A Word of Concern

This 3rd midweek service focuses on the word “concern.” The word can be used negatively, concern about what is happening in a fearful sense. It can also be used positively, noticing what is happening and having concern (and care) for those affected.

Psalm 142 (CSB)

1 I cry aloud to the LORD;
I plead aloud to the LORD for mercy.
2 I pour out my complaint before him;
I reveal my trouble to him.
3 Although my spirit is weak within me,
you know my way.

Along this path I travel
they have hidden a trap for me.
4 Look to the right and see:
no one stands up for me;
there is no refuge for me;
no one cares about me.

5 I cry to you, LORD;
I say, “You are my shelter,
my portion in the land of the living.”
6 Listen to my cry,
for I am very weak.
Rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
7 Free me from prison
so that I can praise your name.
The righteous will gather around me
because you deal generously with me.

1 Corinthians 12:18–26 (CSB)

18 But as it is, God has arranged each one of the parts in the body just as he wanted. 19 And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that are weaker are indispensable. 23 And those parts of the body that we consider less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unrespectable parts are treated with greater respect, 24 which our respectable parts do not need.

Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, 25 so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. 26 So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

John 19:23–27 (CSB)

23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, a part for each soldier. They also took the tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it, to see who gets it.” This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled that says: “They divided my clothes among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing.” This is what the soldiers did.

25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

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“See How They Love One Another”

Love— a big topic! The word is often misunderstood, misused, abused, twisted. And yet in the current debacle of love (in both the church and the world), there is a genuine love based on truth. What we in the church can do is to hold to that perfect balance of love and truth, sacrificing neither.

Competing views of Love

If someone is claiming to love, but twisting Scripture to support a false view, then we have to speak truth, calling a spade a spade. If abuse is happening in the name of love, then we can be sure that love is not part of the environment, no matter how loudly someone shouts about it being “Biblical love.”

True love described by Paul is the heart of what love looks like, acts like, and speaks like.

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 CSB)

As Christians we cannot let the world determine love; Scripture does that sufficiently. The people without faith can see problems in the world, even in love problems. In light of the great needs in the world, one suggestive, even tempting quip, is heard: “Let the Christian churches show their love for the hurting, refugees, persecuted.” There is some truth to that, but not the totality of the problems nor the solution of the problems. In other words, many can see the problems with love, but can’t offer a viable, sustainable model of love.

The starting point for Christian love is not the entire social mess in the world. Yes, the needs are pressing, but we cannot let that dictate what love is and looks like. Rather, the as we look at 1 John, we discover love that begins within the Church and moves outward, not the other way around.

1 John Speaks to the Church

This short post is about beginning in the local Christian congregation. If we cannot love those in our own congregation, then what can we offer the world? People will see our congregation and say, “If that is love, I want no part of it!”

John’s first letter proposes a different agenda for the Christians gathered around Word and Sacrament: “love for one another.” Given the atmosphere, attitudes, language among  Christians (at least in the U.S.), now is a good time to reflect on what John faced and wrote in the first century.

John minces no words about love in the life of a Christian—specifically love for other Christians:

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. (1 John 3:14-15 CSB)

How is love in our congregations? A real problem for Christians is when our love for others is feigned, and ultimately love is replaced by indifference. What does “cooling love” sound like? In the tone of dialog. In the descriptions of others? Of course, we may not always outright reject brothers and sisters in the faith in the congregation or attack them. We don’t have to. We are too subtle for that.

 How do we move beyond the superficial love?

John writes:

This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16 CSB)

Jesus showed exactly what perfect love is. He sacrificed his own life, not for good people, but for sinners, like you and me. He loved in words and in deeds, all in truth. So John asks the first century Christians (and us!) to consider that in our love of other Christians.

If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him—how does God’s love reside in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth. (1 John 3:17-18 CSB)

So the pattern for loving our brothers and sisters in faith, the very people we meet at worship, on the street, in our homes, is Jesus himself. As you read through the Gospels notice how Jesus loved— openly, freely, deeply. None of his love was based on what the person could do for Jesus, but because most of all the people needed to be loved, uncoditionally. And Jesus could do that—and did that.

