Monday, August 24, 2009

Sermons on 1 Thessalonians 1:1–2:8

The gracious folks at Oakridge Community Church in Stillwater, MN, invited me back to preach on two Sundays earlier this month. The two sermons are below. Right-click to download:
It was a pure pleasure to exult over this text with an attentive congregation. I thank God for the opportunity.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Regarding Chapters and Verses

Gordon Fee writes regarding the chapter break at 1 Thess 2:1:
While these aid in "finding" things, they are unfortunate in that they cause people to read the Bible differently from the way they would read anything else; and, as here, they often create false divisions of thought. Even the language "chapter and verse" unwittingly advocates a kind of gnomic approach to Scripture that gets in the way of good reading. By taking out the numbers, one can easily see what Paul is concerned with.
—Gordon Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, NICNT, 51

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Greatest Story

I grew up escaping life into fiction. I went through a comic book phase, but mostly I read plain old escapist fiction. Starting in 3rd grade I read Narnia over and over. I read all that Jim Kjelgaard wrote in 5th and 6th grade, and The Three Investigators series in 7th and 8th grade. I read everything Louis L'Amour wrote in 9th grade, and then moved into science fiction and fantasy through 10th and 11th grade. The standout during those years were The Amber Chronicles; 1,200 pages of pure bliss (well, at least the first 600, the last half weren't quite as good). I read The Bourne Identity in my senior year, and then moved on to everything Tom Clancy. I was voracious.

My French teacher in High School was exasperated with me for reading escapist fiction rather than good literature. I was okay with that at the time, though now I am trying to catch up and read the good stuff.

I also loved movies. But not any movies, big action flicks where the hero was really good and he saved the girl in the end. My favorite all-time movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark. I have seen most every block-buster since Indianna Jones hit the big screen in 1980 (with the proud exceptions of Dances with Wolves, Forrest Gump, and Titanic).

So? I love stories. I am drawn to stories. I am addicted to stories. Why? That is a good question. I have been thinking about why I in particular, and humans in general, like stories so much. That is why there have been so many posts on literature and story lately.

Yesterday I quoted Andrew Peterson. Here is another quote that I think speaks to what I am talking about:
As I said, I grew up in the church. I went to Sunday school, VBS, church camp, Wednesday night Bible study—the whole shebang. But it wasn’t until my freshman year of Bible college, in an Old Testament survey class, that the light bulb finally went on. It was the first time I realized the Bible is telling one big story, and that story is the one God is telling with history. My love of fiction, of film, even of comic books began to make sense through that lens. What I had always loved about those stories was the Story, seen in glimpses, felt with goosebumps and lumps in the throat that I couldn’t explain. G.K. Chesterton said no man ever entered a brothel who wasn’t looking for God. Well, no one ever walked into a movie theater or read a novel who wasn’t hungry for the Gospel.
I, too, love the greatest story the most.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

That’s hard to do with a dead imagination.

Andrew Peterson:

I remember feeling something when I was a kid. It’s this tickle behind your bellybutton, a sense that you’re brushing up against something magical. I had it all the time when I played with my G.I. Joe toys, when I read Voyage of the Dawn Treader, whenever I drew the first line of a new picture in my sketchbook, when I traipsed through the woods and came upon a rabbit or a snake in the grass. It’s the feeling that you’re being watched, the sudden, awful realization that you’re not alone. I get the feeling sometimes when I’m at Disney with my children, and when I’m at a wedding and we stand as the bride walks the aisle. Sometimes I feel it during communion. That feeling comes less and less the older you get, if you’re not careful to keep it alive. The world is full of surprises. It’s both scarier and more wonderful than you think. All these things prepare the heart for the jarring truth that there is an invisible Other, and He’s watching you. “Believe,” Jesus said, again and again, and that’s hard to do with a dead imagination.

Quoted from his interview on JT's blog.