Deuteronomy 30:19-20

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Sunday Blog?

It may appear as if this blog has turned into a Sunday thing. For three Sunday's in a row now, I have only posted on Sunday. But that is not because I have given up on the blog. The main reason why I have only managed a few posts here and there lately is because I have not had time to post. School has really picked up these past few weeks. I have had 3 major papers, all 10+ pages, one almost hitting 20. I have been finishing many novels and other textbooks to finish out the semester. And I have had to study Greek more and more to make sure I tie up all the loose ends before the final, which is tomorrow.

But hopefully, I am back to writing. Hopefully, I will be able to find some time tomorrow to post some more. As I said, there are a few books that I have finished that I want to talk about, The Power and the Glory, Winesburg, Ohio, and a commentary on John. Also, I have a new series for Biblical Reflections from John and Proverbs that will go along with the Pastoral Epistles that I am still working on. There was another exciting race last night to write about as well. And the world has many good news stories that I have not yet mentioned or given my take on recently.

So that should all keep me fairly busy in the coming weeks. Hopefully this Sunday trend will die tonight and a new post will come tomorrow or later this week.

One last thing... I am heading back to the Daycare next week, where I was last summer. So I should have plenty of stories and exciting updates from there as the summer begins. Hope to be on here soon, don't neglect to check in this week because I do not feel like I will wait until Sunday this time.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Lady in Black

The Lady in Black is the Track that is Too Tough to Tame... Darlington.

This year marked the return of the Southern 500 at Darlington Motorspeedway. A track that has had many memorable wins. Darrel Waltrip crossed the finish line and blew up. Bill Elliot one the first Winston Million over 20 years ago. Jeff Gordon won a Million Dollars as well over 10 years ago, accumulating wins at certain tracks that put him in position to win that million at Darlington.

But in 2004 history came to a stand still when the last Southern 500 was raced there. But now, 5 years later, NASCAR has brought the Southern 500 back, and they raced it last night, under the lights, with their moms present at the track. The walls were repainted to look like the old walls from many years ago. This was also the old colors of the sport when Winston sponsored the Cup series. The race was already set up for a historical night.

In the race, Jimmie Johnson started 42nd and raced his way to 1st, finishing 2nd. Some clever pit strategy, along with overcoming being 1 lap down put him at the top. Jeff Gordon started 2nd, had a loose wheel, went a lap down, and was able to recover as well, finishing 5th. Many of the drivers who started in the front fell to the back through wrecks, penalties, and bad setups. The young guns, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski raced their way to the top 10, hanging out there for the majority of the race. And Mark Martin, the oldest driver on the track charged to the front, winning his second race this season.

Hendrick Motorsports is dominating this year. They have now won 5 out of the 11 races so far, almost 50%. Last night they took home 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 7th. They also got 3rd and 4th with cars that they supply engines for. 6 out of the top 7 is not too bad. It seems like they are on their way to securing another championship. But the question is... who will it be? Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, or Jeff Gordon? They all have a great chance at bringing it home in 2009. We are now 15 races from the chase. Who knows what will happen next.

This Saturday is the All-Star race, what is always a memorable night!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

9. The Pastoral Epistles - 1 Timothy 5:1-16

1 Timothy 5:1-16

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.

The topic of widows in the church: what role do they play and how are they to be treated?

Well the chapter begins with a general introduction about the different groups of people that make up the church and how they are to be seen and cared for. Paul makes 4 early comparisons:
  1. Older men should be respected as a father.
  2. Younger men should be viewed as brothers, not placing yourself above them.
  3. Older women should be treated gently as a mother.
  4. Younger women should be protected like a sister, especially in purity.

But starting in v3, Paul focuses in on the women (picking up on the men later in the chapter). He discusses the importance of caring for the widows, a theme in the Bible that stretches way back into the Old Testament where God commonly commanded His people to care for the orphans and widows. Here, Paul commands the church to care for the widows in their church and community who are truly in need of help.

