Monday, November 30, 2009

lunchtime theology

Emma (age 4) and I are having lunch together right now.  A few minutes ago she asked,

"Is God real?"  I suppose her question was prompted by yesterday's conversation about whether or not Santa is real.

"Yes!" I told her, "God is the realest one that is!"

She considered this for a moment.  "Is it REALLY his birthday?"

Hmm ... how to answer that one?  I explained that we call Christmas his birthday celebration because it helps us to remember when he was born, but it's not like our birthdays because Jesus is not actually getting older every year.  He has always existed.

"Mommy, what is he doing right now?  Standing or sitting?"  She has no idea what a good question that is!

 "Well, the Bible tells us that right now Jesus is standing beside God the Father in heaven.  When all his work on earth is done, He'll sit down.  But He still has work to do."  (I'll have to check that one out later and see if that's how the Bible really does describe it.  This was theologizing on the fly!)

"Wow!  He's been working a LONG time!"  She paused for a while.  "Mommy, are there lots of Gods?  Like good ones and bad ones?"  (I wonder where that one came from!)

"No.  There is only ONE God, the one who made us.  He's the one we worship.  There are bad angels, but they aren't powerful like God is."

"Ohh!"  She seemed glad to hear it. 

And I was sure glad to tell her!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

on the horizon

One of the most exciting things about ETS was the opportunity I had to meet outstanding biblical scholars and discuss potential research ideas. 

+I spoke with Andreas Kostenberger (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) about a paper I'll be writing in December on the book of John.  He has recently published a book on the theology of John's gospel, and wrote the chapter on John for Beale and Carson's Commentary on the Use of the OT in the New.  After talking with him I decided to write on Jesus' use of imagery from Isaiah in healing the man born blind.  He had made passing reference to the idea in his chapter for Beale and Carson, but he agreed that it's an idea worth further exploration.

+I met with Daniel Block (Wheaton Graduate School) to talk about Deuteronomy, his passion and mine.  We discussed two upcoming projects of mine: (1) A paper for my spring class on Biblical Theology where I plan to trace a concept which Moses introduces in Deut 6:10-12 that later occupies the minds of many of the Old Testament prophets.   Around our house we call it the "Fat and Happy Theme", but in its next life as an academic paper I'll probably call it "Satiation and Spirituality".  (2) My thesis (to be written Spring 2011) on the use of Deuteronomy in 1 Peter, with special emphasis on the idea of Israel (and then the church) as God's "treasured possession" (Deut 26:18 / 1 Peter 2:9). 

I was talking with the lady beside me on the airplane on my way home.  She wanted to know what I was planning to write my thesis on.  She didn't seem particularly knowlegable about the Bible (she wasn't sure what Deuteronomy was), but she got downright excited when I explained my thesis proposal to her.  "Peter," I told her, "is taking words which Moses used to talk about Israel as God's chosen people, and he's using them to describe the church, made up of both Jews and non-Jews.  He's saying something pretty radical - that we are now just as special to God as the Jews were in the Old Testament times."  I wish you could have heard her.  "If you're right," she exclaimed. "Then people really need to hear this!"  She started telling the man next to her all about it.  I was so tickled.  I think she thought I had discovered something brand new.

And that's why I'm excited about all the studying I get to do in my last 3 semesters in seminary -- because these ideas really do make a difference, and they really are GOOD NEWS for us in the 21st century.  Some may argue that Biblical Studies is somewhat of a 'dead' discipline because everything that can be said about the Bible has already been said (a debatable notion, to be sure).  But at the very least these truths need to be recaptured and rearticulated for a new generation.  I can't think of anything else I'd rather do!

Monday, November 23, 2009

catching up on butterfly kisses ...

This has been a week to remember.  I took off my "mommy" hat for 3 1/2 days and headed to New Orleans for the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.  It was FABULOUS! 

Meeting new friends and old ...
Conversing with great Christian scholars about their work ...
Gaining insight into God's Word ...
Eating alligator stew ...
And sensing profoundly the Spirit of God directing me and guiding me in big things and in small, using every moment to accomplish His design in my life.

I'll share snippets later, but for now I'm catching up on butterfly kisses and bedtime prayers ...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

a giant heart ... promoted to glory

Gil Woo was a man with a heart, a BIG heart.  We met him and his wife Vivian on our first day visiting what was then known as Northridge Community Church in Milwaukie, Oregon.  They gave us such a warm welcome!  He was so interested in getting to know us, and we bonded right away.  It was only at the end of the conversation that we learned it was their first Sunday there, too!  And that's the kind of guy Gil was.  He had a way of caring that just poured out of him without stopping.  I never knew him to stop and nurse his own wounds.  He was as others-centered as a person can be.

Gil and Vivian have supported us generously since we first became missionaries.  Month after month, faithfully investing in God's work in and through us.  But we never were a "project" to them, just the dearest of friends.  Each time we've traveled back to Portland to see family, friends, and supporters to report on the work that God has been doing through SIM they have graciously opened their home to us and dozens of others who wanted to see us.  Desserts, coffee, gifts for the kids, and the warmest of fellowship were always present in abundance.

Gil gave, and gave, and gave some more.  We were not surprised to learn that even from his hospital bed, without the ability to speak, he wrote messages to ensure that his family and employees were cared for in his absence and knew that they were loved.  No thought for himself.  And today he was promoted to glory.

We will miss you, Gil.  And the tears have flowed.  But we know that you are up there cheering us on like you always have, finding new ways to give of yourself to those you love.  I wonder, how is the View from the Ridge?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bill of 'Whose' Rights?

I'm reading an article by Dr. Daniel Block, from Wheaton Graduate School, on the relevance of Old Testament law for us today.  He says something very profound about the Ten Commandments (literally: 'Ten Words' found in Ex 20 and Deut 5), which he calls "ancient Israel’s version of the Bill of Rights." 

You know ours, right?  According to the Constitution of the United States we all have the right to a fair trial, the right to bear arms, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc.  But God's Bill of Rights is really quite the opposite!  Block points out that in contrast to our nation's Bill of Rights, the Ten Commandmants are "concerned to protect not my rights but the rights of the next person."  Those of us who enter into covenant with God are bound to behave in such a way to respect God more than ourselves, and to protect the freedom of others rather than our own. 

This preference for God and others is why Jesus can sum up the whole law in just 2 commands:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27 NIV)  Jesus wasn't writing a new law in order to do away with the old one.  He simply made plain what was there all along.

Quotes taken from "Preaching Old Testament Law to New Testament Christians" Part 1, Ministry May 2006.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

free rice!

One of Eliana's teachers just clued us in to a really great website.  At you can test your vocabulary, practice identifying countries of the world, quiz your math skills and more.  And it's better than free!  For each answer you get right, sponsors will buy 10 grains of rice for undernourished families through the UN World Food Program.  Harvard developed the website and it's slick.  The computer quickly figures out your knowledge level and works to increase it, recycling questions you get wrong so you can answer correctly the next time.

Eliana and I are both addicted to it.  As we play the grains of rice pile up before our eyes!  It's a better-than-free way to get ready for the GRE and the EOG (End-of-grade test for 3rd graders).  And it accomplishes the unlikely task of uniting all 3 of my passions: my kids, academics, and missions! 

Check it out!