Sunday, August 13, 2017

Philemon and OIA

We're taking advantage of our three-week study of Philemon to add to the tools in our Bible study toolkit. We're going to be using a variation of the inductive study method (so-called) presented by Peter Krol in his book, "Knowable Word". The method is straightforward in its approach and very accessible to anyone wanting to learn to study on their own.

The acronym, OIA, stands for three steps in your study:

Observation - what does it say?
Interpretation - what does it mean?
Application - how should I change?

These could also be defined as "what", "why", and "so what"; or as "what the original author said", "what that meant to the original audience", and "what it means in our context".

While I generally organize my study a little differently than Peter Krol has presented it, I think we'll benefit from trying this out.

You can purchase the book, but Peter has kindly provide a summary guide that you can use as a reference. We handed out a few in class today, but you can print it from here.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Some New Testament Prayers

This is the first post for the new Sunday Community study on the Disciples' Prayer. Posts for this study will be available sometime during the week for the following Sunday and may contain supplemental information for the study that isn't in the study guide. And sometimes they may just be placeholders where you can post comments.

This week, as part of the study you were asked to look for a prayer from the New Testament and compare it to the Disciples' Prayer. Here are some possible passages you could choose.

  • Acts 7:59-60
  • Ephesians 3:14-21
  • Colossians 1:9-12
  • Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Philippians 1:3-11
  • Jude 1:24-25
As is true of every post, you are welcome to post a comment for me or for other members of the Sunday Community.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


I'm sitting at my computer this morning, and the sound of the rain is heavy on the metal roofs that cover the cars in the parking lot outside my window. "Lotta rain. A whole lotta rain." For a moment, the sound is pounding down on my perspective as hard as the rain on the roofs.

As the tribes of Israel prepared to cross the Jordan into Palestine, Moses preached the Law to them. In a passage on loving and obeying the Lord your God, he delivered these words: "For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year." (Deuteronomy 11:10-12 ESV)

I try to imagine how the Old Testament might read if the Willamette Valley was the promised land. For those who came west in the 1800s it was the promised land. Would the images of soil, trees, rivers, mountains, and sea have been the dominant ones? Would it have been a land flowing with fish and farmland? Would sunshine have been the asked for blessing? Or would rain have remained high on the list of God's blessings?

Sitting here at the computer, where the rain this morning feels more nuisance than anything else, I need a promised land perspective. My life is like the land that God cares for. His eyes are always upon it. I need to drink the water from heaven.

That's the perspective I need. With so much that I am thankful for on this day, I can add the sound of the rain to my thanksgivings. And relish the soaking it portends.

- Thanksgiving 2016.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Creating Application Statements or How do I make a circle and spokes for Q3?

I want to expand the description for developing application statements given in Q3 of the study guide for Session 8 of Tales of the Sea. The basic idea is that once we've developed a biblical principle from the text, we need to consider practical ways to apply that principle to our life.

Application implies doing, even when that doing may involve our mental or emotional capacities instead of or in addition to actions we might take. For example, suppose developed a principle from Jonah's prayer in the fish such as "In all circumstances I can remember Who God is and praise Him." The doing for this principle might include a re-examination of my current circumstances in light of this fresh perspective. It might include a decision to start every morning reading a psalm, or singing a song. In this case, I've identified some mental processing, and a physical action as part of the application of the principle.

Sometimes it's a pretty straightforward process to move from a principle to application. If I'm reminded of the value God places on forgiveness and there's a situation in my life that requires my forgiveness, then extending forgiveness in the situation is exactly what I need to do. Having said that, it might still be difficult to forgive in this situation, so my application might involve actions that prepare me to do so -- praying for a forgiving spirit, talking to someone who can help talk me through it, considering the forgiveness I've received, etc. Application is generally not a one-time, there I did it, activity.

What about the situation where I'm not quite sure how the principle applies to my life, or I'm pretty sure I'm not considering the principle as thoroughly as I might. That's where the concept of the circle and spokes can be useful. The idea behind this technique is to take the principle and examine it in light of all areas of my life. The principle is written in the circle, and the spokes define different areas of my life. The most important consideration after developing the principle is figuring out "What are the areas of my life?"

In the study guide, I've given you three lists that are someone's approach to dividing up a life into areas and activities that cover the bases. This would be their idea of what the spokes should be. OK, so the first set is not just "someone's" approach, but Jesus' way of looking at the aspects of our being -- heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let's use that approach to work through the process of developing personal application steps from a principle we've discovered in the book of Jonah.

In the picture above, I've drawn a circle and spoke approach for the principle (1) Go where and when God calls me. The spokes (2) for heart, soul, mind, and strength have been added to the drawing. Now, I just have to do some serious thinking about all of this.

I understand strength to be about my resources - physical strength, health, financial assets, skills, etc. (Remember this is my list and yours may differ.) One of my conclusions is that I'm out of shape -- physically and financially -- to be able to easily drop what I'm doing to go a long distance from where I am, say to Nineveh. This doesn't mean I should just avoid answering a true call, but it does mean that there is work I should be doing with an understanding of the potential call to a really big life change. I can also see that I don't always fully engage my strength in my going now. (This blog entry could have been written on Monday, not this morning.)

Hopefully, you can see how moving around the spokes will surface related, but different application steps to consider for this principle.

And that is what the circle and spokes are all about. While you can use one of the lists of spokes from Q3, you may want to develop your own list. Or maybe you already have one that you gleaned somewhere else or have already developed. Just make sure the list is thorough when it comes to thinking about how, and where, you live your life.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Three Reads - What in the world is Jim asking us to do this week?

What in the world is Jim asking us to do this week?

That's a great question. As part of this study on Jonah, I wanted to make sure that we spent a little time brushing up on our bible study skills. The tricky part of doing that inside a short study of a book like Jonah is that there's no time to do the setup work for the work you'll do between sessions, unless we take one session to review the elements of studying the bible. That would take an extra week, and I really wanted us to keep up the pace we've set in our look at Tales of the Sea.

I also know that for many of you, most of what we'll be doing is something you have practiced in the past, or practice all the time.

So, I thought we'd do things a little differently this time when studying Jonah and I wouldn't burden you with a lot of "instruction" on technique, but just have you jump into the text. I also hope you can enjoy the text as the text, and let it speak directly to you.

These few blog entries will provide a means to give you just a bit more direction if you'd like to have it.

Case in point.
One way to look at bible study that resonates with me is describe in David L. Thompson's book, Bible Study that Works. He reduces the suggestions for bible study down to two questions: 1) "What, as a matter of fact, did the authors intend to say to their first readers?" 2) "What does that have to do with us and our world?"

In answering the first question we have to look carefully at the text. In doing that we'll look at both content and structure.

This week we're looking at the content. And that's the short answer to the question "what are we doing this week?"

The literary read.
Estimates are that somewhere between 40% and 60% of the bible is narrative/history. What this means to us is that narrative is a major approach God has used to reveal himself to us. One of the skills that I hope we are building during our Tales of the Sea study is the ability to get great value of the narratives we're reading.

This is why one of your readings this week should include looking at the story of Jonah from a literary point of view. I had a question from one of our group members about what are we looking for when looking at "narration". Narration is a term that basically means the recounting of the series of facts and events in a story. When we look at the narration we're discovering who the narrator is, what the point of view of the narrator is, and other elements such as the pace of the telling.

Here's a link to an assignment for students to write a literary analysis. It includes a brief introduction to many of the literary elements in a story. Pay attention to the information contained in Step 1.

Still confused?
Send me an email, or add comment to this post. We'll be reviewing this in context as we meet together this week.

And, really, enjoy the book of Jonah this week.