Wednesday, August 31, 2022

"Structured Terror" As a Marketing Campaign?


                                                        (Underside of our deck umbrella)

When you publish a book, get ready to receive emails and phone calls from people who say they love your book, and find it awesome. They want to market your book, promising sales like you've never seen before. You have to pay them to do this. I get calls from these people every day.

Here's a call that came today. The person left this message, which converted the voice mail to written text. Sometimes this process is inaccurate.

"Hi I'd like to leave a message to John Pico author of the book praying this is published in 2016 and yeah this is John by the way a publishing consultant from Venus magnet and love to talk to you John about this book because I believe this book is a really good potential to to succeed in the literary literary industry and I wanna help you map out and organize structured terror for marketing campaign for it."

If you see me marketing my book through this agency, beware!

Our True Labor

(Monarch, in our front yard)

Labor Day is this coming Monday. A day to rest and recreate from work. 

For followers of Jesus, our true work is all that is done "in the Lord." This brings satisfaction, as we view ourselves working for God, and his greater purposes. 

God's greater purposes have to do with the redemption of his creation, to include persons. Our job may involve making things, selling things, cleaning, teaching, whatever. But our real job involves the bigger, redemptive picture of what God is doing. This is our true labor. 

We see this in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. 

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord . 

"Labor" is "vain" if it has no meaningful purpose. "Vain  labor" is boring. "Boredom" is not having nothing to do, but finding no meaning in what one is doing.

A philosophical example of vain labor is Albert Camus's "Myth of Sisyphus." Sisyphus, according to the Greek myth, was punished for all eternity, condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain, only to have it roll back down to the bottom when he reaches the top. This happens over and over again and again, everlastingly. 

Camus claimed Sisyphus represents the human condition. Sisyphus struggles perpetually, without hope of completion. Such laboring is absurd. Camus thinks if Sisyphus can accept his absurd labor, then he can find happiness in it.

Many experience their labor as absurd. They find no happiness in it. Their work lack telos (purpose), and is in vain. 

But, from the Jesus-perspective, all labor "in the Lord" is redemptive and meaningful. When what we do emerges out of who we are in relationship with Christ, our lives become purposeful. Purposeful, *telic" living, brings satisfaction.

We are to view God as our Employer. From this God-relational perspective, redemptive activity is seen and experienced everywhere. What seem to be vain, meaningless tasks, take on eternal, missional qualities. This happens, not because of any intrinsic majesty of the task, but as a function of who we are under

Labor under the Lordship of Jesus, and abound in the work you are doing under God.

Know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

*telic - a purposeful or defined action; from the Greek word telos, meaning "end," or "goal"; such as teloscope, literally "to see to the end."


In my book I talk about prayer as purposeful activity - Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Deconstructing Progressive Christianity - My 6-Session Zoom Course Begins Sept. 16



Renewal School of Ministry 

Term Offered: Fall 2022 

Course Name: Deconstructing Progressive Christianity 

Course Times/Dates: 1.5 hour Zoom meetings for six weeks, Begins September 19,2022 and meets on six consecutive Monday nights. 

The classes will be live via zoom. 

Course Content

Progressive Christianity is an ethos, a mind set, more than a movement. It is indebted to political progressivism and postmodern philosophy. It has a trajectory, which is secularism. In this course John Piippo explains this ethos, with its corresponding trajectory. He explains the differences between historic Christianity and progressive Christianity, and finds the latter to be a different kind of religion. In the process of deconstruction we see key missing elements, such as atonement theory, the resurrection of Christ, and non-natural realities. The idea of moral and spiritual human progress is seen as a myth, and progressive beliefs about love are examined. In this course you will come to better understand the progressive ethos as it relates to religion, and why progressive Christianity is best understood as distant from historic Christianity. 

Requirements for Credit: To receive credit for the course students will need to: 

• Attend every live Zoom session 

• Participate in the class discussions 

• One absence is permitted as long as the student makes arrangements to watch the Zoom replay. 

Book Requirements: The course will utilize the book Deconstructing Progressive Christianity, by John Piippo, available on Amazon. 

Costs: There is $10 fee to cover costs for taking this course in the Renewal School of Ministry. 

