Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reading Through Micah

(I saw the hematologist yesterday and now have a testing regimen set up for the next couple weeks. I am thanking God that we can get the testing done so quickly. I am hoping that the tests will reveal an issue that can be dealt with fairly quickly. We shall see. I appreciate your prayers)

Hosea to MicahMicah is one of the best known books of the Minor Prophets because of its prophecy of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem. We will read through it accompanied by The Minor Prophets vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by Harold Shank. A contemporary of Isaiah, Micah follows him in warning Jerusalem of God’s judgment through Assyria and encouraging them with a vision of the future coming kingdom. I am 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…

The book of Micah is a difficult book to organize. Shank organizes the book around three questions that deal with God's judgment, God's presence and God's requirements for relationship. Jerusalem had failed to understand these questions and so was facing God's judgment. Micah preached as the Assyrians began their invasion of Judah and besieged Jerusalem. Hezekiah responded to Micah's prophecy with repentance and reform and the exile was delayed almost 100 years. Micah also prophecies a return and golden far future for Israel.

Presenting a God who both punishes and forgives, Micah explores the nature of the sin that brings judgment, the way God communicates—or refuses to communicate—with humanity, and what the people must do to receive his forgiveness.

Chapters 1 and 2 answer the question “Is God responsible for the destruction we face?” Micah asserts "yes he is." The false prophets counter with the idea that God gives only good but forget that good comes only within the bounds of the covenant and trusting in God's provision. Judgment, generally, comes from the sin of the people who willingly remove themselves from God's protection and receive the consequences of their unfaithfulness.

The LORD’s kingly duties, however, include both blessing and cursing. Someday the LORD will lead his people home from exile; here it is also the LORD who takes them into exile. Israel will not be taken into exile because of the LORD’s inability to prevent it; rather the judgment and exile they experience is the work of their own God. Micah 2.13, 402

Chapters 3-5 answer the question, “How do we know God is with us?” The answer does not come from having many idols or temples, but from a daily walking with God. This is when we see God working in both discipline and blessing. Micah looks forward to a day when God's presence will be clearly seen in a world that keeps covenant. Chapter 5 climaxes the section with God's promise of a future strong Davidic king who will lead the nation to complete its role of bringing blessing to the nation and purging the world of sin and its effects. This ultimately points to Jesus, but each generation in Israel would have been hoping that each new king would fulfill this prophecy.

In Micah’s vision, however, Israel will know that God is with them because they will be walking with him. The other nations can walk with their false gods; Israel will know the true God. Micah 4.5, 413

Whether it is the secular society building its faith on a negative answer to the question, “How do we know God is with us?” or the faith community wondering if their positive answer is correct, Micah’s response is relevant: God does exist. At the moments when we least expect God, Micah confirms God’s presence. Micah 4.11-13, 417–418

The dominating theme of these verses is that the victory comes not from Israel’s military power, but from their king. Their king will seem as powerful as seven shepherds appear to a flock of sheep, as dominating as eight leaders would be to one nation. Micah 5.2-6, 423

Micah 6-7 replies to the last question, “What does God want from us?” (428) In chapter 6 God puts the nation on trial regarding their covenant justice, loyal love (hesed), and humble submission to covenant boundaries (6.8), and finds them guilty. He then calls them to confession which would lead to forgiveness. However, the nation refuses to respond. Micah, in chapter 7, looks around him and sees nothing but deceit and oppression. However, the book ends with Micah reminding himself of God's care and promises for the nation and commits himself to active waiting and trust in God's plan.

With the entire world watching, the LORD puts both himself and Israel on trial in the case of the LORD v. Israel...If anything, the LORD’s words in 6:1–5 are the summation before the jury, but, unlike a trial which ends with sentencing, this judicial scene ends with a call for rehabilitation. Ultimately, the LORD is not interested in punishment; he wants people who will be like him and walk with him. The LORD will punish, however, if Jerusalem does not obey (6:9–16). Micah 6, 428

Even when our attempts to seek and save the lost, to show mercy, or to be servants meet resistance or simply fail, we find comfort in knowing that we travel Micah’s road. Beyond that, we learn from him how to commit our waiting to the mission, to prayer, and ultimately to God. We readily join him at his watchman’s post, seeking the salvation of God. Micah 7, 439

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Following Jesus #4

(Note: I actually wrote this post from Guam a couple weeks ago. I was planning to post it when I arrived in California, but circumstances prevented. Upon arriving, I ended up at the doctor and was preliminarily diagnosed with a “serious” blood disease and told I needed to remain horizontal for most of the day. Tomorrow I start the process of doctor consultations and testing to determine what it is and how to treat it. I am not sure yet when we will be able to return  to our PIU ministry on Guam, but we are in God’s hands. I would appreciate your prayers. I will try to catch up on my posts as I can.)