John concludes this chapter with a summary of the thoughts above, with one specific addition.

Now this is his command: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him. And the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he has given us. (1 John 3:23-24 CSB)

John adds that we know the Christ and his love remains in us: the Spirit who is given to us. Notice then we not only have the example and reality of Christ loving us, we have the Spirit leading us to live in Christ, to love in Christ.

Such description and hope mean that love is the central aspect of our life together in Christ. God continues to nurture our love by means of God’s Word (John 8:1-32), God’s forgiveness (Matt. 18:15-20), the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-29), and the daily reminder of our Baptism in Christ (Romans 6:1-7). Our actions reflect that love as Christ remains in us.

Thus, Jesus’ love transforms us so that we see the real problems in the world, not just the visually identified problems. Thus, in the church we see the heartache, abuse, neglect, despair, the broken relationships in our midst and respond with both the truth of God’s Word and the perfect love of Jesus as the solution. We speak with one another not “as if we loved them,” but “because we do love them.”

May the observation from a second century pagan become a tribute to God’s love in our midst: “See how they love one another.”

[more to follow]

Posted in 1 John, Biblical studies, Ministry, New Testament, Personal Reflection | Tagged , , , ,

A Word of Assurance

For the midweek Lenten services we have followed the theme: “A Word of ______”

Last week, it was “A Word of Forgiveness.” This week our theme is “A Word of Assurance. Here are the four Scriptures that we will use in our meditation.

Psalm 91:14-16 (CSB)

[God says] Because he has his heart set on me,

I will deliver him;
I will protect him because he knows my name.
When he calls out to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble.
I will rescue him and give him honor.
I will satisfy him with a long life
and show him my salvation.

Ezekiel 36:22-32 (CSB)

22 “Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord GOD says: It is not for your sake that I will act, house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you went. 23 I will honor the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations—the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am the LORD this is the declaration of the Lord GOD when I demonstrate my holiness through you in their sight.”

24 “‘For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will summon the grain and make it plentiful, and I will not bring famine on you. 30 I will also make the fruit of the trees and the produce of the field plentiful, so that you will no longer experience reproach among the nations on account of famine.

31 “‘You will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and detestable practices. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act— this is the declaration of the Lord GOD— let this be known to you. Be ashamed and humiliated because of your ways, house of Israel!”

Hebrews 10:19-25 (CSB)

19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own aassembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

John 11:17-37 (CSB)

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that awhatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha *said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me awill never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.

30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”

Posted in CSB, Ministry, My church, New Testament, Old Testament, Worship/Liturgy | Tagged , , ,

CSB arrived

Today in the mail I received two copies of the CSB. Obviously getting ready for Lenten service, grading Seminary papers, I haven’t explored it much. Just a few quick observations

CSB Large Print Ultrathin Reference Bible (British Tan Leathertouch)

  1. Size: Just right for my needs, whether preaching, teaching, or personal study. It truly is ultra thin. Feels good to hold. I was concerned about a too large of a Bible for longer term holding or too small and harder to read. This is right in between for my kind of use.
  2. Print: The print is 9.5 which is definitely readable. There is a slight bleed through, but not distracting for reading. (the photos make the bless worse than in real life).
  3. Design: About what I would expect from such a Bible. There is a problem with alignment at 2 Samuel 12. Notice how the margin of the text does not move out to the left after the drop cap 12.

Notice in comparison how the left margin correctly moves outward after the drop cap 13.

 I am eager to explore this Bible more. So far, this Bible meets many needs that I have as pastor and teacher. As I use it more, I will also be checking translation choices, oral comprehension, etc.

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Initial look at CSB17

I have reviewed the HCSB over the past 4+ years. I have anticipated the update to HCSB for the past year. Holman recently published online the update to the HCSB translation, now renamed as CSB (Christian Standard Bible). Printed versions are due out this month.  I have not received a preview copy CSB17, so this comparison is based on the electronic version. I am comparing CSB, ESV, and NET. The reason I used NET as it seems very close in purpose and translation style to CSB.

