Ever Try Reading … The Apocrypha?

The Apocrypha is a word that means ‘hidden’.  Although not particularly accurate in this case, this is what several books are referred to that were written in the time between the Old Testament and New Testament eras (although one or two were likely written during or even after the NT was completed); it can also be referred to as the ‘OT Apocrypha’.  There are 18 total books in the Apocrypha (as referred to by Protestants).  They are: 1, 2, 3, and 4 Maccabees, 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Letter of Jeremiah, Baruch, Additions to Esther (Greek), Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews (in Daniel ch. 3), Susanna & Bel and the Dragon (chapters 13 & 14 of Daniel, respectively), Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Ben-Sirach (a.k.a. Ecclesiasticus), Prayer of Manasseh, and Psalms 151.  

I had heard of the Apocrypha for most of my life (my dad told me about it when I was little; I only knew just a little of it then).  I had never read it until this past year; I recently finished, so I decided to post some about it.  It took a while to finish reading, as I tended to stray away and back again over the year; it is actually about the same length as the NT, so it is not very long, relatively speaking.  I decided to read it in the Good News Translation with Deutercanonicals / Apocrypha from the American Bible Society; this is a modern language version that I especially like.  It is extremely straightforward and easy to read.  For the meticulous student, however, there are other translations that might be more appealing (I will mention some that I know of later in this post). 

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Published in: on August 8, 2007 at 2:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Talk About a Strange Interest for me … Evolution

My posting is at an all time low at the moment … almost 3 weeks since I posted on July 10!  Anyhow, a strange leftover from our vacation to TN involves my determination to understand both sides of a debate that I have already chosen sides on:  Biological Evolution.  With that said, I have some background info. first: (more…)

Published in: on July 30, 2007 at 2:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Data Crystal

A show I really enjoy watching is the sci-fi series Babylon 5.  It originally aired between 1993 and 1998 (not counting the short-lived sequel, Crusade, and a handful of made for TV movies).  I now have to (sigh) resort to watching it on the DVD sets that I have collected when I get the urge.  One story device that made a fairly frequent appearance was the “data crystal”. It always seemed like there was a massive amount of information that needed to be preserved (and transferred to somewhere by hand, no less), so a “data crystal” was always used for this purpose.  Our present-day “data crystals”, CD-ROMs and DVDs, serve a similar purpose.  This post is simply to convey my amazement at how much information can be stored on these things.

I recently acquired The Essential IVP (InterVarsity Press) Reference Collection, a CD with 13 large and 4 small reference books by IVP on it.  This is quite astonishing, if you think about it — the package mentions that there are over 10 million words (!) of “quality content” on the CD; this also translates to “over 12,000 pages of printed material in one convenient package”!  Wow.  Furthermore, as you would expect, there are terrific search features that essentially weave all the books into one giant reference book.  And, there are many features that I have not begun to explore, but I have seen enough to marvel at it.  (Kim surely smiles when she thinks that I got this CD instead of more copious quantities of paper to store somewhere in our house!)  The neat thing is that I was interested in buying several of these books in paper form, before I came across the CD.   Which reminds me of yet another benefit to the CD: so many books for so little (relatively speaking) $$ !!  Four of the IVP academic dictionaries that I considered buying cost as much as this 17 volume set! 

I really look forward to utilizing this great tool (along with my QuickVerse version 6 (ca. 1999!)) in order to understand God’s Word better.  What a great invention the CD is!

Published in: on March 27, 2007 at 3:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Life Group Changes (Christian History 101?)

This past Sunday we had a somewhat uneventful Life Group meeting.  No sparks flew.  No hard feelings were expressed.  In general it was a very smooth flowing, relatively uninterrupted (by children, that is) discussion among most of the core group.  Now that we had a somewhat uneventful group is not unusual; what was great about this meeting is that a few incremental changes were decided on that could really kick off a new era for our group.

 The biggest change is that, once a month, the men will take charge of the kids so that the women can have their own prayer fellowship / study time / accountability time.  (more…)

Published in: on March 6, 2007 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Unity, Part IV

This is my final post on this topic … for now.  I wanted to say a few things about what the early church actually looked like.  Was it a picture of unity?  NO.  Why not?  Because people were involved.  So, WHY would the Restoration Movement seek to “restore the early church”?  Or perhaps the question is, WHAT about the first century church did it seek to restore?  Loren’s sermon on Oct. 1 mentioned that the Restoration Movement, at least in the Church of Christ (CoC) apparently has tried to restore some kind of pattern for being a church.  (more…)

Published in: on October 8, 2006 at 7:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unity, Part III

The next thing I wanted to express a few things about is fellowship.  Exactly what does constitute fellowship?  What I mean is: Who is a Christian?  That is, who should be acknowledged by anyone in the Restoration Movement as so, without debate?  Now this is where things can get extremely controversial to a Church of Christ (CoC) member.   First off, I must say that there is a very clear line to be drawn in the sand about a few things. (more…)

Published in: on October 7, 2006 at 10:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unity, Part II

This unity movement that seems to be gathering some momentum is heartening to me.  I also remembered that there is yet another movement for unity that is occurring between the International Churches of Christ (formerly the Boston / Crossroads movement).  It seems that the Lord is concerned about unity more than ever in our increasingly secular and hostile culture.  It is about time that we began taking this seriously if the Christian faith in general is going to survive in our land.  All evangelical, conservative Christian groups are losing ground in America.  Postmodern America, which has NO concept of right and wrong, simply rejects the message of Christ, or rather rejects the Christians whose actions overwhelm their words.  In other words, the big problem with Christianity in America and with the restoration movement / Church of Christ is our hypocrisy.

