Friday, June 16, 2017

This week's lesson (June 10-16): the Day of the Lord

I may need to rethink this whole business of survivalism, a.k.a. "prepping."

Read 2 Peter 3, after all, and you'll find lots of stuff about THE END OF TIME . . .

But not much stuff about bug-out bags.

Or MREs.

Or how to prevent scurvy with spruce-needle tea.

And yes, it tells us to prepare for THE END.

But it does so by urging us to live "holy and godly lives."

To live "peaceful lives that are pure and blameless."

And "to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ."

All of which may be useful in THE END OF TIME . . .

But all of which sound suspiciously like the way I'm supposed to live every day.

Friday, June 09, 2017

This week's lesson (June 3-9): False Teachers

The best commentary on 2 Peter 2:1-22 comes from a Conference President -- one who told me "there are three things that get pastors in trouble: power, sex, and money."

"And since their sexual problems usually grow out of control issues," he added, "this means the three things that get pastors in trouble are are power, power, and money."

"And yes, their money problems also grow out of control issues -- and you know what that means? It means the three things that get pastors in trouble are power, power, and power."

Go -- and don't do likewise.


Friday, June 02, 2017

This week's lesson (May 27-June 2): Prophecy and Scripture

You know the drill:
1. An issue comes up -- could be weddings rings, could be same-sex marriage, could be the age-old question of "Will my dog be in heaven?" . . . but whatever it is, it seems to pit the personal experience of church members against the message of Scripture and/or Ellen White. 
2. A team of theological experts is assigned to look into this issue -- and after much study, a report is issued that explains What Inspiration Actually Says About this Subject (WIASAS). 
3. Upon completion of the WIASAS report, the issue is Official Declared to be Settled (ODS), and the church moves on . . . 
Or not.

Now compare this with what happens in 2 Peter 1:16-20:
1. The author gives his story, i.e. what he actually experienced. 
2. The author gives the message of Scripture, i.e. what it actually says. 
3. And the author explains how he story of his personal experience helps shape his understanding of Scripture . . . AND his reading of Scripture helps shape how he understands his own personal experience.
In short, it's not Personal Experience OR the Meaning of Scripture that is definitive; instead it's the two of them acting on each other in a kind of interpretative dance.

All of which suggests that the issues of our day need more than just a team of experts to tell us What Inspiration Actually Says About this Subject.

No, we also need to hear what all of God's people are saying about this subject, based on God's leading in their lives..

And then we all need discover just how these two messages -- Scripture and Experience -- can both inform each each in our church.

Just like they do in 2 Peter 1:16-20.

Friday, May 26, 2017

This week's lesson (May 20-26): be who you are

What would it be like to have a super-power . . .

But while everyone else has superpowers that are really terrific -- you know, powers like super-strength, supper-speed, or the ability to read minds . . .

Yes, they've all got the kind of super-powers that people want . . .

But your super-powers are kind of lame.

Like maybe you have the ability to communicate with small, household appliances.

Or maybe you can determine the age of rocks by their taste.

Or maybe you just smell good to cows.

So while everybody else is out there battling crime, thwarting villains, and signing movie contracts . . .

You're in a field.

Surrounded by cows.

Talking to an electric can-opener.

About that new patch of limestone, down by the creek.

Lame, right?

But that's the way I feel when we talk about the spiritual gifts listed in scriptures such as 2 Peter 1:5-7.

I mean, here we have the Creator of the Universe -- the Master of Infinite Power, and Infinite Wisdom . . . somebody, in short, who can do a lot better than the Avengers or the Justice Society.

But does He give us X-ray vision?

Does He give us a freeze-ray?

Does He give us the ability to shoot lightning bolts from our fingertips?

No.

Instead, we get things like faith.

Goodness.

Self-control.

Kindness.

And love.

Really lame stuff -- right?

But if the Master of Infinite Power and Infinite Wisdom chose to give us these gifts . . .

Lame as they seem to be . . .

Then what kind of people does this world really need?

What kind of powers should those people have?

And what kind of powers are the most difficult to practice?

Friday, May 19, 2017

This week's lesson (May 13-19): Jesus in the writings of Peter

A true story.

Maybe.

It's 1962, and a heavy-duty theologian by the name of Karl Barth is visiting the heavy-duty seminary at the University of Chicago . . .

And while he's there, a student asks him to sum up his life's work in one sentence.

So he says, "Jesus love me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

And that's it.

That's all he said.

A true story?

Maybe.

But if you were asked the sum up your beliefs in one sentence . . .

Then what would you say?

Friday, May 12, 2017

This week's lesson (May 6-12): servant leadership

1. You can't be a leader if you don't have followers.

2. That's why leaders need to take care of their followers.

3. If you want to be a leader, but you don't want to take care of your followers, then refer back to Rule #1.

-- I Peter 5:1-10 (Campbell's Condensed Version)

Friday, May 05, 2017

This week's lesson (April 29-May 5): Suffering for Christ.

1. Everyone suffers.

2. Try to be one of those who suffer for a good reason.

--I Peter 3:13-4:19 (Campbell's Condensed Version)