This is a first step in evaluating Christian as a translation. I am looking at specific verses to see how it translates words/phrases. Further study will focus on readability and oral comprehension.

John 3:16

John 3:16

The traditional (ESV/NAS/NKJV) translation of οὕτως as “so.” CSB and NET (and GW) translate the Greek word as “in this way” or “this is the way.” There is debate about which is the better way to translate. Note how each translation handles the same Greek word οὕτως, in John 21:1. ESV seems inconsistent in its translation.

1 John 1:9

1-john-1,9

The key translation issue is how to translate the Greek word, ἵνα. Here is the NET note regarding this:

The ἵνα (hina) followed by the subjunctive is here equivalent to the infinitive of result, an “ecbatic” or consecutive use of ἵνα according to BDAG 477 s.v. 3 where 1 John 1:9 is listed as a specific example. The translation with participles (“forgiving, …cleansing”) conveys this idea of result.

I think it better to use the infinitive form (“to forgive … to cleanse”) because it could be infinitive of result or infinitive of purpose. The use of participles can be confusing (attendant circumstances, etc.). The NIV confuses even more, because it is no longer clear whether there are two characteristics of God (faithful and just) or four (faithful and just and forgive and cleanse).

1 Peter 3:21

1-pet-3,21

The primary challenge here is how to translate (and interpret) the Greek word: ἀντίτυπος; the sense is that the first item (type) points to the second item, the greater thing (antitype). NKJV does not translate the word, but transliterates the Greek: ἀντίτυπον  as “antitype.” Here NIV is the most confusing. People read “symbolizes” and interprets this to mean that baptism is a symbol of something. However, the symbolizing goes back behind that.

baptism not symbol

And the greater thing is saving in baptism. Thus, it is not that baptism symbolizes , but rather actually does what it says, namely saves.

Much more to follow.

Posted in Biblical studies, CSB, Greek, New Testament | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Forty Years—Changes in Life

Forty years ago this month was a monumental time for me and my wife. I was in the Navy, had just been picked up for regular Navy, had been selected to attend Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, CA), and we were making plans to move in August. We also had begun the application process for adoption. All of that was put on hold, though.

naval_postgraduate_school

That all changed during February 1977. After extensive tests I was diagnosed as insulin-dependent diabetic. I began taking insulin shots once a day. My diet, which wasn’t horrible, changed. I wasn’t overweight, but they put me on 1200 calories/day. My weight went from 165 to 149 in the first month. Eventually they had to move my calorie intake to 2200 cal/day.

gettyimages-98550998-diabetes-ballyscanlon-opener

The first Navy lawyer I spoke with said that I would be out of the Navy within 3 weeks—get prepared. My doctor was much more supportive; he advised me to go through a medical board evaluation. Over the next 6 months I went through 5 medical boards (each at a higher level) to see what my status would be. Each board reversed the previous board’s decision. So first board (NAS Miramar): recommended full unlimited sea duty in the Navy. The next one (don’t remember specific command): No dismiss from Navy immediately. Back and forth for 6 months.

In mid August the final medical review board met in Washington, DC, consisting of five members: three line officers and two medical doctors. The vote: 3-2 approving me for full unlimited sea duty. That meant I was the first person in the Navy to serve on unlimited sea duty while still taking insulin. Many were shocked, although my wife and I had trusted whatever decision would be from God, we were relieved.

So how did we celebrate? Had a great evening out. We began packing for our move to Monterey at the end of the month.

Oh, I also had another kidney stone! Yep, when the Intelligence detailing officer (the one responsible for assignments) in DC called me, he had to call the hospital. He was shocked. He said something to the effect that why would I mess up all that everyone had done by ending up in the hospital??? Ah, sir, that was not in my plan of the day!

We moved a week later. I drove the moving truck, and apparently it helped the stone move, because that first week of orientation at NPGS I was back in the hospital (Ft. Ord Army hospital). Surgery was not successful. But the stone finally shot out two days later at 1 AM in the hospital. Got out of the hospital and began classes at NPGS that week.