Please enroll for the course/s on our website: . 

Instructor: Dr. John Piippo 

John is a national co-director of HSRM and a pastor at Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe, Michigan. He has a M.Div. degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a PhD in philosophical theology from Northwestern University. John has taught this material around the world in seminaries and conferences. John Piippo, PhD (Northwestern University) (blog)

Prayer and Purpose

(Linda, at Maracas Bay in Trinidad)

I have a friend who loves to work in his large vegetable and flower garden. He talks about needing "garden time." I say to him, "That's your therapy."

Working and laboring for a purpose brings satisfaction. (For example of working for no purpose, read atheist Albert Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus.)

In praying, God gives me work orders. In the praying room with God I receive his kingdom plans and purposes. Purpose grows as I pray in the garden of God's presence.

Presence is prior to purpose. Purpose comes out of prayerful presence. In praying, I hear the call of God to "Go," or "Do." Famously, my doing emerges out of my being.

From God's POV there's no such thing as a small call. To work at a task God has for me results in his plans accomplished, and my emotional and spiritual needs fulfilled. This even applies to seemingly insignificant tasks. For example, I come home and see dishes that need to be done, so I wash them. I love doing dishes. The telos or purpose for me is: it pleases my wife Linda. When she gets home, she notices. I like the thought of freeing up her life. I love Linda, and love sets people free. This is laboring with a greater purpose.

To co-labor with God and his intentions is to work with purpose in life is . This is the heart of true prayer, which is: talking with God about what God and I are thinking and doing together. I want to come to the end of my life knowing God has worked through me to accomplish his desires. That is good. It is a way of loving God, and is therapy for my soul.

Laboring with no sense of purpose is a kind of hell.[1] It is boredom. "Boredom" is not having nothing to do; boredom is finding no meaning in what you are doing. Purposeless work produces inner agitation. It is useless and ill-directed action of the body. As a pastor I am always meeting people who live purposeless lives, and experience constant back-and-forth spiritual agitation.

Jesus told his disciples, “Let not your hearts be agitated[2].” A washing machine has an “agitator.” It thrusts the clothes back and forth, over and over again and again. Spiritually, “agitation is the useless and ill-directed action of the body. It expresses the inner confusion of a soul without peace… All this is the death of the interior life.”[3] 

To work for the goals of money, pleasure, or power is to construct an agitator in the heart. It brings "the death of the interior life." The antidote to this is: dwell, now, in Christ.[4]

In the praying relationship I discover my work. This discovery arises out of a Christ-abiding relationship. This is where the fruit grows and the tasks are delegated. One’s laboring becomes relevant, bringing peace and fulfillment to the soul.

Follow Jesus’ command to abide in him. Allow him to shepherd your soul. A little bit of churchgoing won't help. A few mc-prayers won’t either. Constant abiding will. Out of this Christ-dwelling comes not only his peace and joy but life purpose.

I pray because my work will be purposeful.

[1] On the hellishness of purposeless work see Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus.
[2] ταράσσω,v  \{tar-as'-so} - to agitate, trouble (a thing, by the movement of its parts to and fro); to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of  mind, disturb his equanimity.
[3] Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island, 114-115. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, 1983.
[4] See John chapters 14-16.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Pastors Are Burning Out


Pastors are burning out at unprecedented levels.

The Barna Report is here.

The New York Times article is here.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

God Desires Participants, not Admirers

(Some of our Redeemer kids)

Criticism is the opposite side of the same coin, 
which is admiration. Both concern evaluation.

Soren Kierkegaard writes:

"Is God's meaning, in Christianity, simply to humble man through the model (that is to say putting before us the ideal) and to console him with 'Grace,' but in such a way that through Christianity there is expressed the fact that between God and man there is no relationship, that man must express his thankfulness like a dog to man, so that adoration becomes more and more true, and more and more pleasing to God, as it becomes less and less possible for man to imagine that he could be like the model? ... Is that the meaning of Christianity? Or is it the very reverse, that God's will is to express that he desires to be in relation with man, and therefore desires the thanks and the adoration which is in spirit and in truth: imitation? The latter is certainly the meaning of Christianity. But the former is a cunning invention of us men (although it may have its better side) in order to escape from the real relation to God." (In David Augsburger, 
Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor, 28)

Real Jesus-following is a following-after Jesus, joining in rather than spectating. It's not pew-sitting and being entertained, but "following the footsteps of ChrIst in imitation" (St Francis of Assisi, in Ib., 27). In the early church no one asked, "Did you like the worship?" This is because they were the worshipers. The people were part of the Jesus Movement, not apart from it.

