part of the preparation happened on Tuesday night as the Hartt family (my sister and Jesse’s mom) arrived at the Guam airport. This is the first time that any of them have been to Guam. We gave them a proper Guam welcome with leis, hugs and kisses. We will be enjoying some family activities along with the wedding as they will be here for several days.


Hugs and smiles


The Hartt family all together on Guam

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

35th Wedding Anniversary

SAMSUNG            Joyce and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on Monday. SAMSUNGAs is our custom, we went for an early dinner to Tony Roma’s in Tumon. This is the third year in a row that we have celebrated our anniversary there. We like ribs and enjoy the view of the beach out the windows of the restaurant. We had a great time and enjoyed the dinner very much. It was nice to sit there for a couple hours and just enjoy some quiet conversation and relaxation. As you can see we had plenty to eat. We also had enough leftovers for lunch the next day.


We had some potato skins for an appetizer and then, when they found out it was our 35th anniversary, the restaurant management gave us a complimentary giant piece of cheesecake. Thank you Tony Roma’s for making our anniversary dinner so pleasant.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

This Week in Proverbs #1–Chapters 1-17

As many of you make know I have been posting quotes and thoughts from morning Bible readings on my Facebook page. You can go here to find them. The last couple years I have also been working my way through the New American Commentary. The last few weeks I have been posting some thoughts on Psalms. This week I began working through Proverbs. This post will be kind of a “best of” quotes from the ones I posted on Facebook with some comments about why they are meaningful to me. Bear with me. I am one of those people who process information by discussing and meditating on the discussion. If you want to join the discussion please comment on my Facebook page.

SAMSUNG            As I read through Proverbs this time, the thing that really “sticks out” to me is the inter-connectedness of people. No one lives in a vacuum and wisdom is gained in a group. God mediates his wisdom through parents, society, the writings of the wise from many cultures and, of course, from the Torah – his instructions in His Word. The purpose of wisdom always has a corporate aspect as well. We become wise to be better in relationships – the vertical with God and the horizontal relationship with everyone around us. You are not wise if you cannot live well with God or the people, including enemies, God has placed in your life.

All quotes are from Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, The New American Commentary.

The Book of Proverbs does not simply attach the caboose of Yahwism to the train of secular, international wisdom. Murphy rightly comments that there is no “Yahwehizing” of wisdom in the Bible. On the contrary, the Lord and the precepts of Israelite faith dominate biblical wisdom as the explicit fount of true understanding and the rule by which all is judged. 54.

God has to be the center of a wise life. This does not mean that all secular wisdom is rejected (all people have God’s image skewed as it may be) but all must be filtered through the revelation of God which reveals its ultimate message in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Wisdom is the fruit of a life rooted in relationship with God.

Perhaps the easiest and most common excuse for doing wrong and falling into trouble is ignorance, that one just did not know any better. That excuse is implicitly rejected here. Proverbs 1.20, 72. 

We all have the capacity, responsibility and mission to learn about God and his creation. Proverbs is full of commands to work hard to search out wisdom.

Laziness leads to inescapable poverty and ruin. Instead of poverty coming “like a bandit” and an “armed man,” it is better to translate v. 11 to say that poverty will come like a “vagabond” and a “beggar.” The point is not that it will attack suddenly, like armed robbers in ambush. Rather, poverty and indebtedness cling to the slothful like incorrigible beggars who always linger about the house and always want more. Laziness will siphon off resources until the indolent have nothing left. Proverbs 6.6-11, 96–97.

Laziness, like many other foolish characteristics, is a bad habit developed by bad practices. The results of these bad habits “creep up” and trap the fool until there is no escape. I am convicted to look at my own bad habits and work to change them even as I am leading an institution that has a goal to instill good work and life habits in young people.

The important point is that wisdom is for ordinary people—she is not confined to the academic classroom or to sacred precincts of the temple. Nor is she high atop some mountain where only the hardiest and most determined will find her. To the contrary, she wants to attract all and be accessible to all. The attainment of Wisdom is not a quest but a response. Proverbs 8.1-3, 106.

This is one reason I love working at PIU. The main thing we do here is allow God to work through our teachers and staff to provide access to God and his wisdom to our students. Real wisdom is taught in relationships and I learn so much through relationship with our faculty, staff and students. We learn hard lessons sometimes, but it is always a blessing to be in this community.