============

The Rest of the Story

In 1980 I was serving at Fleet Combat Training Center Atlantic (FCTCL) as intelligence instructor. By this time God was moving me to consider seminary. In late December 1980 my wife and I agreed that I should do so. However, I had to serve another 1 ½ years because of NPGS commitment.

In the first week in January, 1981 I forgot to take an insulin shot. I checked the urine and it was ok. I went another day, and then another. I was due for a doctor’s check up (every month since Feb. 1977) that next week. He ordered the usual blood tests and my blood sugar was normal. The Dr. said, well, we might consider dropping your amount of insulin (I wasn’t on a real high dose to begin with). With fear and trepidation I told him I have not taken insulin in 10 days. I was prepared for the slap on the back of my head. Instead, he was enthusiastic and wanted me to go two more weeks, checking urine every day.

So in January, 1981 was my last shot of insulin. I have been insulin free since then, and blood sugar tests throughout the past 36 years have been normal. While I was still in the Navy I had to have monthly checkups. If the doctor was new, he began researching my records and claimed that they must have done the tests wrong initially. They wanted to explain how this could happen medically. My reply was: I think God healed me. Every doctor said, “That’s a lot more believable than anything I can do in explaining.”

That dramatic change allowed me to start seminary in September, 1982, without the worry of insulin and the complications of diabetes.

concordia-seminary-st-louis

Yes, a lot has happened in the last 40 years. Thank God for all of that.

Posted in Personal Reflection | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Who heard and was troubled?

I again have the privilege of teaching Matthew this quarter in our seminary. As part of my preparation I read four chapters a day, hence the entire book of Matthew every week. Each week I use a different translation. So this week (starting on Friday) I began reading in God’s Word (GW) Matt. 1-4.

Matthew 2:3

Appropriately I read the section that fits with the Epiphany (January 6), namely the visit of the wise men to Jesus in Bethlehem. I noticed something different about this verse:

Matt. 2:3 When King Herod and all Jerusalem heard about this, they became disturbed. (GW)

So, it appears according to this translation that King Herod and all Jerusalem were together in hearing and reacting to what they heard. But is that accurate? Looking at the Greek text,

ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης ἐταράχθη καὶ  °πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ, (NA28)

The first word is an aorist participle, nominative singular (“having heard” implying “he” or a singular noun of the sentence).  After the conjunction, δὲ (“now” “when”) we find the subject of the sentence: “[The] King Herod,” which is followed by the main verb (ἐταράχθη) which is aorist indicative, singular, “he was troubled.” So we could easily translate the first part of the sentence:

“When having heard [about the wise men] King Herod was troubled.”

The second part of the sentence is an additional clause, not a complete sentence, which can be translated:

“and all Jerusalem with him.”

This suggests that “all Jerusalem” did not hear [the report] but was reacting to King Herod who heard and was troubled. When the king is troubled, then all Jerusalem is troubled with him. Thus, the threat of a king-challenger is of immediate concern to Herod. It is a troubled Herod that is of immediate concern for the people.

Other translations:

I could find only one other translation that was even close to GW, namely NLT:

NLT King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.

Unfortunately the way the sentence is awkwardly constructed in NLT, the additional clause at the end is closely connected with “hearing” and not “deeply disturbed.” Yet the helping verb (“was”) suggests a relationship with “deep disturbed.” But who would stop and analyze that structure?

The following translations catch the sense of the Greek sentence, that Herod heard the report, and that was troubling to him, and that then as troubling to all Jerusalem, contrary to GW (and NLT).

NAS When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

NET When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him.

NIV When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

HCSB When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

NAB When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

NJB When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem.

REB King Herod was greatly perturbed when he heard this, and so was the whole of Jerusalem.

It seems that GW (and somewhat NLT) confuses the problem by making Herod and the people as the ones equally who heard and are troubled.

Posted in Greek, GW, Languages, Matthew, New Testament, Translations | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments