Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week of Nov 30-Dec 6

Sunday, November 30, 2008
John 1:35-42
John 12:20-22
Psalms 34,96,100
Isaiah 38

Monday, December 01, 2008
Luke 23:26-38
Revelation 8:1-13
Psalms 1,2,3,4,7
Isaiah 39

Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Luke 23:39-43
Revelation 9:1-12
Psalms 5,6,10,11
Isaiah 40

Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Luke 23:44-49
Revelation 9:13-21
Psalms 119:1-24, 12,13,14
Isaiah 41

Thursday, December 04, 2008
Luke 23:50-56
Revelation 10:1-11
Psalms 18:1-20,18:21-50
Isaiah 42

Friday, December 05, 2008
Luke 24:1-12
Revelation 11:1-10
Psalms 16,17,22
Isaiah 43

Saturday, December 06, 2008
Luke 24:13-35
Revelation 11:11-19
Psalms 20,21,110,116,117
Isaiah 44

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Revelation 5 --- Linger there, please

Revelation 5 is part of our assigned reading for Wednesday, Nov. 26th. I urge that we each linger there, not worrying greatly about the symbols we might not understand, but sharing in the wonder of that which is clear.

John the Revelator's vision includes a scroll, "sealed up with seven seals" (v. 1). A strong angel can't himself open the scroll and can find no one who can.

(Sometime do a study of mighty things angels in Scripture do -- increasing the wonder of seeing here an angel who can't himself open the scroll and who can't find anyone "in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth" -- v. 2 -- who can).

When John sees that no one can be found who is "worthy" to open the scroll he "weeps and weeps" (v. 4).

Twenty centuries of discourse has provided no firm agreement about what was written on the scroll or why John felt so overwhelmed with sadness that no one worthy to open it could be found.

Your humble correspondent thinks the scroll contained all the hopes and dreams, all the possibilities of man who has lived since Adam and Eve in a fallen world where hearts are irreparably broken by the separations caused by sin, including the "final" separation brought by death.

I think of the countless hordes of men and women, boys and girls who have, with all their great promise and the pure wonder of their humanity, failed in pursuit of their dreams, and who have been divorced from each other and even from themselves by sin and then death. As a minister I've often been called on to preside in the breakup of marriages, the dissipation of lives addicted to substances and, far too often I've presided at the gravesides of people whose passing left broken hearts and lives. Always I've wept.

The possibilities were always great, the hopes real, many times the dreams palpable. But the Great Sadness has been overwhelming.

The solution to the hopelessness is written on that closed scroll. So John wept and wept because he knew that -- and now he in a vision from God sees that no one can open it.


But wait! One of the elders in heaven said to John, "Stop weeping and Look! Look!!" (v. 5). There is one who has overcome and who can break the seals and open the scroll to all our hopes, our dreams, to life, to holiness.

The elder pointed John the Revelator (and you and me) to a sacrificial lamb which had been slain.

John saw the Lamb take the scroll in hand and then followed a scene of such grandeur we weep again -- this time tears of the greatest joy.

1. Four living creatures (previously described in the Revelation) and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, worshiping. Among that which they held in their hands as they lay prostrate before the Lamb was bowls of incense which "are the prayers of the saints" (yours? mine?).
Their song is in vv. 9, 10. I urge you to linger there, especially.

2. Then the chorus was joined by "myriads and myriads, and thousands and thousands" of angels. Their addition to the song is in v. 12. Linger again.

3. Finally, "every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them" joined the chorus. Their contribution is in v. 13. Again, linger.

The four creatures kept repeating, "Amen! Amen." And the elders who I suppose were now standing, beholding the wonder, fell down again and worshiped.

That scene will be played out. We anticipate it longingly as we deal with our disappointments, our brokenness. And in faith we join the chorus of praise even now -- praising him who alone is worthy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Week of Nov 23-Nov 29

Sunday, November 23, 2008
Luke 22:47-53
Revelation 3:7-13
Psalms 118,145
Isaiah 31

Monday, November 24, 2008
Luke 22:54-62
Revelation 3:14-22
Psalms 106:1-18,106:19-48
Isaiah 32

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Luke 22:63-71
Revelation 4:1-11
Psalms 120,121,122,123,124,125,126,127
Isaiah 33

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Luke 23:1-5
Revelation 5:1-14
Psalms 119:145-176, 128, 129, 130
Isaiah 34

Thursday, November 27, 2008
Luke 17:11-19
2 Corinthians 1:3-11
Psalms 147, 145
Isaiah 35

Friday, November 28, 2008
Luke 23:6-12
Revelation 6:1-17
Psalms 140,142,141,143
Isaiah 36

Saturday, November 29, 2008
Luke 23:13-25
Revelation 7:1-17
Psalms 137,144,104
Isaiah 37

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Week of Nov 16-Nov 22

Sunday, November 16, 2008
Luke 22:1-6
Revelation 1:1-8
Psalms 66,67,19,46
Isaiah 24

Monday, November 17, 2008
Luke 22:7-13
Revelation 1:9-20
Psalms 89:1-18,89:19-52
Isaiah 25