What the hoarder fails to realize, however, is that in the economy of God the greedy ultimately lose even the material things they try so hard to keep while the benevolent only prosper more and more... Those who hoard by refusal either to give (v. 24) or to sell (v. 26) finally face not only widespread hatred (v. 26) but the poverty they dread as well (v. 24). The generous only have greater and greater prosperity (v. 25). 11.23-27, 127–128.

The older I get the more I realize that generosity, hospitality and an openness to help with the needs of others (especially in a context of real relationship with the needy) are probably the most clear indication of a healthy relationship with God. Jesus identified love and unity as the marks of his real church.

Proverbs takes a balanced position; it neither dehumanizes the poor on the grounds that they are to blame for all their troubles nor absolves the individual of personal responsibility. 13.22-25, 140.

This balance can only be achieved in ministry if you actually know and are in close relationship with the people you minister to. Jesus’ mission is not “short-term ministry.”

Religious zeal is no substitute for integrity...Righteousness is here defined primarily as the fear of the Lord and humility (15:33); it is more a matter of motives than deeds and thus excludes self-justification (16:2). Biblical righteousness is fundamentally an attitude of trust in God, an attitude implicitly and explicitly demanded in 16:1,3. 15.8-11, 16.1-7, 152–153.

We need to be just as zealous about “orthopraxy” as we are about “orthodoxy.” This verse speaks strongly against the “celebrity Christian” obsession in the current church world. Why would we listen and contribute to the ministries, even if we agree with their doctrine, of “pastors” without accountability, ridden by scandal after scandal and who live in luxury (paid for by the donations of their gullible followers), and place themselves at the center instead of Christ? Where is their “fear of the Lord” and humility? We will be held accountable for supporting them!

“Better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “richer”; rather “better” simply means “spiritual integrity” (16:19), “temperance” (16:32), and “a life of peace” (17:1). This is part of the message of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:3–12). 17.1, 158.

To reduce “blessings” to only material things is heresy. It misses the real blessings of God’s presence in our lives.

Profundity, not verbosity, is the mark of wisdom. Proverbs 17.27-18.4, 163.

And this is my signal to stop. Smile Many blessings to you!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

View from Fort Apugan


I was officiating a wedding yesterday evening up at Fort Agupan in Agana Heights and I had a few moments before the wedding to enjoy the view and the beautiful evening. A nice breeze was blowing. The temperature was cool. The day was clear and it was just about a perfect evening. The wedding was very nice too.


Here are a couple more from slightly different angles

Alumni Highlight - Kita Mokut

The following is taken from the PIU Summer Newsletter – The Tide’s Currents. If you are on our mailing list you should have received yours already. If you would like to get a digital copy go to or send me an email at ….

imageKita Mokut graduated with a BA in Liberal Studies in May of 2013. Since graduation Kita has spent time with family in Chuuk and worked for several months in Hawaii. Most recently, Kita returned to Guam and is currently being trained by Anne Stinnette, to take over the position of Admissions Coordinator at PIU. Kita says she finds the training to be a “challenging and exciting endeavor”. Most importantly though, she feels blessed to “be home again with my family in Christ” and is excited about the many ministry opportunities before her including mentoring the young women on campus.

The Admin and staff are also glad to have Kita back on campus. Samantha Owen, PIU Instructor shared that, “Kita is a gifted leader and woman of God. I know I speak for many when I say that we are so excited that she can join the staff at PIU”.

(Kita is pictured here with PIU Operations Director Celia Atoigue)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Some Mother’s Day Pictures

SAMSUNGSAMSUNG            Yes, I know Mother’s Day was a few weeks ago. Joyce had not connected her phone to the internet recently and, when I did it for her, I found a bunch of pictures I didn’t know we had. She suggested I start with the pictures we took of our Mother’s Day celebration. Mike, Sam and the kids brought over doughnuts in the morning and we went out for Italian food in the afternoon. Here are a couple pictures.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

First Snake of the Year


As we were coming home from church tonight we saw our first snake of the year on our neighbor’s chain link fence. Joyce must be out of practice because the snake got away. She got her hand on it but he took off like a shot when she touched it. We looked for it for quite a while but it had made a clean get away. A few years ago we were killing 12-14 a year out here, but lately our Guam Brown Tree Snake sightings have been rare.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

PIU 5K Coming Soon

5K Flyer

The PIU Family Fun 2k/5k is coming up soon. The Family Fun Run was originally scheduled for last month but needed to be postponed because of safety issues on Route 15. So, this year we will be doing the run for the first time at Chamorro Village. Registration can be done by phone at 671-734-1812 or you can obtain a registration form by emailing or in person at the sites named on the flyer. This is always a fun time and I am looking forward to it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

This Week in the Psalms #6–(121-150)

ps 150Today my annual reading in the Psalms comes to an end. I will go back to the commentary set I have been reading this year for the section on Wisdom Literature, but I think I will continue to post my own thoughts weekly on what I am reading in addition to the quotes from the commentary. I welcome comments on these posts on my Facebook page (more interactive there) and enjoy the discussion. Every time I read the Psalms I find God ministering to me in a different way than before. This year the big issue for me was to take a “bigger picture” more realistic view of the importance of my life and ministry within the bigger scope of who God is and how big is kingdom is. It does take a lot of the pressure off and, even though, this has been one of the hardest years of ministry on Guam, I find myself able to sleep pretty well most nights!

We look to many things to provide help for life and ministry. But God is the only reliable and constant help. Psalm 121

God's people should be a place of safety characterized by peace, joy, love and good. Psalm 122

The contempt of the self-confident should turn our eyes to God and his grace (not to revenge). Psalm 123

God the Creator assures that, though the floods of trouble threaten to overwhelm us, they will not destroy us. Psalm 124

Despite what it looks like now, God's people will inherit the earth. Psalm 125

The difficulties of life and ministry for the righteous in the present will be blown away by the great blessings of God in his final kingdom. Psalm 126

If your mission and work are not God given and directed, it does not matter how hard you work. Your work will amount to nothing. But the legacy of someone who follows his God-given path will have influence for many generations. Psalm 127

The best thing you can do for your family and community is live for God. Psalm 128

Evil attacks us now, but evil does not win in the end. Psalm 129

God's character to forgive sin and redeem his broken people should be a strong motive and assurance for prayer. Psalm 130

We don't have the qualifications to be God. We are God's dependents and we come to him with trust and hope. Psalm 131

God will keep his promise to put a Son of David on the throne of his eternal kingdom, in which the full blessings of peace will be enjoyed by everyone. Psalm 132

The unity of God's people is evidence of God's presence and a foretaste of his perfect kingdom. Psalm 133

Everyone has an invitation to come into God's presence and worship. Psalm 134

Praise is the proper response to our Creator who calls us into relationship with him and is actively involved with his people and in his creation. Psalm 135

Give thanks to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe because he is intimately involved in relationship with his creation and guarantees its salvation with an eternal covenant. Psalm 136

In the midst of torment and persecution we hope for God's kingdom and we trust him to judge our oppressors. Psalm 137

God's covenant with his people assures his saving and protecting presence with them and, ultimately, his rule through them. Psalm 138

Prayer: God from conception to beyond death you know everything about me. By your spirit help me to know myself and think of myself the way you know me and help me to think of my world with your thoughts and concerns. Psalm 139

Prayer: Lord, protect me from the oppression of evil people and from the temptation to gain from misusing others. Help me to be an instrument to bring justice for the needy and advance your kingdom. Psalm 140

People that tell us the truth about our own evil deeds and words are sent from God to keep us off of a path that leads to destruction. Psalm 141 

In the moments when there seems to be no hope of rescue or success, remember that God can and will deliver, and pray. Psalm 142

God does not hear our prayers and work in our lives because we deserve it. He does it because of his covenant love for his people and his desire to restore his image in us. Psalm 143

It is amazing that we can be in relationship with God. Enjoying his presence as we trust in him is the greatest blessing we can have, and yet, so many other wonderful blessings flow from his presence with us. Psalm 144

It is good to let people know about God's character and actions, because he has been, and will always be there to hear prayers and provide for his people. Psalm 145

Don't follow human agendas because they will fail. Only God's agenda is eternal and it is recognized in this age by its compassion and care for the poor and needy. Psalm 146

It is good to write songs about God because he created and sustains the world, he lifts up the needy and outcasts, and he takes pleasure in relationship with his people. Psalm 147

All of creation should praise God. Only he is worthy of worship because only he is uncreated. All other things that people worship fall short. Psalm 148

Celebrate before God now because he will remove the oppressor and bring justice to this world. Psalm 149

Everyone should praise God with any means, any talent, any media or anything else that he has given to them. Psalm 150

Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 PIU Valedictory Address


The following is taken from the PIU Summer Newsletter….