Following JesusThis post concludes my reading through the New Testament devotional book, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship, by N. T. Wright. The second half of the book deals with important biblical concepts for living the Christian life.  I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. I read this book before, but felt like I needed the encouragement of reading it again. I hope you benefit from it too.

In introducing the chapter on hell, Wright makes three important points. 1) If we desire to punish people there is something wrong with us 2) Many of the passages read by some as passages on eternal state really refer to earthly punishment (Jesus' quote of Isaiah 13 in Mark 13 for example) 3) moving away from God makes us less than human. With this Wright, very tentatively sees the warnings of eternal death as the individual person "ceasing to be human at all" far from relationship with God forever. The corporate danger is bringing a society that is a "hell on earth," which has happened many times in human history which Jesus will end at the 2nd coming. Following Jesus as emissaries of his kingdom on earth is the remedy for both of these "hells."

If I find myself wanting to see someone else in torment, I am plucking from the tree a fruit which is sweet for a moment but bitter for an hour, and which will poison me unless I repent. All too often such desire stems from jealousy rather than justice, from fear rather than fairness, from repressed guilt rather than a longing for the kingdom of God. 78

It is dangerously possible to start reflecting gods other than the true God in whose image we were made. But the other gods are not life-giving. To worship them, and to reflect their image, is to court death: the eventual utter destruction of all that it means to be truly human. 79

Comfort, O comfort my people: our God does not intend that his children should live for ever in exile, he does not wish that we should make for ourselves a hell on earth...let us, in our own day, so turn from our sins, individual and corporate, so worship the one in whose image we are made, and so follow the Image himself, that we as individuals and as a society may live out the prayer we pray, the prayer for hell to be vanquished, and for heaven and earth to become one.  Isaiah 40.1-2, 83

Heaven and Power

The ascension challenges the view of many Christians about heaven and power. "Heaven is God’s space, which intersects with our space but transcends it. It is, if you like, a further dimension of our world, not a place far removed at one extreme of our world. It is all around us, glimpsed in a mystery in every Eucharist and every act of generous human love." (85) Thus, it heaven's power we should be concerned about now and the way toward that is the way of the cross of Jesus, the way of His love. This calling is to be lived out in all our human relationships as we live out a "heavenly" kingdom lifestyle now and wait for it to be fully realized when God brings heaven and earth completely together.

The Jesus who has gone, now, into God’s dimension, until the time when the veil is lifted and God’s multi-dimensional reality is brought together in all its glory, is the human Jesus. He bears human flesh, and the marks of the man-made nails and spear, to this day, as he lives within God’s dimension, not far away but as near to us as breath itself. 86

At the heart of the Christian gospel stands the ridiculous paradox that true power is found in the apparent failure, and the shameful death, of a young Jew at the hands of a ruthless empire. Why? Because there are more dimensions to reality than just the ones we see and know in our own space and time. Heaven, God’s space, is the present but unseen reality. And, in that all-important dimension, the crucifixion was not a defeat but a victory. 1 Corinthians 1.18-31, 88

Jesus, at his ascension, was given by the creator God an empire built on love. As we ourselves open our lives to the warmth of that love, we begin to lose our fear; and as we begin to lose our fear, we begin to become people through whom the power of that love can flow out into the world around that so badly needs it. That is an essential part of what it means to follow Jesus. And as the power of that love replaces the love of power, so in a measure, anticipating the last great day, God’s kingdom comes, and God’s will is done, on earth as it is in heaven. 89

New Life and New World

Wright closes the book with a chapter on resurrection and eternity. The hope of Christianity is bodily resurrection into a newly joined heaven and earth. What happened to Jesus at his resurrection is what will happen to his followers. This world will be renewed in the same physical (or a little beyond) way. This should be a motivation for us, not to bring in the kingdom because only God can do that, but to "work for the kingdom." This gives the actions of this life meaning. Finally the resurrection serves as a motivation for holiness and worship.