Real Church was never meant to be an entertainment center. David Augsburger says that authentic Jesus-spirituality "accepts no substitute for actual participation." (Ib.) He writes: 

"We are not observers, not spectators, not admirers, not onlookers, not conceptualizers, but participants. Participation is the central theological framework of all careful thought-about spirituality...

...The ideal of discipleship as participation through the imitation of Christ is a recurring theme, reemerging wherever the practice of following Jesus in life is given priority." (Ib.)

Anyone who claims to belong to Jesus must follow the path taken by Jesus. 
Jesus is looking for disciples, for participants, not an audience of admirers or critics. (

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Church of Michael Jordan, By Brandon Robinson


[Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The real, flesh-and-blood Michael Jordan, who demonstrated great success at the game of basketball, is NOT “starting a church,” as I describe in this work of fiction. I use his name and personality in this story because he, in his life and person, provides an example of someone who represents a high standard.] 

The Church of Michael Jordan

By Brandon Robinson

One day Michael Jordan, the greatest person to ever play basketball, out of the love and grace of his heart, decided to start a church.

For basketball.

It would be his church. He would be the honored, worshipped, central figure. He would bring into his presence starving masses and rookies who hungered to play basketball as Michael did. He would show them the way.

First, he had to get the word out: “Michael Jordan will show you what basketball is.” He appealed far and wide, on billboards, on television, and on social media. “Join my church and spend time with me.” He added a promise: “Join the Church of Michael Jordan, and you, too, will be able to play basketball like Mike.”

His efforts were successful. On the first day of services, his facility was packed, standing room only. Many rookies came from far and wide to know the wisdom and truth about this sport. The service was stirring. But how would such a transformation in character and ability happen?

Then Jordan announced, from the pulpit, “Abide in me, and you will grow into great basketball athletes. Spend time with me. My love, wisdom, and ability will be given to you, and you shall do the things that I have been doing. Perhaps, even greater things."

The audience of rookies, who had gathered from playgrounds, schools, and broken homes, with dead dreams, wounded hearts, and messed up perceptions of what basketball actually was, cheered energetically.

Over the following weeks and months, Michael Jordan and his followers played many games of basketball together. He got to know the rookies who believed in him and loved him. He took the game off the court, and started meeting and coaching his followers, one on one.

To one follower he said, “Your free throws are sloppy. You need to improve.”

To another follower he said, “What you’re doing on defense, isn’t actually defense. Do it this way.”

To another follower he said, “You are a lazy player and my pet dog could run circles around you. Get your heart in the game.”

To another he said, “You are playing recklessly, without respecting your teammates. You have to cooperate.”

And so it went, on and on. His followers loved him for the wise words, corrections, wisdom, and even his rebukes. With this tenacious love of Michael Jordan, they were growing closer and closer to playing real basketball, to becoming real basketball players. 

One day, he was speaking with a follower. He said, “I see in you a heart for basketball. You could be one of the greatest the world has ever seen. You have the talent. You have the heart.  But, you must change your entire understanding and approach to the game.”

The follower looked at Michael Jordan and said, “I am going to play basketball the way I want to play it. There is nothing wrong with me. Thank you for welcoming me into your fellowship. But stop being so critical and holding up such a high standard of basketball. There is nothing about me that I or you need to change.”

Michael Jordan looked at the follower with tear filled eyes. “My love changes you,” he said. “But maybe you’re not interested in changing. I release you to play the game on your own terms. But it will be fake, and, while gratifying at times, unfulfilling compared to the truth I offer you. If you don’t want to change, then you are not my disciple. All who love what I do keep my commands." 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

"Arsenokoitais" (ἀρσενοκοίταις) in 1 Timothy 1:10 (et. al.)

