Tag Archives: Books

Putting It All Together

My original title for this was going to be something along the lines of, “Why not Peter with Jesus.” The basic premise was this. Peter cuts off the ear of Malchus. Jesus heals Malchus. Soldiers do not arrest Peter and execute him with Jesus. I started thinking about this incident yesterday and how to me Peter not being arrested made no sense and if you only read John, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”[a] Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus[b] said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant[c] and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews[d] arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door.

John 18:3 – 16

Can you imagine that conversation?

Malchus: “Holy crap! That crazy Jew just cut off my ear!”

Soldier: “Stop being such a baby Malchus. It’s just a flesh wound. You’ll be fine.”

Malchus: “Are….are you sure?”

Soldier: “Yes, Malchus.”

Malchus: “Oh, okay. If, if you say so.”

Doesn’t seem terribly plausible does it. But without any other information, what are we to assume? The Romans wouldn’t put up with this. Peter would be right there with Jesus on Cross. There wouldn’t be any ifs, ands, or buts about it. Thankfully, Luke gives us a few more details on the matter.

47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.

Luke 22:47 – 54

Okay, Jesus heals the dude. Pretty incredible and it seems plausible that they would be so awestruck by what they witness that they may have forgotten about Peter. Then again, these were Roman soldiers, so it doesn’t seem that plausible.

Soldier One: “That guy cut off Malchus’ ear!”

Soldier Two: “Yeah, but this Jesus guy made it all better.”

Soldier One: “I don’t care! He attacked a Roman soldier and cut off is ear. That’s not gonna fly.”

This conversation seems much more likely, but again, the guards don’t go after Peter. As awestruck as they may have been, there’s still simply no way that they wouldn’t have arrested Peter on the spot. They’d have been all like, “Well, that was cool. Still, we can’t have you running around mucking things up now, can we. You’re clearly a threat to Rome. Off with us you come.” Perhaps one of the other Gospels could shed some more light on the subject matter.

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.”[f] Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant[g] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Matthew 26:47 – 56

Oh, thank you, Matthew. Luke and John suddenly make more sense now. The disciples suddenly running away ties everything together quite well. Peter cuts off an ear, Jesus heals it, and in all of it the disciples scatter. The Roman soldiers are all like, “Wut!?” but in the end, they got what they came for. Malchus is fine and Peter is presumably gone. What are they to gain by sending resources after him? How are they to convince Pontius of using their resources to find him?

Soldier: “They cut Malchus’ ear off.”
Pontius eyes Malchus suspiciously.
Malchus: “I got better.”

When you put Luke, John, and Matthew together, Peter not being crucified with Jesus doesn’t seem so far fetched anymore. Like Chris Rosebrough says on Fighting for the Faith, the three rules for good discernment are context, context, context.

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Daily Edification

A while ago I picked up the Treasury of Daily Prayer. At the time, I had difficulty understanding exactly how I was supposed to use it and eventually, put it aside, practically forgetting about it. In recent months and ever perhaps year or so, I’ve been slowly but surely attempting to simplify my life. It’s been a process, especially after having constantly added more and more into it over the years. However, I’ve been grudgingly re-evaluating my priorities and attempting to get rid of things I do not need or use. A delightful side effect of this is that things that once held great appeal to me hold it less so. When my time is free, I am now less likely to go after the forms of entertainment that I used to (although I still have my programs that I watch and games I like to play).

So when those free moments come, I find myself reaching for those items I have neglected. Namely the Book of Concord and the Treasury of Daily Prayer. Though I don’t get to them every day, I find myself far more engaged in the scriptures and understanding of my theology. Since I have been in the process of simplifying my life, I find I am much better able to focus and understand them, not being distracted my nonsense that may or may not even be there. To put it simply, I am finding it much more edifying that I have in the past. By this I mean I am seeing things that I would’ve simply read but not registered. I am coming to better understanding. As this becomes more habitual, I suspect that I shall better be able to focus on the scriptures directly, though I make no guarantees about Numbers. 😉

I must say, this idea of simplifying my life came from minimalism. Though I am not advocating minimalism (believe me, I am no minimalist), it has a lot of great points. Once I started cutting the crap, I found I could better focus on the things that matter. Things like reading the scriptures and doctrines became a delight instead of a chore. Somehow roughly half an hour seemed to open up for me in the morning even though I still get up at the same time and follow the same routine. I suspect I was on my phone more than I would like to believe. Now when I see that I have time, I will take a bit of time before work to sit down with the Treasury of Daily Prayer or the Book of Concord if I have more.

I generally try to stay away from things that aren’t directly related to theology on here, but in this case I think I’ll make an exception. Cut some of the unnecessary crap from your life. Throw things away. T-Shirts, movies, etc. As stuff goes away, I suspect you’ll find things a bit more peaceful and it will become easier to get some daily edification. We all need it, and most of us don’t get nearly what we should.

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Little Nudges

Sometimes we are presented with little nudges towards where we need to go or what we should be doing. At times, those nudges are for something we should be doing to begin with. We all stumble, often time more than we’d like to admit. My nudge comes in the form of my second child encouraging me to get back into regularly reading the scriptures.

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When my daughter was born, I held her in my arms and read chapter one of Genesis to her. It was a touching moment and something I had pledged to do long before she was born. It just somehow seemed appropriate.

WP_20130919_018 Genesis 1 on the day she was born.

Yet now with a second child a mere six or seven months away, I want to do the same thing but I have yet to figure out what I shall chose for him or her.

Ottheinrich_Folio296r_Rev13 Really hoping I don’t find some years down the road that the appropriate scripture should’ve been Revelation 13.

I suppose this presents me with a good opportunity to buckle down on scripture, something I’ve been neglecting a bit lately. It’s interesting to see how these little nudges come when they’re needed. Now, I’m not saying it’s some cosmic force that’s pushing me into immersing myself into…

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Help without words

I helped an old man with the Bible yesterday. Honestly, I was caught completely off guard by his question. He walked in with his Android phone and I asked what I could do for him.

“How do I work the Bible button?”

At first, I thought I had misheard him as there is no Bible button and I’m sure there would be mass protests in the streets if Motorola attempted such a thing. I had to ask him again to be sure I had heard correctly and when he said it again I was positive that I was mishearing something. So upon receiving his phone I saw that he was in fact referring to a Bible app that had somehow been grouped with another app. My initial thought was this must be the problem and uncoupled the apps for his ease of use. Then I opened the app and to make sure he was able to use it.

“Hold on!” he protested. “I forgot something.”

The old man ran out to his car and came back with what I immediately recognized as scripture readings from any given Sunday. I didn’t get a long glimpse, but I don’t think he was Baptist as they didn’t resemble any of the formats that the Baptist churches in I’ve been to in my area. It appeared to be a bit more traditional from my estimation. I suppose I could’ve asked him his denomination, but politics and religion are generally frowned upon topics in the workplace. Especially when there are other customers around.

Anyhow, I tried helping him with the app and even searching the scriptures he had brought out from his car. I say tried because whoever designed the app did a very poor job. There seemed to be no real logic to it and even had buttons that didn’t function. I suggested he let me put a better app on his phone which he agreed. So I installed the app that I recently started using in my personal phone and it was such a verse showing him how to use it. He was thrilled with all the functionality of it. That is until I showed him how to switch between translations (the default being KJV).

“I don’t NEED any other version! ” he snapped angrily.

Okay, definitely not Lutheran.

Suffice to say, he was very happy that he could now use the scriptures on his phone. Judging from what he brought in, this was going to be a big help for him in church. While I’ve never been able to get behind the King James Version (I don’t care what anyone says, it’s not the same language), I’m glad to have been able to help someone in their Christian walk. I think perhaps something that we as Christians don’t always consider is that we can help people in their walk with Christ even when we’re not in a situation where we adequately talk to them about it. The tools we have at our disposal in this day and age are astounding. Sometimes we just need to give someone the right tool.

I honestly don’t know how he’ll be using the new app I put on his phone, but he left me with an impression that the app is going to help him be more involved in the word and his church.

