Wow, it has been a long time since I have posted anything. This will be random, but perhaps those interested in me will see it, and read it.
I’ll have a number of headers, under which my thoughts will be quite random indeed.
Reflections on the Work of Christ
This semester, I have been teaching the Epistle to the Hebrews. I taught in during the fall semester of 1994, and did not repeat it until the spring semester of 2013. I think I did a better job the second time around. I’m repeating it now (just one year later), and for the school year 2014-2015, I’ll teach it both in the spring and fall semesters.
The book presents Christ’s sacrifice numerous times throughout the book, contrasting it with the ineffective sacrifices and offerings of the Levitical priests (Heb. 1:3; Heb. 2:27; Heb. 9:11-12; Heb. 9:26; Heb. 10:12, among other places). The once-for-all-times character of His offering (the Greek word ἅπαξ or its intensified form ἐφάπαξ are used 11 times in the book of Hebrews) for us should bring us to our knees in doxology. It is indeed a Good Friday for us!
This week I have also been blessed by reading from a new book, written by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Crossway Books, 2014). It is extremely readable, approaching in Gospel accounts in a harmonized way, with footnotes that have sent me to theological journals. I have benefitted by its reading. Ideally, one could read this during Easter Week, reading the events of Jesus’ life during the day of the week that they occurred. I didn’t begin its reading in that fashion, but it could be an excellent devotional.
I’ve just returned from a very moving, student-led Good Friday Service. I especially appreciated Cassandra De Fazio’s moving devotional thought, and the reminded us of Tony Campolo’s It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming! Also, Kendall Wingert et al did a moving song I had not heard (they don’t play songs like this on talk radio), titled Hero (originally performed by a group called Abandon).
Exercise, Healthy Eating, Etc.
Most of the recent posts on this blog had to do with nutrition. Last summer I embarked on a life-changing experience nutritionally, which resulted in dropping a lot (!) of weight. I have maintained the weight loss primarily, though I have picked up a few pounds. I eat very little meat. For the last several months, I have juiced very little. It is somewhat of a hassle to juice, as getting the machine ready (and cleaning it after use) takes time. When I have juiced, I have been impressed with how healthy it seems to drink the juice. The last batch I made produced pretty much a green juice, which even Rose seemed to like. Last summer, it was rare for her even to be willing to taste my juices.
During the summer months, I was pretty much physically inactive. I have tried to remedy that recently. I will participate in the Joplin Memorial Run (5K) on May 10. I have always hated running. Having some sort of a ball involved made the running a bit more tolerable. In recent years, I have become much more sedentary. I have been using the smartphone app Couch to 5K to get ready for the race. I could, theoretically, walk the 5 kilometers on that day. There is something strangely appealing about being able to say, “I ran a 5K on my 60th birthday.” Were it not for that, I probably wouldn’t be interested.
I have also been playing racquetball with some regularity over the past couple months. My partners, up until yesterday, consisted of my son, Greg, and my good friend, Ralph Shead. We have played one another in singles, and also cut-throat. I am now getting to the place again, where I can win random games. My son, Greg, reminds me of myself. For years I was obese, but rather athletic. I could get to those difficult shots. Greg is overweight (I wish that he would drop some poundage), but he gets to nearly every single shot (even if he has to cover the entire court). No longer do I get to every shot. I can see myself getting much more mobile in the racquetball court, and get to some shots that two months ago I would have participated in spectator fashion. Neither one of my above-mentioned racquetball buddies could play yesterday (even though I had the court reserved), so I invited my friend, former student of mine, and current small-group member to play. He is a former Green Beret, and has a son who is one of the best high school tennis players in the state of Missouri. It was a matter of personal joy to beat him three matches in a row!
Rose and I made a quick trip to St. Louis last weekend to watch the beloved Cubs lose at the Evil Bird Arena. I so want the Cubs to do well, but I am too honest even to say “Wait ’til next year!” I hope my trust in Theo and Gang will be rewarded in a couple years, as the Cubs have some great prospects in the minors. We’ll have to wait and see. Regarding the Cubs, I revisited a chapter from the book, Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Batter’s Box, particularly chapter 3, written by University of Arkansas professor, Thomas D. Senor, titled “Should Cubs Fans Be Committed? What Bleacher Bums Have to Teach us about the Nature of Faith.” The double entendre in the title of the chapter is well-intentioned. Perhaps being a Cubs fan is the reason I did not like Kyle Idleman’s point in his 2011 book, Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Idleman’s point, of course, was to make people fully committed to Jesus, rather than just being a fan of him. His critique of fans are what we might call jump-on-the-bandwagon fans. Chicago Cubs fans are a different variety. For the past several years, no bandwagon has come remotely close to the North Side of Chicago, upon which one might consider jumping. I am a professed follower of Jesus. That is not in question. My conclusion to Idleman’s description of fans, only left me with the conclusion that I am also a follower of the Chicago Cubs. Should I be committed? Perhaps!
At any rate, I look forward to May 21, when I will be in the stands of the Friendly Confines, accompanied by my 3rd grandson, Sam. I will look forward to meeting with dear friends in the Joliet area on Wednesday night. Sam and I will stay with my long-time forwarding agent and dear friend, Lola Mitchell. She will have a number of friends over that evening. On Thursday morning, Sam and I will meet with Matt Summers (Crossroads Christian Church of Joliet) and Dallas Henry (First Christian Church of Wilmington). Matt and Dallas are both graduates of Ozark Christian College. After breakfast, Sam and I will head back home to Southwest Missouri.
The NBA playoffs will get started this weekend. Chicago Bulls fans started the season with optimism, as Derrick Rose was back from his entire season hiatus. When he was injured again just a few games into this season, many lost hope. The Bulls have a first round matchup against the Washington Wizards. Everybody expects the Bulls to win that series. The 2nd round against the Indiana Pacers, or the championship round, likely against the Miami Heat, will be the difficult rounds. In this morning’s Chicago Sun-Times, Joe Cowley gives a series prediction, calling for the Bulls to win in 5 games. He amused me when he compared Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau with Wizards coach Randy Wittman:
Randy Wittman vs. Tom Thibodeau: One coach is playing checkers, hoping to get lucky on a double jump, while the other is playing chess and going bishop to knight 2. Give Thibodeau Washington’s roster, and they would’ve finished with the No. 1 seed in the East.
Thibs’ never say die attitude may mark the difference in these playoff series.
My Summer Trip to Chile
A couple months ago, I made a commitment to teach an intensive course for the Instituto Bíblico Iberoamericano in Chile, during the first week of August. The last trip I took like that was paid for by an organization that raised money to send professors to teach courses around the world. That organization ceased to operate in 2013. This trip will cost at least $2000 (I’m amazed by how much more expensive it is to travel these days).
I have begun to write a letter that I thought I would send to some friends and former supporters (individuals and churches) to seek some help in making this trip. About ten days ago, I casually mentioned to one of my colleagues my plan for this trip, and my need. Yesterday, I was blown away, as I was given a check to help me meet more than 20% of the expenses of the trip. Assuming that this blog may have a readership of about 3-4 people, I thought I would mention it here. I’m committed to go, but have not purchased tickets yet. If you might be interested in helping me, either by prayer, or financially, I have prepared a document where you can easily communicate that intention. You could fill in a survey here: LINK TO GOOGLE DOC CREATED BY DAVID FISH.