Resurrection, then, means what it says: not survival, not the immortality of the soul, not eternal disembodied bliss, but bodily resurrection. Jesus seems to have gone through death and out the other side. His new life was not less than physical; but it seems to have had a new dimension to it as well, a kind of transphysicality, humanity with more dimensions added. 93

The resurrection of Jesus is Christianity. And this means that it becomes the starting-point for all Christian thinking and living, challenging all other possible starting-points. This is where Jesus’ followers must orient themselves clearly if they are to follow him truly. 2 Corinthians 5.17, 95

Our humanness is precious; God takes it so seriously that he has promised to bring it out, as it were, in a new edition. Despite what some may say, the real incentive towards genuine holiness, towards taking up our cross and following Jesus, comes not from fear of punishment but from a clear understanding of what it means to be human. And we only get that clear understanding when we grasp the truth of the resurrection. Colossians 3.1-5, 96

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from Dave and Joyce

Below is the Christmas letter that I wrote over a week ago on Guam to be published today. Despite the uncertainty that we are faced with today, I still believe this and we will continue to move forward as followers of Christ. We will begin the year with doctors and blood testing and see where we go from there. Have a blessed and merry Christmas.

Owen Christmas Letter 2016

clip_image002Every Christmas I am amazed by the idea that God Himself actually became a human being. The ancient world had stories of gods taking on human form and, even in the Old Testament, God takes human form to talk with the patriarchs. But as John says "the Word became flesh and lived among us and we saw His glory." The great message of Christmas is that the second person of the Trinity became a human being to communicate God's glory in human form. And not only that, Hebrews 4.15-16 reminds us that the human form (resurrected) is something that Jesus took on for all eternity as our great high priest who ushers us into the presence of God.

clip_image004This is what Joyce and I are doing as we "incarnate," by the power of the indwelling Spirit, Jesus into Micronesia through the relationships we have here. As Joyce teaches English, bakes cookies, grows gardens and lives her life before the PIU students, she incarnates the glory of God to them. As I teach Bible, preach and administrate the school, what is done in the power of the Spirit ministers and communicates that glory to our PIU family. (John 17.21-23) It is nothing unique to us. It is the calling of every Christian.

clip_image006We are thankful to you that your support and prayers enable us to show God's glory and work for God's kingdom in Guam and Micronesia. My prayer for you is that you will see God's glory even more clearly in 2017 and that you will communicate God's glorious character with your actions and words to everyone around you. What God does in the heart and life of a follower of Jesus is a tremendous miracle. Thank you for allowing us to share that, as imperfectly as we do it, in this part of the world.

May your hearts be filled with Joy as you meditate on what God has done for you through Jesus Christ.

Blessings and Merry Christmas,

Dave and Joyce

Pacific Islands University

172 Kinney's Drive

Mangilao, Guam 96913,

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Reading Through Obadiah and Jonah

Hosea to MicahWe now move into two of the shortest books of the Minor Prophets, Obadiah and Jonah, accompanied by The Minor Prophets vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by Harold Shank. Obadiah is a prophecy of the doom of Israel’s historical enemy, Edom. Jonah turns prophecy on its head as Jonah’s prophecy fails to happen and Jonah gets very angry with God because He is so gracious to the Assyrians. I am 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…

Obadiah is brief book directed at the nation of Edom. The prophet calls the nations to battle against Edom because their sins of pride and self-sufficiency have turned them away from God and against God's people. Instead of helping Jerusalem, they joined her enemies in committing atrocities against her. God's principle of justice is that "what you have done to others, God will allow to be done to you." The book ends with a reversal in which God's people will, not only receive back their own land, but will possess that of their enemies as well.

Instead of suggesting vengeance, Obadiah points to coming justice, that certain deeds must be punished (cf. 2 Thess 1:5–10). Obadiah lists the evil deeds done by Edom against Israel for which God will seek justice. According to Obadiah, justice will be done not only because of their evil deeds, but because of their self-sufficiency and pride that prompted their betrayal. Obadiah, 304

Despite the way things looked when Edom betrayed Jerusalem, on the coming day of the LORD even the mountains of Esau will be ruled by the LORD. To all despised peoples who feel powerless to throw off their oppressors, the final promise offers hope that one day the LORD will govern, allowing all the dispossessed to “possess” (vv. 17, 19, 20) their lands again. Obadiah 19-21, 322

Jonah is a most unusual book among the prophets. It contains the prophet’s actions rather than his words and ends with an open-ended question. While Jonah is trying to avoid the Abrahamic command to bless the nations he ends up blessing the sailors and the Ninevites. Jonah reminds us, humorously, that, our responsibility is to use God's blessing to bless others.

Jonah argues against any who decide that some person or some people will not respond. Faith appears in the most unlikely places. Jonah, 331

The story begins with Jonah's disobedience as he disobeys God's command to go to Nineveh. He tries to avoid the pagan sailors and God, but the storm and the lot force him to announce his allegiance to God. The only way to  calm the storm is to throw Jonah into the sea and the sailors respond to the miracle by worshipping God. Meanwhile Jonah is saved from the sea by being swallowed by a great fish.

Their promise to the LORD stands in contrast to Jonah’s refusal to obey him. They willingly seek out what he has intentionally rejected. God who calms the storm, showing his power over nature, also moves the sailors to fear and faith (as he will shortly do to the Ninevites), and finally stops the retreat of his prophet. Jonah 1.15-16, 344–345

From within the fish Jonah repents of his disobedience and asks for rescue from the fish. As he asks he is vomited on to the beach and recommissioned to preach to Nineveh. He says only what God specifically told him to say and Nineveh overwhelmingly turns to God. However, this makes Jonah angry and he says that the reason he did not want to preach in Nineveh in the first place was that God might forgive them because that is his character. Jonah typifies the person who is happy to receive God's grace and forgiveness, but is unwilling to extend the same grace to others. Jonah can quote scripture, but he doesn't really understand God's message. 

Just as the sailors and their captain had obeyed the LORD, now the Ninevites and their king obey God. None of this is due to the talent of reluctant Jonah who merely serves as a carrier of the divine message. Jonah 3.4, 353

(Jonah) immediately prays words that appear throughout the OT as the most comprehensive description of the Hebrew God (cf. Exod 34:6–7; Num 14:18; Ps 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4; 145:8; 2 Chr 30:9; Neh 9:17; Nahum 1:3; Joel 2:13). He is a God weighted more toward grace and forgiveness than punishment and judgment. Jonah 4.1-2, 357

The God who had presented Jonah with a fish and a vine could also present Nineveh with salvation. No one, not even God’s prophet, has a right to be angry about who receives the grace of God. Jonah 4.10-11, 363

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Chapel

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Christmas Chapel (3)Christmas Chapel (4)Traditionally at PIU, the final chapel for the Fall semester is the Advent Christmas chapel. It gives students and staff the opportunity to move into the Advent mindset before final exams, grading etc. The chapel was also an opportunity to recognize our one December graduate, Michael Gimen (pictures below). The chapel was full of good music and, for me at least, it was a wonderful worship experience. Joyce was certainly well-prepared for it!

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We sang several Christmas carols…

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…and lit the Advent candles

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And gave our new almost graduate a chance to speak to his fellow students

Friday, December 09, 2016

Tuesday Prayer Chapel

Tuesday Prayer Chapel (1)

This is the next to last week of the semester, so that means it is the last week of chapels for the semester. I think it is appropriate to begin the last week with a prayer chapel. We had an opportunity to pray as a united family and then in small groups. I think the prayer chapels are the ones in which I feel the closest fellowship with the students. They share what is going on in their lives and then we get pray together for it.

Tuesday Prayer Chapel (4)Tuesday Prayer Chapel (5)

Here are some of the groups as they were praying…

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Following Jesus #3

Following JesusThis post continues reading through the New Testament devotional book, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship, by N. T. Wright. The second half of the book deals with important biblical concepts for living the Christian life.  I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. I read this book before, but felt like I needed the encouragement of reading it again. I hope you benefit from it too.

