Bible Study Report – July 14

Last night’s Bible study hangout was attended by five people, and I believe enjoyed by all concerned. We discussed the wheat and the weeds along with several other passages, including Psalm 139 (the whole Psalm, not the portions selected for the Lectionary). I’ll be posting our passages and the theme we’ll look for in them some time this afternoon.

I want to thank everyone who participated, and all those who have worked through technical difficulties. We’re still hearing from more people who want to join at some point, though we’d be happy to do this with just four or five people. There’s nothing formal about it. Just come prepared to discuss. There’s no presuppositions about beliefs either.


Monday Night Bible Study Link

Here’s the hangout link:

All are welcome!

What Do We Judge?

Tonight’s topic for our Bible study on Google Hangouts comes from the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt. 13:24-43). To me, this passage is as interesting for the other passages it evokes as it is for what it says. And like many parables, it seems to raise as many questions as it answers.

If I were to summarize the way I hear the parable myself, I’d say: Be patient with all the problems and questionable people because God will sort it all out in the end.

Thus it becomes another “Judge not” passage.

But this is where other passages start parading their way through my mind. There’s Matthew 7:1, yes, and oh so plain. But then there’s also Matthew 7:20, telling us we will know them by their fruit. Know who? Well, false prophets. Is it possible that any of the weeds could be false prophets?

Then there’s Hebrews 5:14, where we learn that mature people have learned to distinguish good from evil. Is this just good vs evil ideas or does it include false prophets, for example. And just how do we get from Matthew 7:1 to 1 Corinthians 5, in which certain people are given to Satan?

Logic I tervenes as well, as I judge each word I write in this post. Ah, but that’s just judging things, right? But I will invite my Google+ circles to our hangout, and not others, demonstrating that I have made judgments there as well.

Perhaps this whole issue of judgment isn’t as easy as we thought. Let’s discuss it tonight! I’ll post a link on my Google+ page and here on this blog.

PS: Remember to read the other lectionary texts as well. I think they speak to this issue in interesting ways.

Background Article for Monday’s Bible Study

Bob MacDonald sent me the following link: Growing Wheat. This provides some good background information on the parable. Remember, however, to consider the question in the light of all the passages and don’t be afraid to read more widely for context or for more parallels.

You can find information on the study here.

Next Week’s Bible Study

Our first try didn’t go that well. I spent a couple of hours talking to folks about technical issues. You ned to have Google hangouts working. If you want I can test it with you sometime before the study.

This coming week we’ll be studying for proper 11A, and we have selected Isaiah 44:6-8, Psalm 139 (I prefer reading the whole Psalm), Romans 8:12-25, and Matthew 24:24-30, 36-43.

Jody has already posted our lead question:

Can we, and should we, distinguish the weeds and wheat in our lives and experience?

Focus on the meaning of the wheat and weeds in our gospel passage. What do these represent in the parable?

There are quite a number of ways to approach the Lectionary passages in a study. We could choose a specific passage to study, for example. What we’ve chosen to do is to focus on a theme that is touched on in the various passages.

I see some help with our question from Psalm 139. Who really knows? Who really knows who is what? I see a similar theme in Matthew 7:1 and Matthew 7:15-20. Where and when does each instruction apply?

Join us this coming Monday at 7 pm central time. I’ll post an invitation to all my circles on my Google+ page about a half an hoir before we start.

New Monday Night Bible Study

My wife Jody and I will be leading a Monday night Bible study via Google Hangouts. Everyone is invited. Jody already posted about it, and her post includes the initial question and the scriptures for tonight.

We thought about many approaches to choosing our texts, and we finally settled on using the current readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. These will be the readings for the Sunday following the study. Jody will list these in her post along with an opening question (or so).

We’re not planning to formally “teach” this. This is a time for people who come from various perspectives and places to study together. Doubtless I will have and express many opinions. For best results, you should read the texts ahead of time and do some of the exegetical work.

I’ll open the hangout a bit before the formal time for the study (7 pm central time), post the invitation to my Google+ page, and e-mail a link to anyone who has requested it. If you follow me on Google+ you won’t need a special e-mail. You can use the Google+ notifications that you normally use.

If you’d like a link e-mailed, just e-mail me at and request it. I’ll be glad to send you a link.

More Editing Work – a Link

My wife Jody also edits. She’s posted something from an upcoming release: From My Editing Desk: The Unbroken Road by Katy Isaacs.


From My Editing Work: Personal Salvation vs the Social Gospel

From Seven Marks of a New Testament Church by David Alan Black, p. 6:

In the fourth place, evangelism in the New Testament was always characterized by genuine concern for the social needs of the lost. When I was in seminary, a good deal of distrust existed between those who emphasized personal salvation in evangelism and those who emphasized the so-called social gospel. The two, however, are indivisible.

(forthcoming … at the printer)

The Problem with Church Debates

It hit me on Sunday as I was listening to a fine sermon for Pentecost at my home church, First United Methodist Church of Pensacola. Rev. Bob Sweet was enumerating a number of things the Holy Spirit might do for us, changes we should all make. A number of his points elicited laughter, because we all felt a bit guilty. Then he hit “stop gossiping.” This time the laughter was loud and noticeably nervous. You know why? Because everyone knew we weren’t going to stop gossiping.

And then it hit me. The real problem with our church debates is that most of us know we’re debating the meaning of divine commands which we have no real intention of obeying anyhow. I’m not talking about things we disagree with, so we don’t do. I’m talking about things we all agree we ought to do, but never get around to doing.

Those are the things I need to look at in my own life. What about you?

What Am I Doing?

What’s that picture?greek grammar layout

I’m glad you asked. That’s my computer with layout work for the forthcoming Spanish translation of Dave Black’s Greek grammar. It’s an interesting bit of work. I was thinking yesterday that it doesn’t get much tougher than this, but then I recall working in graduate school on translating Akkadian into English using an Akkadian-German lexicon. Not to mention that while I had an introductory grammar in English, my best reference for grammar was also in German.

I’m looking forward to releasing this, not least because it’s always better to look back with a sense of accomplishment than forward looking for the finish line!