Lost your Life? No problem! Christ has it in safekeeping

To download the entire file click here: SHOGREN_ILE conference 2018, Lost Your Life No Problem Christ has it in Safekeeping

Mark 10:28 – Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

Note: This series was given to students at the Spanish Language Institute in San José, Costa Rica. Most of them were learning Spanish in order to serve God cross-culturally; hence the many references to missionaries and (part IV) to the stress of second language acquisition.

Spiritual emphasis week

Outline:

I. Lose your self, life, identity
II. Lose your family, friends, belongingness
III. Lose your possessions and opportunities
IV. Lose your tongue
V. …only to find them again

 

TEXTS:

Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Mark 10:28-31 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

I. Lose your self, your life, your identity

Introduction

I lost my glasses! I lost my phone! I lost my keys! I lost my wallet! I lost my car, I don’t know where I parked it! I lost my train of thought! Well, such is the human condition; we probably did not lose these things, we just misplaced them.

But what do we do about this extreme language in Mark 10:28 – Peter said to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” Jesus, we have lost our very lives.

That will be our theme is week will be: Lost your Life? No problem, Christ has it in safekeeping (more…)

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Read the Hebrew Torah in 2015-2016!

Some friends and I are going to read through the books of Moses over the next year. We will be follow the liturgical cycle of the synagogue for the Jewish year 5776, with a set portion or parashah every week. This breaks down to a chapter-plus per day.

I will be using Logos 6 with Stuttgartensia as my base text with the BDB lexicon.

Our reading will be exegetical and reflective rather than mystical or kabbalistic.

For those who wish to, we will be using Facebook to post our observations.

Please, this is for people who already are readers of Biblical Hebrew. I need to bring my level up, and so will others of the group, but this is not a course in Hebrew! You can study Hebrew online from many seminaries, and in Spanish from Seminario ESEPA, from May-December every year, online.

The liturgical year begins with Simchat Torah, on the evening of October 5, 2015. Will you join us?

We will follow the full kriyah calendar from Hebcal.com, the Diaspora version.

In addition, here is a full list of the 613 commandments or mitvot of the Torah, as compiled by Maimonides; it is a widely-accepted tabulation.

hebrew-scroll-torah

Are you kidding me??

My name is Gary, and I am a recovering compulsive kidder. Yes, it’s true. No fooling, I mean it.

Probably my ultimate attempt at “pranking” took place at the university. See, what happened is, I managed to get my hands on some official college stationary. I didn’t boost it, by the way! It seems to me that we found it in the trash. Anyway, I used it to write a fake letter to a student who had previously pranked me; in the letter, the department told him he might be getting suspended for being so immature.

Just kidding!

Just kidding meme

Another incident: years back I plotted out what would have been my definitive prank. A nearby Christian ministry was thinking of buying a piece of land, and it got me thinking: I started designing a mock-up for an “old newspaper article”, which was to recount how the property was the site of an old Indian burial ground and that, well, there was a long history of spectral appearances. I was going to stain it with some tea to age it, and then “discover” and share it with the purchasers at some point during the negotiations. And shortly afterward, of course, reveal it as a gag. But, I decided to wave it off. The Indian Burial Ground Prank was, I realized, beyond the pale even for me – I had finally found my limit. Or perhaps hit bottom. There are other anecdotes, but I think I’ll just hold off on telling them.

But those were years ago. Really, I don’t do that stuff anymore. Still, long after I stopped launching these weapons-grade pranks, I was still known as a “kidder”, and this is the gist of my confession here. (more…)

Grading exams: a work of the light, or a work of darkness?

A word to my fellow-teachers:

It’s time to correct essays and exams. It tops the “Favorite Things to Do” list for very few people. I tell my students, “Don’t slide your paper in the bottom of the pile, because I’ll probably have an attitude by the time I work my way down to it.” I’m just glad I can pull it off in 3-4 hours this term.

Nevertheless.

Nevertheless, if we are teachers, then it is certain that GRADING is part of God’s call to us today. It is sacred work. It is priestly service. It is good.

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“But the Greek REALLY says…” Why Greek and Hebrew are not needed in the pulpit, Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 I offered one individual’s philosophy of Expository Preaching without Ancient Words:

  • I use the biblical languages, virtually daily. [1]
  • I cannot remember the last time I did not study the Hebrew or Greek when I was preparing a sermon.
  • I cannot remember the last time I did use a Hebrew or Greek word when I was preaching a sermon.
  • The better I study the original text, the easier I find it is to explain its meaning in plain English/Spanish.
Preaching: an open Book, not a sealed scroll

Preaching: an open Book, not a sealed scroll

The exception is that when I give devotionals to my own Greek students, I will often show how a knowledge of the original languages is helpful. But now let’s focus on the positive, and think of times when it is illuminating to mention the Hebrew or Greek while preaching to a “regular” church audience.

The following list might make a start:

HEBREW WORDS:

  • Shema confession in its entirety from Deut 6:4, including the meaning of “one” (echad) as unity, not singularity (more…)

My Four Decades in the Bible, Part IV, Conclusion

Studying with my Logos Bible cap

Studying with my Logos Bible cap

Chapter Seven – I teach in seminary

I’ve now been a professor, teaching in English and then in Spanish, for 25 years.

The first seminary where I taught put us through a sort of Professor Boot Camp. Our academic dean stressed: “Your students will remember only a portion of the content you teach; they will always remember your attitudes and values.

That principle has been true as far as my memories: I can remember a few professors who came across as, well, self-satisfied, distant, or lethargic; I hope my impressions were mistaken.

Other professors seemed to be hard workers, careful students of the Word, loving individuals and encouraging. (more…)

Is Bible memorization a good use of our time?

I just wrote a post in which I gave advice to a younger Christian, and I urged him to memorize Scripture. A reader questions the value of  Bible memorization compared with other Bible activities.

He says: I would say focus on reading comprehension and understanding what you are reading and ask questions whenever possible – instead of memorizing Scripture (unless you are illiterate). I found that simply understanding is hard enough, and to place memorization on top of that when any of us here in the US can pull up our Bibles on our smartphones is not a good use of time. It is not evil in and of itself of course, just not a good use of time (if one is literate, that is). Otherwise if illiterate by all means get audio and memorize!

Dear Reader: Thanks for the stimulating comment, it made me think through whether my opinion was really self-evident.

As a professor I keep in mind the insights of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning. The learning facilitator is supposed to push the learner higher and higher in the pyramid: that is, not just Applying but further toward Analyzing. This is why I have my students memorize certain facts (REMEMBERING dates of important biblical events) but push them further up the pyramid (an essay where the student is critically ANALYZING a certain view of historiography).

blooms_pyramid

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Nevertheless, Bloom’s point was not that the lower levels of cognition are inferior; in fact, they are the base upon which the higher thinking is built.

In the case of the Bible, we want to push people beyond merely memorizing verses; they must also learn to employ it to life situations, to discern what is Biblical thinking and what is not, etc. (more…)

How to write a commentary when your library is 2000 miles away

in November 2012, Zondervan published my commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians, a volume I’ve been working on since 2005 (click HERE). When I saw it on display at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, I heaved a sigh of relief, and not just because finishing a book, any book, lightens the spirit. (My 1 Corinthians commentary is available for free download HERE).

I was pleased because the whole production seemed like a gamble from the outset. I had to figure out how to write a commentary without a library. I felt like the first person to invent the flourless cake.

I teach at a Bible college and seminary located in Costa Rica. Most Americans know it as a land of natural wonders, with beaches, rafting, rainforests, volcanoes and of course, gold-standard coffee. We are located in San José, a city of a million: not exactly the “bush,” but I might as well be when I sit down to do my writing. (more…)

Go right to the Bible! by special guest writer, Karen Shogren

I offered to teach my hairdresser how to study the Bible. Her counteroffer: every Thursday she’d close up shop and I’d teach her entire staff! “Now, we’re all from different backgrounds,” she said. “But you’re going to teach about us how to study the Bible for ourselves, not promote a specific denomination, right?” (more…)

How I have devotions

Part of my traditional New England upbringing was to learn to maintain boundaries between private issues, family matters, and public information. When I asked my parents what they were talking about, at times I heard, “Well, it doesn’t concern you.” Nothing gruff, like “it’s none of your business,” no “you wouldn’t understand.” Just, “if you needed to know, we’d tell you.” It’s the polar opposite to the tell-all autobiography, the Kardashian, Povichian culture in which we daily bathe. That probably explains my reticence about sharing the details of my private devotional life.

Nevertheless, I’ve been learning that to teach others to pray is one must provide an example. Much of what I know about prayer has been by listening to older believers as they approach God (this teaching method is sometimes called mimesis). So, if I blog or teach, I’m not just to communicate “doctrine” but also demonstrate prayer. (more…)