Monday, December 22, 2008


Well Happy Holidays!

I'm still being delinquent when it comes to updating. Life is not that pressing. I just haven't come around to put anything meaningful up. So I thought I would pass the time with a few updates to life.

EMT training kicks over into the real world beginning tomorrow. I begin ride-along clinicals in Liberal. That means riding on the ambulance with paramedics and responding to real calls. I have also begun to consider pursuing EMT-Paramedic training. I'm looking at our community and see a need for a local paramedic on the fire department. So I may pursue that training to help out in the community.

The Turpin Food Pantry is another ministry that I'm involved with and it has been a great blessing to the community. Last night we served about 20 families with food baskets (sponsored by the Turpin Booster Club) and Angel Tree gifts for the kids (sponsored by the Ministerial Alliance) and teenagers (sponsored by the Turpin water department). It is really great to see so many groups coming together to impact the lives of community members. It is also the answer to so many needs in our world, cooperation.

The boys are out of school for Christmas break. They are quite excited about the freedom they have been given. They are living high on the hog, kicking back to play on the computer, watch T.V., and generally drive us batty all day for the next 2 weeks.

I have stepped over to a dark side that I never thought I would give into. I bought Guitar Hero: World Tour. For those who do not delve into the video game world, Guitar Hero is what is called a rhythm game. Sort of like the dance games that have been the rage for the last 10 or so years. Only these involve music instruments, sort of. Instead of playing guitar with strings and frets, you match colored dots on the screen with the corresponding buttons on the guitar while "strumming" a button. The thing about World Tour is that you can also play drums (more like the real thing) and sing with a microphone (just like the real thing). The dark side of this is that it is all rock and roll music. It covers songs from the last 40 years (with La Bamba thrown in for good measure). It is a lot of fun. And Nick is learning the drums. If we can just get Andrew to play guitar, we would have a family band.

Speaking of Andrew, I thought I would share an Andrew-ism from this morning. During Advent we have been doing a family Advent box. Every morning one of the boys gets to open the door of our box. Inside is a slip of paper describing a family event that we will do at some point during the day. Today's activity was Family Game Night. Andrew opened the door and read the description. Then this conversation:

Andrew: We don't have any Christmas games.
Me: Well we can play any game.

Andrew: But we don't celebrate Hanukkah.
Me: We can play ordinary games.

Andrew: We don't even have a dreidel.

And who says Blue's Clues doesn't teach our children anything.

I understand that there has been a few problems with the Revelation Bible Study when people try to view the blog. The gibberish some of you may be encountering is the code for the audio recordings that I have been posting. If you are having problems seeing them, I will try to debug it and give you a fix for it next week. Also, the multipart recordings are now listed in one recording and play back to back.

Until the next time - Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christmas list

As a follow-up to the previous post (if you haven't read it yet, don't feel to bad), I feel that it is most likely time for my annual posting of the Christmas Fantasy List.

A Christmas Fantasy List is not a wish list. It is simply those things that, if we lived in ToddWorld, would being under the Christmas tree.

This is mostly a resource for my family. But anyone is welcome to chip in.

Computer Games

Fallout 3

Video Games (Wii)
Star Wars Lightsaber Duel
Mario Kart
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
MySims Kingdom
Rock Band Special Edition (the whole band)
Iron Chef America
Star Wars The Force Unleashed

Computer supplies
320GB-1TB portable hard drive
Laptop/Desktop Computer memory 1GB -2GB


Feasting On Asphalt
Bobby Flay’s Grill It
Grill It by Steve Raichlin
The Year of Living Biblically
Wesley Study Bible
Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney


Digital scale
KitchenAid stand mixer slicer/shredder
Pizza stone

Incredible Hulk (just released movie)

Magazine subscriptions
National Geographic
Food Network magazine
Popular Photography
PC Gamer

Music equipment
Guitar strap (fancy)
Tuner (digital)
Gibson Robot Guitar
Still holding out hope for bagpipes (cause now I have a place to play them)

Practical (boring) stuff
Banded collar shirts
Winter Under Armour shirts

Gift cards

Best Buy
Guitar Center

Jeremy Camp – Speaking Louder Than Before
Jeremy Camp – Beyond Measure
Third Day – anything
ZZ Top, Def Leppard, The Who, ELO - greatest hits collections


A brake job for my '97 Taurus
A new stereo system for my '97 Taurus
A Honda Element
Segway X-2

Back to blogging

I've taken a little time off from sharing thoughts here and instead used the blog as a repository for Bible study recordings. I will continue with that for the remainder of the study. But I decided to get back to sharing thoughts and wonderings.