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Luke 22:14-32
Revelation 2:1-7
Psalms 897,99,100,94,95
Isaiah 26

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Luke 22:24-30
Revelation 2:8-11
Psalms 101,109,119:121-144
Isaiah 27

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Luke 22:31-34
Revelation 2:12-17
Psalms 105:1-22, 105:23-45
Isaiah 28

Friday, November 21, 2008
Luke 22:35-38
Revelation 2:18-29
Psalms 102,107:1-32
Isaiah 29

Saturday, November 22, 2008
Luke 22:39-46
Revelation 3:1-6
Psalms 107:33-43, 108:33
Isaiah 30

Wednesday, November 12, 2008



1. Keller is hopeful that some readers will have read to this point in his book and are "ready to explore what it means to put ..... faith in Christ" (p. 227). He emphasizes to such readers that "motivations are always mixed" (p. 227). What is in context the importance of knowing that.

1. A person can't wait to seek God until his motives are wholly pure -- simply because they never are. One who is intrigued by the possibility of faith must begin at a real time and place, not an idealized time/place. 2. The appropriate motive for the Christian ultimately is (and will be as one grows in faith) to honor and serve God, not selfishly to have our needs met. But again, we start where we are -- with our own needs -- and grow to where we in time will be. Amazingly, wonderfully, when we do that our needs are infinitely more than met.

2. "The one thing we have no right to do is to respond to him (Jesus) mildly" (p. 230). Why? (Hint: The Bono interview on p. 229). Jesus has unquestionably changed the world and cannot be ignored. And his claims are so great that either he is God incarnate or a "nutcase." Either way, he must be encountered and dealt with as being very significant for everyman.

3. In talking about Flannery O'Connor and her view of Jesus, Keller asserts that there is "no use just saying you (believe) in Jesus unless you let that change your life and affect your view of everything" (p. 230). Relate that to the Bono interview just referenced and put its truth into your own words. (Hint: "Redemption is meaningless unless there is a cause for it in the acutal life we live ......... " (p. 230-231). Nominal Christianity (faith in name only) is dishonest. Again, the option to believe in him "mildly" is not an option. Yet that is what one does who says he believes in Jesus but whose life is unaffected by faith.

4. "Most important of all, remember that becoming a Christian is not simply a matter of ticking off a list of things to believe and do" (p. 232). What does he mean? What is the essential thing which transcends believing and doing? Christianity is finally a relationship with a living Redeemer. There are things one must do, but the defining element in Chrisitanity is knowing Jesus Christ.

5. To what question is Keller's answer, "I can't tell, and it doesn't matter." (p. 232)? Is someone who was raised in a Christian environment -- but who left it and is now returning to it -- becoming a Chrsitian or being restored as a Christian.

6. Why might even "diligent involvement in church and religion ..... need to be repented of ....." (p. 233)? If the motive for the involvement was to put God and others in our debt.

7. Explain the following statement: "Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch". (p. 234). To cling confidently to politics or money or anything which ultimately cannot sustain us is infinitely less valuable than clinging with weak faith to that whidh can sustain us in all things.

8. What relationship is there between Keller's assertion that "Hearts are unruly things" and his advice that we "join a body of believers" (p. 236)? Our lives are always a struggle. We battle ourselves trying to do the right and avoid the wrong. We do best when we are surrounded by others who are engaged in the same struggle.

9. It can actually be dangerous to urge someone to "seek out a church" to which to belong (p. 236-237) because (Keller believes) not all churches are faithful. But he does so urge because to him "there is no alternative" (p. 237). Why? We simply cannot live the Christian life without the encouragement of others. And the institution (not the best word) which provides the only environment where this can happen is the church.

10. What is meant by the phrase "the trauma of grace" (p. 237)?
Grace understood creates a traumatic experience where we see our worth and our worthlessness in a single experience.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008



Sunday, November 9, 2008

Week of Nov 9- Nov 15

Sunday, November 09, 2008
Luke 20:9-19
1 Thessalonians 4:9-18
Psalms 93,96,34
Isaiah 17

Monday, November 10, 2008
Luke 20:20-26
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Psalms 80,77,79
Isaiah 18

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Luke 20:41-47
1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
Psalms 78:1-39, 78:40-72
Isaiah 19

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Luke 21:1-6
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
Psalms 119:97-120,81,82
Isaiah 20

Thursday, November 13, 2008
Luke 21:7-19
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Psalms 83,85,86
Isaiah 21

Friday, November 14, 2008
Luke 21:20-28
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5
Psalms 88,91,92
Isaiah 22

Saturday, November 15, 2008
Luke 21:29-38
2 Thessalonians 3:6-18
Psalms 87,90,136
Isaiah 23

Wednesday, November 5, 2008



1. It is usual to think that the burden of proving the reality of the resurrection of Christ is on believers. However, "The resurrection also puts a burden of proof on its nonbelievers" (p. 202). How so? (Hint: see the two paragraphs which begin at the bottom of p. 202 and continue to middle of p. 203). The birth of the church is one of the most startling of all historical occurrences. If it is not explained by the Resurrection of Christ there must be an "historically feasible alternate explanation." The cynic can't responsibly simply dismiss the resurrection as an explanation for the existence of the church without posing something that more reasonably explains it.