I'm re-posting this for some friends. In response to this. The fallacy in this argument is that New Testament scholars pay far less attention to how a Greek word was translated historically (in various versions of the Bible) then how the word was understood in its first century context. We study words in their original context so as to understand their meaning. How, e.g., a particular German Bible translates a word is largely irrelevant. Or, how the King James translates a word is largely irrelevant to the scholarly discussion of the meaning of the text.

The intra-Christian discussion on the acceptability of same-sex marriage inevitably goes to the meaning of the word arsenokoitais. Someone asked me about this, again, recently. It is, arguably, the intra-Christian dialogical issue. Because Jesus-followers value highly the biblical text. (Note: everyone has their sacred authoritative texts, even atheists. For Jesus-followers this means the words and ideas of Jesus.)

Note: David Gushee, in Changing Our Mind, has a chapter called "Two Odd Little Words." The two "odd little words" are arsenokoites and malakoi. Note how Gushee spins the discussion by the chapter heading he uses. His conclusion is that these are "two obscure Greek words whose uncertain translation renders use of them for the LGBTQ issue problematic." (p. 74)  (Progressivist Christian Colby Martin, in an act of ad hominem denigration, calls them two "goofy" words. See my book Deconstructing Progressive Christianity, p. 163. For a broader discussion see pp. 163 - 168.)

Yes, I read the entire chapter in Gushee. No, I have not changed my mind about these two words. Nor have Michael Brown, N. T. Wright, Ben Witherington, Craig Keener, Richard Hays, D. A. Carson, Andreas Kostenberger, Robert Gagnon, et. al. Precisely because, for four decades of studying the "two odd little words," I remain with these scholars. These two words - like it or not - disaffirm same-sex sexual relationships. Because I believe that, and books like Gushee's are unconvincing to me, I continue to affirm this: marriage is between and man and a woman. It would be inauthentic for me to say otherwise.

See also Greg Johnson, Still Time to Care. Especially chapters 14 and 15, where Johnson goes in-depth on arsenokoitais and malakoi, plus he digs into hermeneutical issues.


We read in 1 Tim. 1:9-11:

9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

The Greek word translated here as "homosexuality" is arsenokoitais (ἀρσενοκοίταις). In the Christian theological discussion about homosexuality there is debate over the meaning of this word. This sends me running after commentaries and scholarly studies about this term. Here's what four of my most admired New Testament scholars say. But first, a few remarks. (Arguably the most thorough study of arsenokoitais is in Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, pp. 387 ff.)

1. My interest is: What does the biblical text say. My interest is not: What would I like the biblical text to say. I'll admit to often discovering things I wish the text did not say because, for example, it severely confronts or challenges me. So be it. This is not always easy. I wrestle with the biblical text every week preparing for Sunday mornings. Note also: My core interest is not what various Bible translations say (KJV, NIV, etc.). No New Testament scholar looks to (in the sense of dependence) on translations of the Bible, but to the original languages, and the socio-cultural, socio-rhetorical context.

2. It's easy to find persons who support what one might like the text to say. I know there are scholars with contrary opinions. What, then, shall I do? My answer: look to scholars I have found credible over the years. I am not always in agreement with them. But when they speak, I am listening.

3. I also read scholars I admire who argue against what I think the text says. (See, e.g., the Gagnon-Via book below.) One must read the counter-arguments to one's position.

4. Remember that most (nearly all) words are polysemous; i.e., they have multiple meanings. For example, 'bear' can mean 1) to carry (a load); 2) to endure; 3) an animal (noun); et. al. That in itself does not make the word 'bear' exceptionally "tricky," or any "trickier" than translating a word like arsenokaitais.

5. I expect this discussion will only interest those who embrace Jesus and follow after him. For all of us in this camp, issues like this are important. And, of course, there's a whole lot more to following after Jesus than this issue. Over the years I have dialogued with many homosexually oriented Jesus-followers who want to know what the text says, more than what do others think it says. That, too, has always been my passion.

6. And... homophobia is a sin. Can we discuss, in love? 

Here we go...