The God Who Raises the Dead

Wright now moves into subject studies based on Romans 12.1-2. In the first one he discusses the implications of the resurrection in terms of a "surprising command", "sudden crisis," and a "surpassing God." The surprising command is impossible to keep, "Do not fear." The way God breaks through our fears is by bringing us through crises where we go beyond our own capacity and we see the surpassing resources, love and mercy of God. This is how he brings us to maturity and prepares us to rule with Him.

The resurrection of Jesus issues the surprising command: don’t be afraid; because the God who made the world is the God who raised Jesus from the dead, and calls you now to follow him...Believing in this God means believing that it is going to be all right; and this belief is, ultimately, incompatible with fear. 1 John 4.18, 58

The message of the gospel, the message that the true God is the God who raises the dead, can and does go that deep; and that wherever you may be, and whenever you may hit that rock-bottom sense of despair, the gospel can reach you there too. Indeed, that is where it specializes in reaching people. 2 Corinthians 1.8-9, 60

The true God gives new life, deeper, richer life, and helps us towards full mature humanness, by prising open the clenched fists of our fears in order to give his own life and love into our empty and waiting hands. Psalm 116.8, 61

The Mind Renewed

In this sermon Wright uses the story of Naaman, Gehazi and Elisha to illustrate the message of Romans 12.1-2. An encounter with God causes Naaman to change his thinking about God and thus, change his thinking about what he is doing with his life. The renewing of the mind is this process of knowing God better, recognizing that one's life does not match what God wants, confessing this and working with God to fix it. This is a normal part of the Christian life. Gehazi is a picture of a man moving the opposite way. God, through Elisha, rewards Naaman, but Gehazi gets the consequences of his choices. The renewal of the mind is a lifelong process of encounter with God, compromise, confession and growth.

Our thinking is to be turned inside out when we realize that the true God raised Jesus from the dead and thereby announced to the whole world that he is the life-giving God, the God of generous love, the God who takes the metaphorical leprosy of the world and deals with it. Let the true God renew your mind as you worship and follow his risen Son. Romans 12.1-2, 2 Kings 5, 67

Did Elisha say to Naaman: ‘You’re a half-hearted compromiser, you want your bread buttered on both sides at once, you’re talking out of both corners of your mouth’? No. He said, ‘Go in peace.’ That is the word of God to those who are starting to bring their thinking about God and the world into the straight line that flows from the revelation of the saving love of God in Christ. It is the word of God to those who are starting to follow Jesus, and want to do so more and more. Romans 12.2, 2 Kings 5, 68

The sign of a Naaman, of a glass half full, of a step towards the light, is the sense that in the resurrection the true God has revealed himself to be your God, and has called you to worship him, to straighten out your thinking with him at the centre, and to follow this Jesus along the way. You may have a long way to go. You will have to live for a while ‘no longer at ease’. The change in your life may not be as dramatic as Naaman’s. But if that’s where you start you can take Elisha’s words to Naaman as God’s words to you: ‘Go in peace.’ And in that peace, with your mind renewed by the risen Jesus, start to think straight as you follow him. Romans 12.2, 2 Kings 5, 70


The big point in this chapter on temptation is that temptation uses what is inside you to draw you away from God much more than what is outside you. It will start on the outside, but the flesh, "the human being in rebellion against God, with its pride, self-sufficiency and lies, takes something in God's good world and misuses and abuses it. Even the Satan started out as one of God's servants. The way to beat temptation (a whole life process) is to focus on God's love and sufficiency, and through prayer, fellowship etc, grow into the person God wants you to be.

A serious Christian will realize that sin comes not in the thing itself, but in its wrong use; not in a part of God’s good creation, but in the attempt to use that good creation as though it were our toy, or our trash. 74

The answer to temptation is to find out, perhaps painfully and over a long period, what it is about you that is at the moment out of shape, distorted, in pain. Then one may begin to find out, again often painfully, how it is that God longs to help you to get what is distorted back into focus; to get what is crooked back into shape; to get what is bruised and hurt back into health. 75

To know that I am loved, loved deeply, through and through, gives me the security to reject the ways of pride and fear; to reject the false alternatives of Peter Pan and Eeyore; to choose the way of self-denial which is also the way of self-affirmation, and to reject the way of self-hatred which leads not to holiness but to despair. To know this love, and to act out of answering love, is one of the central features of following Jesus. 76

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Reading Through Amos

Hosea to MicahWe are reading Amos, the 3rd book of the Minor Prophets, accompanied by The Minor Prophets vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by Harold Shank. Amos, according to some scholars may be the first of the OT writing prophets. His message is one of impending judgment on the prosperous Northern Kingdom of Israel. I am 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…

The book of Amos is a series of sermons and visions about judgment on the Northern Kingdom of Israel. These were people who were very rich and very religious, but their worship of God did not lead them to help the poor and needy. They were not concerned with the things that concerned God and this would lead to devastating judgment.

The prophet was also upset about the people’s lack of concern. Amos gave attention to the way people paid no attention. God regarded what they disregarded. God looked into what they overlooked. What they ignored, God investigated. What they despised, God prized. What they disrespected, God respected...They sang with laughter at the oppression of others; God cried with sorrow at the plight of the oppressed. Amos is the expression of God’s concern for his people.  Amos, 204

Amos begins his prophecy with the crimes of the nations around Israel and the resulting sure judgment of God that is coming upon them. His point will be: how much more then will Judah and Israel, God's people, be judged for similar crimes. God judges the nations for violations of international law and custom. He judges Israel and Judah for failure to keep the covenant. with Judah God focuses on idolatry. To Israel, Amos expands his condemnation to 7 sins and 7 punishments for their oppression of their own people in disobedience to the torah of Moses.

The first six speeches concern nations outside Israel and Judah. The LORD’s sovereignty is not limited to his covenant people. Nor is his willingness to punish always connected to his law. The offensiveness of the burning of the Edomite king pressed the LORD to stronger punishment. He is a global God with global focus. Amos 1.1-2.3, 221

The next section 3.1-5.18 contain 3 speeches in which Amos calls Israel to "hear this word" of warning that the covenant curses are about to overwhelm the nation. In chapter 3 Amos calls their attention to the warning signs that are already there, including his presence and the warnings of previous prophets. In chapter 4 he reminds them that the prophets have warned them many times about how they have perverted the worship of YHWH into an immoral, oppressive religious system. Finally chapter 5 is a dirge announcing the death of Israel. There is nothing they can do except "seek God and live" and show it by their actions. They have been playing a dangerous game with the God who created the universe by mixing his worship with that of the idols of the nations.

The wealthy are not condemned for being wealthy, but for ignoring the plight of others and for the responsibility they have in causing poverty. The warning is for anybody who lives in luxury: be aware of how others live and do not burden the poor by extravagance. Amos 4, 237

The idol they worship is their own self-satisfaction. Worship has become an end, not a means to an end. The critique is not about wrong methods of worship but about wrong goals for worship...True worship leads to a focus on God and what God wants, not on self and boastingAmos 4.1-2, 238

Justice and righteousness are like the army and navy, both protecting a nation in their proper sphere. Deuteronomy 15:1–15 explains how helping the unfortunate is not just a matter of law and of paying back what has been given, but of open hearts and open hands. Israelite society failed the Deuteronomy 15 test. Amos 5.7, 247

The speeches of 5.18-6.14 are meant to overturn Israel's false expectations. They expect the Day of the LORD to be a day of vindication (light) but instead it will be a day of devastation and darkness. They expect their worship to make them acceptable to God, but instead their lack of care for their fellow human beings and love of luxurious indulgence causes God to reject their worship. They expect their power and wealth to keep them safe, but they have forgotten that it is God and the covenant that keep them safe. They have failed to evaluate themselves by God's covenant or by listening to his prophet and they will pay the price.

People who cheated in court (5:10), trampled on the poor (5:11), and oppressed the righteous (5:12) would have their sacrifices rejected and their sacred music turned off (5:21–23). What God wanted from his people was justice and righteousness, fairness in court and in the marketplace, and kindheartedness toward one another in every area of life. Amos 5.24, 257

By the mid-eighth century the dimensions of Israel and Judah together lacked but little of being as great as those of the empire of Solomon. Being in the seat of political power made them forget who had real power. Amos 6.1-14 260

Chapter 7 (to 8.3) contains 4 visions and story of judgment. In the first two visions (locusts and fire) Amos intercedes and God relents from judgment. In the final two (plumb line and ripe fruit) Amos serves as the witness that judgment is deserved and is impending on the entire nation of Israel.

Events can be changed by God in response to human pleas. The LORD is not immovable and unresponsive. There is no need to call for anthropomorphism here. God is not like humanity in changing his mind; humanity is like God when it relents and moves in a different direction. Amos 7.1-6, 271–272

The disaster coming to the whole nation would include two of its leaders, Jeroboam the king and Amaziah the priest. The one who failed to lead the people properly will lead them to destruction. The one who attempted to silence the voice of God will himself be silenced by God. Amos 7.1-8.3, 280

The last two chapters describe the devastating judgment that will overtake the Northern Kingdom. They kept the religious regulations but they failed to love God or love their neighbor and instead used the blessings of God to live in luxury and oppress the poor. They would now receive the curses of the covenant as God allowed the Assyrians to totally devastate the land. The book ends with a brief prophecy of restoration for a small remnant who would be part of a future restored Davidic kingdom.

The current section addresses religious hypocrisy that insisted on keeping the religious rules but ignored the principles of social equity. Amos states that the offenders will soon lose the things they enjoy, their secure existence will face upheaval, their celebrations will become times of mourning, their religious sources will fail to supply them with direction, and even the most robust among them will stumble, fall, and never get up again. Amos 8.4-14, 281–282

People who ignored the word of God by oppressing the poor would find themselves oppressed by their fruitless search for what they had earlier spurned. Amos 8.11-12, 286

The God, who had brought them out of Egypt (2:10; 3:1; 9:7), who had chosen them out of all the families of the earth (3:2), who urged them to “seek me and live” (5:4), who even in disaster calls them “my people” (9:10), sees beyond their wickedness. The LORD sees a day, not when they change, but on which he will restore the divided kingdoms (9:11) and offer them unprecedented bounty (9:13–15). Amos 9.11-15, 295

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Staff and Faculty Christmas Party

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PIU Xmas PArty (2) (1024x768)Wow, another year has so quickly passed. For some reason this is what I thought about at our annual PIU staff Christmas party on Saturday night. We always have it early in December before the church Christmas season really begins. This year we had it, potluck style, in the back yard at our home. As usual, the food and fellowship were amazing. Some of our Board members joined us too. The gift exchange was a lot of fun (I kept my coffee so it was a success for me). Joyce and I serve with a great group of people. We are blessed. Here are  few pictures of our PIU family at the celebration. Thank you Hartmut for taking an excellent group picture (above).

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Glenda, Joyce and Stella fill their plates while the Dixon family is already settle in with full plates

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(L to R) Urte and Hartmut Scherer, Greg and Irene Calvo, Nikki and Jonathan Heimbach

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Nino, Gwen and Glenda Pate; Celia, Chloe and Michael Atoigue; Vivian and Iotaka Choram; Jele and Kaki Benejal

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Joyce with… Jesse, Jonie and Jayna; the kids; Kaki celebrating that the clean up is finished

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Juan Flores, Jele and I serious and smiling

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Kid’s Day at PIU

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Kids Day 2016 (6) (768x1024)Kids Day 2016 (9) (768x1024)Traditionally at PIU, the first Saturday of December is Kid’s Day. The event is actually the final exam for the Teaching Youth and Children class taught by Dr. Christel Wood. Christel has been teaching at PIU on Guam since 1995 (and several years in Chuuk before that) and the Kid’s Day goes back to when we moved on to the present campus in 1999-2000. Some of our current students had their first exposure to PIU at Kid’s Days back in the early 2000’s. This year’s theme was “God is Victory.” The games, memory verse, songs, story and project were all built around this theme. This year there were about 85 kids at the event and several PIU students and staff who are not in the class volunteered to help out too.

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The song time received enthusiastic participation, especially the theme song

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After singing, the group broke into three age groups for story time. The story subject was David and Goliath

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The group project was drawing a mural of the David and Goliath story

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The day ended with hot dogs and chips for lunch