The class of 2014’s Valedictorian, Jesse Hartt, came to PIU three and a half years ago with some college credit already under his belt. Originally from California, Jesse has family that works at PIU and heard about the school that way. During commencement exercises on May 5, Jesse shared more about this story and his experience at PIU. Read excerpts of his Valedictory speech below.

As Valedictorian, I have the opportunity to represent our graduating class to the families and community around PIU, and to show what truly characterizes the Class of 2014. Given that we have a variety of experiences and educational paths I think I’ll build off the mission of our school which has been present in each of our experiences. Anyone who has heard President Dave Owen speak knows that PIU is here to provide Excellent, Accessible, and Transformational education, but you’ll never understand what that mission looks like until you peer into the lives of our graduates, to see how our lives and worldviews have been transformed from what we knew before into a more Biblical worldview.

In 2010 I graduated from high school in California as an honors student. I decided to apply to any prestigious schools that were close within the state, received acceptance letters from multiple schools, and to my excitement got into one of the most prestigious business schools in Northern California. This is the kind of school that after four years of undergraduate education has an 80% rate of employment within one year of graduation, making $100k a year. In my mind this was the greatest educational opportunity I could possibly get, because I would be able to be financially successful.

We visited the school, but even with scholarships this prestigious school was financially inaccessible. After a semester at the local community college in my town I found myself frustrated with education in general, and considered it a waste of my time. Through connections to PIU, I was talked into moving to Guam for a semester, to experience a new culture and people. My purpose in coming here was travel and a spiritual experience (with PIU being a Christian University), but I didn't really expect a legitimate education or career path. I assumed that PIU didn’t offer what I considered to be a successful education.

Despite my pretenses I began to see that PIU had more to offer than I suspected. My first semester I started to learn the Bible in a way that isn’t secluded from the other aspects of my thinking, but instead how Biblical truth influences my understanding of the entire world around me. I also got connected with a community who’s focus wasn’t to outrank or one-up neighboring schools and communities, but instead to aid and minister to them.

What has really been more educational than the quotations from lectures or the facts that we’ve discovered from our teachers, has been the relational, loving, real, interactions we’ve had with them. Theological discussions seem to be more impactful when over a football game at the President’s home. Science classes become more practical as you search for mollusks under rocks with your biology teacher’s children. Using our education to better serve the community around us is easier to apply when we’ve seen the attitude exemplified by our instructors in the midst of a crisis. The education we graduates have received at PIU has not been one of merely theory, but also of practicality and service.

As Pacific Islands University graduates, we have learned and received the tools we need for the future, but also have received a successful education in the sense of growing as people, and understanding what it means to serve our community, and more importantly, the kingdom of God.

I can truly say that the transformation brought to my life, and also the brothers and sisters sitting around me, is something to thank God for. Education is for the purpose of thinking, looking and acting more like Jesus in our community and occupation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Graduation: Owen Family Pictures

There are a lot of Owen relatives working at and attending PIU. Here are a few pictures.

Joyce and Jesse

Jesse, Jonie and family

More family pictures


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Graduation Celebration

The best part of graduation is after the ceremony as we celebrate with the students and their families. So, as I post every year, here are a few pictures of the celebration

cake (1)cake (5)

PIU Board members John Robertson and Siska Hutapea begin the celebration with the official cake cutting.

Left, with the Lodge family. Right adjusting Jonie’s leis

Big smiles for the camera

Joyce with Sophie, Me with Philip Bradley

Posing with the PIU sign

And again.

Pictures of the Owen family at graduation coming tomorrow.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Graduation Ceremony

SAMSUNG            Here are a few pictures from the actual graduation ceremony. 12 DiplomasSAMSUNG            were given out, the valedictorian made a speech, the graduates sang a song, I gave the “charge, our keynote speaker delivered a great speech (this list is not in chronological order) and I think God, the graduates and the school were honored appropriately. This tends to be the most enjoyable day of the year for me and this was no exception.

From the perspective of the stage


Mike opened in prayer

SAMSUNGProgram (18)

Jesse Hartt gave the valedictory address


Diplomas were presented


The tassels were moved from right to left and then I gave the “charge” to the graduates

Program (16)Program (19)

Clearly they were moved by all the speeches!

Program (17)Program (20)

After they sang a song they marched out and were ready to celebrate as official PIU degree holders