Ben Witherington

"The word [arsenokoites] literally and graphically refers to a male copulator (cf. Sib. Or. 2:73; Greek Anthology 9.686), a man who has intercourse with another man... It is true that this term can refer to a pederast (an older man who has sex with a younger man or a youth), but the term is not a technical term for a pederast; rather, it includes consenting adult males who have sexual relationships in this manner, as well as any other form of male-to-male intercourse." (Witherington, Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, Volume 1: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John, 198)   

Some want arsenokoitais to mean "pederasty." Witherington thinks that, while it can, in the Pauline context this is not what it means. Remember: words are polysemous, having mutliple context-dependent meanings.

Andreas Kostenberger

Kostenberger has a lengthy section on arsenokoitas in God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation (with David Jones). After summarizing various views on the meaning of arsenokoitas, Kostenberger concludes:
  1. "In light of the discussion of teaching in the Old Testament and the book of Romans above, it appears very unlikely that what is universally condemned in the Hebrew scriptures might, in New Testament times as well as ours, be acceptable." Arsenokoitas most likely refers to "the general practice of homosexuality."
  2. "It appears like that the term arsenokoitas, which does not seem to appear in the extant literature prior to the present reference, was coined by Paul or someone esle in Hellenistic Judaism from the Levitical prohibition against males "lying or sleeping with males" (Lev. 18:22...). This suggests that the term is broad and general in nature and encompasses homosexuality as a whole rather than merely specific aberrant subsets  of homosexual behavior." This is important since some want to make arsenokoitas refer specifically to pederasty.
  3. The argument that Paul's use of arsenokoitas refers to pederasty falls short on six counts: a) There was a clear and unambiguous word for pederasty, the term paiderastes; b) "The attempt to limit Paul's condemnation to pederasty... is contradicted by Paul's reference to the male partners' mutual desire for one another in Romans 1:27"; c) "In the same passage in Romans 1:26, Paul also condemns lesbian sex, which did not involve children, so that an appeal to pederasty does not adequately account for the prohibition of same-sex relations in this passage.";  d) "Even if (for argument's sake) Paul were to censure only pederasty in the passages under consideration, this would still not mean that, as a Scripture-abiding Jew, he would have approved of homosexuality as such. Quite the contrary. In contrast to the surrounding Greco-Roman world (which generally accepted homosexual acts). Hellenistic Jewish texts universally condemn homosexuality and treat it (together with idolatry) as the most egregious example of Gentile moral depravity."; e) "Not only is Paul's view of homosexuality as contrary to nature in keeping with the foundational creation narrative in Genesis 1 and 2, but it is also illumined by prevailing views of homosexuality in contemporary Greco-Roman culture." (See the entire text for much more on this); and f) "Ancient sources do not support the idea that homosexuality was defined exclusively in terms of homosexual acts but not orientation." Paul refers to both. Some scholars erect a false dichotomy between the two, and then use the false dichotomy to reason that the concept of "homosexuality" has changed, thus arsenokoitas should not be translated as "homosexuals."
For "these and many other reasons" Kostenberger concludes that attempts to limit arsenokoitas to "a narrower subset of aberrant homosexual behavior must be judged unconvincing."

Richard Hays

In The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics, Pauline New Testament scholar Hays writes:

Arsenokoitai "is not found in any extant Greek text earlier than First Corinthians. Some scholars have suggested that its meaning is uncertain, but Robin Scroggs has shown that the word is a translation of the Hebrew mishkav zakur ("lying with a male"), derived directly from Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 and used in rabbinic texts to refer to homosexual intercourse. The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) of Leviticus 20:13 reads, "Whoever lies with a man as with a woman [meta arsenos koiten gynaikos], "they have both done an abomination." This is almost certainly the idiom from which the noun arsenokoitai was coined."