However, there is a qualifier. If the widow has a family still (children or grandchildren) then the family should be the ones who care for the widow. The responsibility falls on their shoulders. But if this support is not present for the widow, then Paul commands the church to step in and assume responsibility. Also, Paul says that these widows must be involved in the church, staying true to the faith. He commands the widows to basically do their part, continuing to grow in God, praying, reading Scripture, and living above reproach.

V9 throws an interesting twist to the passage that is disputed. Some say that this next section is about a group of widows who have a specific role in the church, a specific ministry. So the characteristics/qualities apply to those who can be in this leadership position. Others say that these are the qualifications for being considered on the list of widows that the church will support. I tend to side with the first explanation, but either way these are good, general qualities as to how a widow (and really anyone) should live.

Marriage is important, and here Paul commands "one husband." But since he later encourages younger widows to remarry, this must mean one husband at a time, not one husband in a lifetime. This shows that the woman has true commitment to her husband. She must also have a good reputation in good works, which will primarily be seen through the way she ministers to her family. She must also be humble, a servant, one who cares for those hurting around her. Again, these are all general characteristics that we could all follow.

The reason I think this list was for older women in the church to form a specific ministry is because they could care for and watch out for the younger widows of the church and aid any women struggling in life. But also, if this was a list for those who could receive support, then all women under 60 would be cut out, not receiving any support from the church, which would seem to contradict God's command to care for all widows. Although Paul commands the younger widows to remarry (because they still have that passion and it is better to be married), some might not remarry. So where would that leave them? Should the church then leave them out to dry?

This passage specifically deals with the church's relationship and care for widows, but it can apply to many other groups as well. We are a model of Christ, and Christ cared for all men who were hurting. We must do the same, helping anyone who needs help in this life. If we do not show the world the love of Christ, who will?


Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Moviegoer

I noticed that I have been posting a lot of book reviews recently, and it may seem overwhelming. But as it is now the end of the semester, we are finishing up on many of the "textbooks" that we have been using throughout the course of the semester. And many times my textbooks are just normal books that anyone might pick up and read. But as I have had two literature courses this semester, I have had a chance to read 7+ novels. This is number 6 or 7.

Walker Percy's The Moviegoer is an interesting read, and not quite what I expected. By the title, I expected it to be somewhat boring in that it would be about some character who enjoys the movies and would be recounting what he saw on screen. I thought that he might tie these movies into events in his life, but I wondered how much plot there would be in the story.
I was half-way right on what to expect, but the story was much better than I expected. Binx Bollings, the main character, is a stock broker who lives outside of New Orleans. He has an Aunt Emily and step-cousin Kate. Aunt Emily plays an important role in his life, being one of the main influential figures. But he does have a mother, whom is introduced later in the novel. But she remains unnamed. The "Smiths" are his family, and they are almost polar opposites of Aunt Emily's family.
Binx is a person who enjoys the movies and not books. There is only one novel that he claims to have read. He would rather spend his time watching the action take place rather than reading about it. So he visits the theatre quite frequently, tying scenes and actors from those movies into events in his life through the narration. But I was wrong in my initial judgment of the book in that there is a good plot line to the story.
Some of the conflicts in the novel deal with his relationship with Aunt Emily, how he feels about Kate, his relationship with his employees (females), the role of the Smith's in his life, and the sickness of one of his half-brothers. Binx has a lot to deal with in life, and the story traces about a year of his life as he deals with these various trials, which makes for an interesting read.
One last thing I want to point out is the use of cities in the novel. For those reading this that have gone to my church, you will be familiar with Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. That city is mentioned in the novel, which interested me. Then later on, Union City, Tennessee is mentioned as well. There is a salesman on the bus who talks about travelling from Murfreesboro to Union City. I clarified with my professor to make sure it was the Union City that I knew, and he assured me that it was. It was neat to read about places that I have either grown up near or visited in the past. All in all, I enjoyed this novel.