And really one thing has brought me back to this place of happy thoughts (well, not always happy): Christmas. Not Christmas in the sense of family memories or even high liturgical significance. Nope. What brought me back to blogging is one simple question: have people lost their minds?

Two weeks ago. Not today. Not next Friday. Two weeks ago yesterday. November 4. I was in Hastings to spend some money that I was blessed with from my church. By the way, a big "Thank You" again to the Turpin church for that blessing. But I was looking around for something meaningful and productive and reflective of the spirit with which the church gave me that gift. I was looking for video games. But blasting over the in-store music was Christmas music. Not just a song now and then. The entire music programming was Christmas music. In the first week of November.

Then, last week I was driving home from EMT class. And there was a house with it's Christmas lights turned on. Not just a simple strand of lights around the eaves of the house. Thousands of little lights everywhere.

Last night I was going into EMT class and someone had an elaborate Christmas light display turned on.

And Lisa (as well as an unnamed member of the church - who supposedly works for the local pizza restaurant) is all excited about getting their Christmas decorations up.

Yes. I am Ebeneezer Scrooge.

But come on. Really. 2 months before Christmas is a little extravagant. I have been saying for years now that Halloween will become the next big Christmas shopping event. It will eventually rival Black Friday and December 26th as one of the financial windfalls for retailers. This year is proof of the creep in that direction.

There can be too much of a good thing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Curriculum Writing Event

Curriculum Event notes

Content: Methodist beliefs

Scope: Grace; Sacraments; Practices (Biblical, UMC)

Sequence: as above
Grace: Ephesians 2:1-10
Sacrament: Mark 1:1-11; 1 Corinthians 11:23-28
Practices: Luke 4:16-19

Main Idea/Camp Goals
Kids will deepen understanding of UM discipleship in terms of belief and practice

Name 3 kinds of grace;
Identify distinctiveness of UM sacraments;
Describe some behaviors of disciples

Session Outline
Copyright Judson Press, 2008. Permission for photocopy.

Bible Passage:
Main Idea:

Outcomes: By the end of the session, campers will have:



Presenting the Main Idea

Exploring the Main Idea

Responding to the Main Idea


Friday, October 24, 2008

Revelation 2: 1 through 11

I. Construction of the 7 letters

A. Command: write “to the angelos…”

1. Pronounced angelos; means messenger

2. Could represent a heavenly counterpart to the church – Hebrews 8:4-5

3. Could represent a human intermediary

a) A messenger who would bring messages to the church

b) The bishop of the church – episkopos – 1 Timothy 3:1-7

4. Could represent a prevailing spirit within the church

5. Could represent a guardian angel

B. Christ’s description – “the one who…”

1. Each description is directly linked to Jesus Christ

2. Each description is linked to an element of the description in the introduction

3. Each introduction is directly related to the current state of the church being addressed

4. “thus says”

a) This is an Old testament echo of “thus says the Lord”

b) It is an introductory statement of impending prophetic message

C. Commendation

1. 6 Churches receive commendation for a worthwhile quality

2. It focuses on the churches’ good works

D. Accusation

1. 5 church are criticized for a quality contrary to Christ’s purpose

2. Compromising the faith is a repeated problem

E. Exhortation to repent

1. The churches that are criticized

2. Encouraged to return to a former state or change completely

3. A threat is present conditioned on Christ’s return

F. Promise

1. Given to those who conquer or overcome

G. Exhortation to discern – “to those with ears to hear…”

II. Purpose of the 7 letters

A. Affirmation of the churches

1. They are commended on remaining faithful

2. There is a promise for those who remain faithful

B. Admonitions for “faults”

1. There are accusations for acts or attitudes within the church contrary to Christ

2. There is instruction to repent or change

3. There are conditional threats of “punishment”

C. When we understand this as addressed to the universal church

1. Exhortation to discern is the “churches”

2. 2:23 – that all churches may know

3. Early church writers believed it was addressed to the universal church

D. Commentary on the state of the whole church

1. Chiastic structure

a) First and last are in danger of losing their Christian identity

b) Three middle churches are at varying degrees of remaining faithful and/or compromising to culture

c) Second and Sixth churches have been faithful even through persecution

2. Emphasizes

a) More churches are unhealthy than healthy in regards to faithful works

b) Emphasis points in the middle to churches with serious problems

c) The boundary letters are church in danger of losing their association with Christ