2. If the early church was attempting to fabricate a story to substantiate the truthfulness of the resurrection of Jesus "There was no possible advantage to the church to recount that all the first witnesses were women............ The only possible explanation for why women were depicted as meeting Jesus first is if they really had" (p. 205). How so? Their "low social status" made their testimony inadmissable and without weight.

3. What is "chronological snobbery" (p. 206)? How does it at times play into a denial of the resurrection? (Hint: "The very idea of an individual resurrection would have been as impossible to a Jew as to a Greek" -- p. 207). Our culture has its assumptions -- one being that resurrection is impossible -- and we believe the ancients had another (i.e. that resurrection is possible). Thus they were easily duped into believing that Jesus had been raised -- but not us!! We're snobs (guilty of what is also at times called "generational arrogance") who think we're brighter than the ancients.

4. What is the significance of the word "explosion" on p. 208ff? (Hint: It normally takes a (long) period of time filled with discussion and argument to cause a "massive shift" in the worldview of a group of people -- p. 209). The Christian view of the resurrection of Jesus sprang up full blown immediately after the death of Jesus. That is NOT the way worldview shifts usually happen.

5. What possible explanations are there for this "explosion"? That Jesus really was raised from the dead is one. Keller -- and you and I -- are awaiting another from the skeptics (see #1 above).

6. What is meant by Pascal's assertion, "I believe those witnesses that get their throats cut" (p. 210)? Therefore, what is a logical concusion to draw based on the knowledge that many of the early Christians suffered martydom? They truly believed that Jesus had been resurrected -- enough to die for their belief.


1. "That creates a dynamic, pulsating dance of joy and love" (p. 215). What does? Who are the dancers? The idea of the Trinity means that God is himself (alone -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit) relational. He (They) are to a depth and a level unfathomable for us glorifying each other, dancing around each other, focused on each other.

2. The idea of the Trinity is unique to Christianity -- and essential. Without it there can be a concept of a sovereign God, but no adequate concept of love. WHY? (Hint: The wonder is expressed in the phrase which describes loving relationships as the "great fountain ..... at the center of reality" -- p. 216). Love is the essence of relationship with someone else. The great mystery of the Trinity is that God is One absolutely, but distinctly Three. "God is love" -- even without the creation. Without that concept it is possible to view God as powerful and sovereign, but with a belief in the Trinity comes an ability to believe that the essence of God is love.

3. We can never fully discover ourselves except in "self-giving, other-directed love" (p. 217). "Self-centeredness destroys the fabric of what God has made" (p. 217). Explain that in your own words. As God is in his Triune nature, we are because we're "in his image." God is love. Thus love is the fabric from which we come. When we are stationary, evaluating the world and others by how they revolve around and serve us, we're out of sync with the great reality of our best and truest nature. It's when we dance around others, seeking their joy and fulfillment, that we are like God.

4. If God is infinitely self-giving, why "does he ask us to obey him unconditionally, to glorify, praise and center our lives around him" (p. 218)? In his love for us he desires our joy -- a joy he knows can only exist for us in our loving him as we are loved. The Christ on the throne and the Christ on the Cross are the same. He didn't endure the cross so he could ascend to the throne. He did both for the same reason -- because his is relational and the entire basis of his relationship to us is love.

5. "We lost the dance. The dance of joyful, mutually self-giving relationships is impossible in a world in which everyone is stationary, ......." (p. 220). What does our being "stationary" have to do with it? We were made to dance (to constantly revolve around God and others for their joy and glory). When we don't, when we stand and evaluate all around us by ourselves (what's in it for me?), we lose everything that is at the heart of our truest nature.

6. "What was Jesus getting out of" dying for us? .......what benefit did he derive from the Cross (p. 220)? What's the answer. "Not a thing " (p. 220). So what was he thinking? He didn't go to Gethemane or Calvary asking what was in it for him. If there was a question on his mine, it was "What's in it for God, the Holy Spirit and the lost souls for whom I'll die?"

7. The story of the gospel explains everything. (p. 225). What does it explain that leads Christians to do "restorative and redistributive justice wherever they can"? (Moral obligation and justice). What does it explain that causes Christians to "do evangelism ...."? (Man's religiousness). What does it explain that causes Christians to "work sacrificially to strengthen human communities"? (Our profoundly relational nature). What does it explain that causes Christians to "become stewards of the material world"? Our delight in beauty.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Week of Nov 2-Nov 8

Luke 18:31-34
James 5:1-12
Psalms 24,29,8,84
Isaiah 10

Luke 18:35-43
James 5:13-20
Psalms 56,57,58, 64,65
Isaiah 11

Luke 19:1-10
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Psalms 61,62,68
Isaiah 12

Luke 19:11-27
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Psalms 72,119:73-96
Isaiah 13

Luke 19:28-40
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
Psalms 70,71,72,74
Isaiah 14

Luke 19:41-48
1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
Psalms 69,73
Isaiah 15

Luke 20:1-8
1 thessalonians 4:1-8
Psalms 75,76,23,27
Isaiah 16