See also Hays's article "Homosexuality: Rebellion Against God." Hays tells the story of a homosexually oriented Jesus-follower named Gary. Gary was dying of AIDS and visited Hays while he was still able to travel. They discussed together, and Hays writes:

"[Gary] had read hopefully through the standard bibliography of the burgeoning movement advocating the acceptance of homosexuality in the church. In the end, he came away disappointed, believing that these authors, despite their good intentions, had imposed a wishful interpretation on the biblical passages. However much he wanted to believe that the Bible did not condemn homosexuality, he would not violate his own stubborn intellectual integrity by pretending to find their arguments persuasive.
The more we talked, the more we found our perspectives interlocking. Both of us had serious misgivings about the mounting pressure for the church to recognize homosexuality as a legitimate Christian lifestyle. As a New Testament scholar, I was concerned about certain questionable exegetical and theological strategies of the gay apologists. As a homosexual Christian, Gary believed that their writings did justice neither to the biblical texts nor to his own sobering experience of the gay community that he had moved in and out of for 20 years."

Note: I think Wesley Hill's Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality is an important text in the broader discussion. 

Craig Keener

"Scholars have disputed the meaning of the term translated "homosexuals," but it seems to mean those who engage in homosexual acts, which were a common feature of Greek male life in antiquity." (Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, 464) 

Michael Brown

Brown's chapter on these "two odd little words" is in his book Can You Be Gay and Christian? Brown did his PhD in ancient and Semitic languages at New York University. (Note: I did my PhD in philosophical theology at Northwestern University. My dissertation was on the semantics of metaphorical language as referential to religious experience.)

See Bennett's A War of Loves, Appendix 1.

Robert Gagnon

An important text to read, for any who are interested, is Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, by NT scholars Robert Gagnon and Dan Via. Note that while Via takes the pro-gay marriage stance he agrees with Gagnon that if one simply took the biblical texts one could not arrive at that conclusion.

One result of reading this book is that I picked up Gagnon's massive study The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics.  

Here are some reviews of Gagnon's book. It's important to see these lest we think that Gagnon is just some uneducated spin-meister trying to force his own opinion down our throats.

Here are some reviews of Gagnon's book:

"...In its learnedness, [Gagnon's] book in the vanguard of its position and cannot be ignored...." -- Martti Nissinen, University of Helsinki, and author of Homoeroticism in the Biblical World (From the Jacket Flap)

"...the fullest and best presentation of the conservative position....expressing the case same-sex intercourse sympathetically and convincingly." -- I. Howard Marshall, Professor of New Testament, Emeritus, University of Aberdeen, Scotland (Blurb Inside Book)

"...the most thorough examination of the scriptural and theological...perspectives on same-sex relations....a tour de force." -- Marion L. Soards, Professor of New Testament, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (From Jacket Flap)

"Gagnon has offered a learned, judicious, and comprehensive examination of the biblical testimony....fair and compassionate...a major resource...." -- Brevard S. Childs, Sterling Professor of Divinity (Hebrew Bible), Emeritus, Yale Divinity School (From Inside Book)

"Gagnon's book is an extremely valuable contribution to the current debate....I recommend this book wholeheartedly." -- C. E. B. Cranfield, Professor of Theology (New Testament), Emeritus, University of Durham (From Inside Book)

"Gagnon's incisive logic, prudent judgment, and exhaustive research should make this book a dominant voice in the contemporary debate." -- Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P., Professor of New Testament, Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem (From the Back Cover)

"I believe that this volume will become a classic in the ongoing discussion of the church's...response to homosexuality." -- Duane F. Watson, Professor of New Testament, Malone College (From Inside Book)

"I know of no comparable study of the texts and interpretive debates that surround homosexual behavior." -- Max L. Stackhouse, Stephen Colwell Professor of Christian Ethics, Princeton Theological Seminary (From the Jacket Flap)

"No Christian concerned with homosexuality can afford to ignore this book." -- John Barton, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford (From the Back Cover)

"This is a brilliant, original, and highly important work,...indispensable even for those who disagree with the author." -- James Barr, Distinguished Professor of Hebrew Bible, Emeritus, Vanderbilt University (From the Back Cover) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Harshness Polarizes; Gentleness Disarms

                                                                               (Grand Haven, MI)

I begin the day reading from Proverbs 15.

A gentle answer turns away wrath, 
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

Harshness adds nothing to a disagreement.

Harshness subtracts from the truth.

Harshness polarizes; gentleness disarms.

Harshness depletes; gentleness adds.