III. 7 Churches

A. Ephesus – Selcuk

1. Background

a) Politics and economics – Ephesus was the chief administration city in Asia Minor for the Roman Empire. This city was where Roman officials would arrive and leave Asia Minor. It was a commercially important city due to a manmade harbor. Eventually that harbor was filled with silt from river deposits and the city moved. This was also the western anchor for the Lower Royal road, a trade route to Mesopotamia.

b) Geography – Ephesus moved a number of times in its history. It is located on the Cayster River. Marsh lands have developed due to the silt that has been deposited.

c) Religion – Ephesus was a center for the worship of Artemis as well as 6 imperial temples. The Temple of Artemis was the 7th wonder of the ancient world.

d) Population – It is estimated that Ephesus could have had 250,000-300,000 citizens making it the 4th largest city at the time of the Roman Empire.

e) Ephesus had a very large Christian influence. It is mentioned a number of times in the New Testament. Paul stayed there for some time. John is believed to have lived, died, and was buried there. It is also tradition that John moved Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Ephesus.

2. Christ’s Introduction

a) Standing among the 7 lampstands

(1) Christ is present among the 7 churches

b) Holding the 7 stars

(1) “Angels” are within the authority of Christ

3. Commendation

a) Works and labor

b) Perseverance

c) Acts against “false apostles”

(1) False apostles are determined through examination of their lives and teaching.

(2) Examined on the basis of doctrinal integrity

d) Hate the practices of the Nicolaitans

(1) Nicolaitans taught that some degree of participation in the idolatrous culture of the Ephesians was acceptable

(a) Specifically eating meat sacrificed to idols and fornication

4. Accusation

a) They have lost their first love

(1) Passionate devotion to Christ

(2) Unconditional love for brothers and sisters

(3) Passion for witnessing to the unchurched world

5. Promise

a) Eat from the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22)

6. Exhortation to repent

a) Remember their prior state

b) Repent from their current state

c) Return to their prior works

7. Threat if they don’t - remove their lampstand

a) Reference to the lampstands Christ stands among

b) They will no longer be identified with Christ

c) Their Christian identity in the spiritual realm would be lost

B. Smyrna – Izmir

1. Background

a) Politics – Smyrna was a trading city located on a secure natural harbor. It was very loyal to Rome. There was also a large Jewish influence in this city.

b) Economics – Smyrna was the economical rival of Ephesus. Its natural harbor did not suffer the weaknesses of Ephesus so it remained a viable seaport. It was also surrounded by fertile farm lands. The Hermus River flowed into the harbor.

c) Culture – Smyrna was a planned city with roads laid out in geometric designs and had many beautiful buildings. It was the home of a number of poets and is the reported home of Homer. It was a very rich city known for wine, science, and medicine. It’s stadium sat 20,000 people.

d) Population – Smyrna is believed to have had 100,000 to 200,000 citizens.

e) Religion – Smyrna was dedicated to the imperial cult; worship of Roman emperors. It was the center of worship for numerous Caesars. It also had a large Jewish population. Later Smyrna was an important Christian city.

f) It is the only city of the 7 church cities still inhabited.

2. Introduction of Christ

a) First and the Last

(1) Similar to the introduction of God in the introduction

(2) Refers to Lord of all creation

b) “who died and came to life again”

(1) Reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection

(2) Implied reference to Christ’s sacrifice

3. Commendation

a) Christ knows their sufferings through afflictions

(1) Hostile anti-Christian sentiments in the city

(a) Confirms that some persecution was occurring at the time of the writing

(2) Slander by the Jews

(a) Disloyal to the empire

(b) Atheists – did not believe in God but a man

(c) Split families

(d) Cannibalism and orgies

(3) Poverty – financially destitute

4. Accusation – none

5. Exhortation to repent

a) Do not fear the things which will happen

(1) Imprisonment

(2) Death

(3) Persecution for 10 days – Daniel 1:12-15

b) Be faithful even to death

6. No threat since there is no accusation

7. Promise

a) Crown of life

(1) Eternal life

(2) Crown associated with victory or joy; not a rulers crown

b) Avoid the second death

(1) Rabbinic teaching of death in the next life for disobedient

(2) Physical then spiritual death possible

(3) Cast into the lake of fire (20:14)

Revelation 1:11 through 20

I. Vision of the Man

a. “I turned to see the voice”

i. Could imply John turned to see the speaker

1. Represents a heavenly creature

ii. Old Testament references to “seeing the voice/sound” related to God

1. Exodus 20:18, 22

2. Daniel 7:11

3. Deuteronomy 4:12

4. Several prophets refer to words they saw

a. Isaiah 2:1; 13:1

b. Jeremiah 23:18

c. Amos 1:1

d. Micah 1:1

e. Habakkuk 1:1

iii. Also a warning to us that what we are about to see is symbolism

b. Seven golden lampstands

i. In terms of imagery, the Temple atmosphere is implied

1. The closest representation is that of the menorah from Old Testament tabernacle/temple

ii. Arranged around the man

1. The Temple menorah were placed before the Lord (Exodus 21:27; Leviticus 24:2-4)

2. These are situated to burn before the Son of Man

iii. Zechariah 4:1-4, 10

1. Seven lamps are the eyes of the Lord

2. Revelation 1:20 interprets the lamp stands as the seven churches

c. Son of Man

i. Reference to Daniel 7 and 10

1. The Son of Man and Ancient of Days are combined in this person

2. Jesus referred to himself as son of man

ii. Qualities to which John is drawn

1. Clothed in a robe and sash/girdle/belt

a. Much has been made of this as a priestly garment

b. Since we have little in way of description, it is inconclusive

c. If the lamp stands do create a temple atmosphere, priestly garments are appropriate interpretations

2. White head and hair

a. It is more appropriate to understand this as “white head, that is, hair”

b. Feature of the Ancient of Days from Daniel 7:9

c. OT and Near Eastern culture had certain attitudes toward “elderly”

i. Respect, honor, wisdom, and high social status

3. Eyes like fire

a. Some believe that this is a statement of judgment

b. Also allusion to Daniel 10:6

4. Feet like bright bronze

a. The Greek word is only used here in Revelation

b. Daniel 10:6

c. This person is barefoot – perhaps a nod to lack of special priestly footwear when officiating

d. Represents strength and stability or moral purity

5. Voice like many waters

a. Again a reference to a “loud” voice

b. Ezekiel 43:2

c. Some hold that the sound of the surf on Patmos was an inspiration for this image

6. Seven stars in his right hand

a. Revelation 1:20 interprets this as seven angels

b. Right hand represents power or authority

i. Authority over the churches

ii. Protection/judgment over the churches

c. Some see the stars as adopted from mythology/astrology

7. Sharp, two-edged sword from his mouth

a. Image found only in Revelation

b. Always refers to Christ

c. Sword’s function is mentioned in 2:16 and 19:15

i. Fight against those who do not repent

ii. Smite the nations

d. Sword is used as a metaphor for the tongue

i. Power then lies with words or speech

ii. Reason, effective speech, and Word of God are all compared to a sword or dagger

1. Psalm 52:2; 57:4

2. Ephesians 6:17

3. Hebrews 4:12

iii. Isaiah 11:4 – justice is the rod from his mouth

8. Face shining like the sun

a. Metaphor for holiness or divinity or transcendence

b. Spoken of in relation to theophanies (experience of meeting God)

c. Tradition of brightness of the faces of the righteous

d. Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:3)

iii. The person speaks to John

1. John falls down at the person’s feet

a. Common response when heavenly creatures are encountered

b. Isaiah 6 – undone

2. Words of assurance to John

a. Do not be afraid

b. Accompanied by the right hand

3. Identification

a. I am – identified with Christ’s “I am” statements as well as God

b. First and last

i. Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12 – refers to God

ii. Occurs again in Revelation referring to Christ

c. Living One, I was dead, I am alive forevermore

i. Jewish tradition names God as the Living God

ii. Resurrection affirmation

d. Keys of death and Hades

i. Represent authority over the realms of the dead

4. Commission

a. Some see this as the outline of the entire book

i. Things you have seen – this vision

ii. Things which are – current state of churches

iii. Things which will take place – eschaton

b. John is commanded to write about the visions

5. Interpretation

a. Jesus gives understanding regarding the “mystery”

b. Similar to parable constructions

i. Story – interpretation

ii. Image – interpretation

c. Seven stars are the angels

d. Seven lamp stands are the churches