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A Little Paraphrase is a Dangerous Thing

Paraphrasing can be a useful thing.  For example, you need to convey an idea that someone had said, but you don’t have the source directly in front of you.  In this scenario, paraphrase can be used to convey that thought without actually quoting.  Let’s say for instances a pal was starting a motorcycle rodeo and he wanted you to get the word out.  So you go tell your friends, but you forget what a motorcycle is called, so you tell your friends that he’s starting a rodeo with gas powered bicycles.  No, that’s not what your friend said, but it’s the same idea and the friends you’re telling will understand what it’s all about.  In such situations, paraphrase is a very useful and good thing.  But what if your source is a paraphrase?  Wouldn’t you then be conveying your thoughts of a secondhand opinion of the original idea?  Why would you ever go to a paraphrase when you can have the source directly at your finger tips?

Of course, I’m talking about The Message.  For those who are uninitiated, The Message is paraphrase of the Bible, not a translation but a paraphrase.  If you’re not sure why that’s terrifying, let me give you an example.  Below is Mark 8:34-37 in both The Message and the ESV.  You’ll notice how they say two completely different things.

The Message

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

English Standard Version

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?

Can you see the problem here?  While it may seem similar at first, it is far from the same message.  If you are honest with yourself, you’ll see that these two versions have a completely different messages.  In fact, the only portion of these two that is even remotely similar is the very last question.  And this is not ESV VS MSG.  This is the ESV, NLT, NIV, KJV, and all the other translations VS The Message paraphrase.  So I ask you, why would you ever use a paraphrase when you can have a perfectly good translation at your fingertips?

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There is Only One Gospel

Despite how people may think, there are not four gospels in the Bible; there’s only one. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not each speak of a different gospel. In fact, there is no gospel of any of these these writers. The only gospel there is is that of Jesus Christ who was born of the virgin Mary, executed on the cross by Pontius Pilate, died, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day for your sins. Perhaps the books of our four gospel writers would better be listed as “Mark’s Account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” as opposed to the “The Gospel of Mark.”

Remember, there’s only one gospel and if anyone comes to you preaching another, let him be anathema.

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A Statement of Generic Faith

Do you know what your church really believes?  If you don’t, you can probably check their website.  Odds are they have a page titled Statement of Faith or Our Core Beliefs or something to that effect.  Wow.  A whole page.  I’ve seen a lot of these Statements of Faith and they’re all about the same.

I believe in the holy trinity.

I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins.

I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Etc.

It’s usually just really basic stuff with a few extra things that differentiate them the other denominations, but generally nothing very detailed.  So how do you know what they really believe?  I mean, if you’ve got just a general blanket statement, how do you ensure all your pastors are teaching the same thing?  How do you keep unity?  How do you handle communion?  How do you trust that anyone in your congregation actually believes the same thing you do?

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This is my statement of faith.  You could probably kill a small child with it.  Your standard non-denominational statement, on the other hand, will at worst give you a mean paper cut depending on what kind of stock you print it on.  It’s cut and clear.  The Lutheran Confessions are something you can hold people to.  There’s no wiggle room.  You either agree or you don’t.    There’s no “I believe most of what it says, but the way they handle communion is a bit too much.”  If you don’t believe it all, you’re not Lutheran.

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The Christian Section is a Lie

Go into any Barnes & Noble and you’ll see five sections of Christian books, one on Islam, and one that contains all the rest, Hinduism, Judaism, etc. To the untrained eye, it might seem that Christianity gets quite an unfair advantage over other religions. However, has the discerning viewer will notice, it’s the other faiths who have the unfair advantage. Aside from the C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, St. Augustine, and a few others, it’s mostly riddled with heresy. Between Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick, T.D. Jakes, Rick Warren and countless others, you’ll find that you have a perfect recipe to lead you away from Christ all under the guise of Christianity. Not even the one section that is nothing but Bibles is safe, what with The Green Bible designed to point you to the environment instead of Christ and The Message Paraphrase. And it’s not just Barnes & Noble. Other bookstores, even Christian book stores are not safe from this scourge. My friends, the Christian section is a dangerous place.

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