Gentleness subtracts nothing from a disagreement.

Gentleness provides the atmosphere in which truth can shine.

Avoid harshness. Exude gentleness.

I read this verse from my NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Below it is a link to the following list.

Character Traits in Proverbs 

Traits to be avoided 

  • anger 29: 22 
  • antisocial behavior 18: 1 
  • beauty without discretion 11: 22 
  • blaming God 19: 3 
  • dishonesty 24: 28 
  • greed 28: 25 
  • hatred 29: 27 
  • hot temper 19: 19; 29: 22 
  • immorality 6: 20– 35 
  • inappropriate desire 27: 7 
  • injustice 22: 16 
  • jealousy 27: 4 
  • lack of mercy 21: 13 
  • laziness 6: 6– 11; 18: 9; 19: 15; 20: 4; 24: 30– 34; 26: 13– 15 
  • maliciousness 6: 27 
  • meddling 26: 17; 30: 10 
  • pride 15: 5; 16: 18; 21: 4, 24; 29: 23; 30: 13 
  • quarrelsomeness 26: 21
  • self-conceit 26: 12, 16 
  • self-deceit 28: 11 
  • self-glory 25: 27 
  • self-righteousness 30: 12 
  • social disruption 19: 10 
  • stubbornness 29: 1 
  • unfaithfulness 25: 19 
  • unneighborliness 3: 27– 30 
  • vengeance 24: 28– 29 
  • wickedness 21: 10 
  • wicked scheming 16: 30 

Traits to be promoted 

  • avoidance of strife 20: 3 
  • compassion for animals 12: 10 
  • contentment 13: 25; 14: 30; 15: 27 
  • diligence 6: 6– 13; 12: 24, 27; 13: 4 
  • faithful love 20: 6 
  • faithfulness 3: 5– 6; 5: 15– 17; 25: 13; 28: 20 
  • generosity 21: 26; 22: 9 
  • honesty 16: 11; 24: 26 
  • humility 11: 2; 16: 19; 25: 6– 7; 29: 23 
  • integrity 11: 3; 25: 26; 28: 18 
  • kindness to others 11: 16– 17
  • kindness to enemies 25: 21– 22 
  • leadership 30: 19– 31 
  • loyalty 19: 22 
  • nobility 12: 4; 31: 10, 29 
  • patience 15: 18; 16: 32 
  • peacefulness 16: 7 
  • praiseworthiness 27: 21 
  • righteousness 4: 26– 27; 11: 5– 6, 30; 12: 28; 13: 6; 29: 2 
  • self-control 17: 27; 25: 28; 29: 11 
  • strength and honor 20: 29 
  • strength in adversity 24: 10 
  • teachableness 15: 31 
  • truthfulness 12: 19, 22; 23: 23
(From the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible)

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Letter to My Church on the Book of Galatians


                                                     (Art, by my friend Gary Wilson)

(At Redeemer we are now preaching through the book of Galatians. It's beautiful, and deep! I just sent this letter to my Redeemer family.)

Good morning Redeemer family!
This coming Sunday I am preaching on Galatians 3:23-4:7. In this section there are some big ideas, and beautiful verses. For example, Galatians 3:26-28:
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
I hope you see how 3:28 fits in with the entire Letter to the Galatians.  Let me remind you.
  • There were some Jewish Christians who were saying and teaching that, to be "justified" (made right with God), a person had to also become a Jew (keep the Mosaics laws - dietary, circumcision, etc.).
  • Paul calls that teaching "another gospel." (Gal. 1:6-9)
  • The true good news (gospel) is that what Christ has accomplished on the cross is enough to justify a person.
  • So, a person's justification is by faith, in what Christ has done. Paul pleads wit4h the Galatian Christians - Don't add anything to this, like to be made right with God you also have to be a Jew, or to be made right with God you also have to be a male, or to be made right wit4h God you also have to be a free person.
Here is the theme in Galatians:
Paul, a Jewish believer in Jesus, writes to counter the claims of some other Judeans who were telling the Galatian Gentile believers that they must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to truly belong to God’s people.
That's it.
Please prepare for this Sunday by reading Galatians 3:23-4:7.