For the years that I have spent in the Churches of Christ (CoC), I found that you spent an inordinate amount of time dealing with the “unwritten rulebook”.  That is, you’d better know the things that are ‘Silent’-ly revered in the CoC.  The comments from Loren’s sermon on Oct. 1. never were more true.  The restoration movement’s battle-cry has always been ‘Speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent’.  (more…)

Published in: on October 7, 2006 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Unity, Part I

Today is October 1. There was quite a significant sermon today at church.  Loren Scott preached the sermon.  He made a comment early on that, until today, of all the times that he had preached or taught in the congregation, that his most important sermon was the one following Sept. 11, 2001.  I agree.  It was one of the best sermons that I had ever heard.  (more…)

Published in: on October 2, 2006 at 3:09 am  Leave a Comment  

A tale of two churches (or three)

Today is Father's Day, and, somewhat predictably, the sermon was about fathers.  Now I have been really impressed by Eddie's preaching: he really has a gift for it.  Today's father's day sermon was a masterpiece that moved me.  The scripture was from Mark 5:21-43:  the story of two daughters in desperate trouble.  The story of Jairus, his daughter (12 years old), and the woman with the medical trouble (for 12 years — !) took on a new meaning for me.  The stories are familiar, except the new twist to me was that, just as Jesus's hands healed a dead girl and a woman, we are the hands of Christ now — the church.  The sermon closed in an especially moving way as Eddie read a heartfelt letter from a daughter to her dad.  The part that I didn't see coming was that the story of the girl and her very bad decisions growing up would turn out to be someone I know at church!!  (more…)

Published in: on June 19, 2006 at 3:46 am  Leave a Comment  

A weekend adventure

This weekend was the couples / young families camp out at Camp Smiling Acres.  The weather was spectacular: low humidity and temperature!   The territory is uneven, so we had a slight taste of hilly terrain: a welcome sight! No trouble was experienced with any bugs or critters.  The kids all had a lot of fun with their friends.  Isaac and Bailey were hard to locate since they had a "pack" that they were running around with.  We kept a pretty close eye on Olivia; she had limited freedom to roam, but had a lot of fun as well.  Anna Grace got to eat and sleep, so life was great for her too.  Kim and I were able to visit with friends in a non-timetable conscious mode — a definite luxury.  I even had a chance to play frisbee golf (disc golf to enthusiasts).  There is a newly built 9-hole course that is a challenge.  At least 3 of the 9 favor south-paws.  Anyhow it was great fun; I haven't played in 4 or 5 years!  We ate smores, played camp games like sack race (I didn't fall: this is equivalent to winning in my mind), and softball / tee-ball.  The Lord really blessed our time there.  We really love and appreciate our church family and friends; we are extremely thankful to be a part of the South Baton Rouge church.

On the way back, I thought this might be our golden chance to see the damage in New Orleans.  There is a route from camp that brought us to I-55.  Since we were in travel mode, we took advantage of it and went.  Traffic flowed extremely well; this was great and unexpected since we've heard horror stories of weekday traffic in and out of the city.  We drove down I-10 East to I-610 East.  We took I-610 to the Elysian Fields exit.  From the bottom of the ramp we turned left and immediately faced what appeared to be a scrap yard of cars under the interstate.  Going down Elysian, we at times could make out where the waterline was: probably at least 6 feet high in spots we saw.  It was pretty sad.  So many houses did not appear to have residents yet — if ever.  We did see numerous trash piles on the outside of some houses — perhaps an indicator that they will rebuild.  Kim speculated that blue roofs — and we saw several along the interstate — might also be an indicator that the owners likely want to rebuild / repair.  There was generally a bustle of activity in most places down Elysian, but spaces of no people out at all.  We turned around at Lakeshore Drive at the University of New Orleans.  It was pretty emotional to see all the devastation.  This was our first visit to New Orleans in over a year; Katrina came nearly 8 months ago.  The mayoral election had just taken place:  the incumbent, Mayor Ray Nagin, will be in a runoff election with challenger Mitch Landrieu, the lieutenant governor of the state.  I am glad we made the trip, but sad as well; the memories flooded in (no pun intended): it is still extremely moving.

All things considered, it was a great weekend at the camp and a great time of pause and reflection from our trip to the city.

Published in: on April 23, 2006 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment