Monday, April 15, 2019


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  • Party Challenge
  • Matrix
  • Baptism/Testation
  • Subersion of Empire/In the Shadow of Herod
  • Which set of Ten Commandments?
  • Thesis of Kraybill?
  • Core message of Jesus?
  • Church plants
  • Set Theory
  • Ten Commandments are a W____?
  • Parables: Preview of Next Week
  • Help for Three Worlds Presentation Next Week

  • A man I know well had just gotten in a classic "first fight" with his wife. He did something uncharacteristic of him: He jumped in his car, and began speeding (literally) away from the situation.
    Because he was a believer, he at least had the sense to pray; even as in his fast car he was contradicting his belief. But he prayed, for some reason this prayer; "Lord, I really need to hear from you!"
    At that precise moment, a moment he was to remember the rest of his life, the man was strangely prompted to turn on the car radio. Immediately, a voice came over the radio:"Hey Leadfoot! Turn around, go back to your wife, and tell her you’re sorry!"Let me tell you, gentle reader; 

    When that happened to me….
    …I turned around, went back to my wife, and told her I was sorry!
    And it doesn’t change my theology of "God was speaking audibly and directly to me" at all to reveal the way God spoke. At the exact moment I was speeding away from home, and shot up that prayer while turning the dial on, a Christian disc jockey who was broadcasting live felt prompted to say:
    "Hey Leadfoot! Turn around, go back to your wife, and tell her you’re sorry!" link

  • ==

    Great job interpreting the text of the Matrix.  We watched the first half hour

-- Tell me what these clips from "The Matrix" (we watched in class have to do with today's
 topics: Jesus' birth, call,  baptism...or anything connected to the Bible or Jesus,  Watch all five short parts in a row,

part 1: white rabbit  (click to view)
part 2:  Neo meets Trinity
part 3:  choose your pill:
part 4: waking from the dream:
part 5: immersion into the Matrix

If interested in Christian symbolism in The Matrix, click:

Resources on "The Matrix"


What do you remember from this discussion on BAPTISM?

 Big Rich Texas Baptism:  real

Notes from FPU faculty Greg Camp and Laura Roberts:

All four gospels contain a version of Jesus’ baptism. Matthew records the story of Jesus’ baptism in chapter 3, Mark begins his gospel with the story in 1:1-11, Luke has the story in short form in 3:21-22, and John’s version is in 1:19-34.  How does this text further answer the question “Who is Jesus?” in Matthew?
 Read Matthew 3:1-17Begin with discussion of the worksheet and augment with notes below as needed. Matt transitions to Jesus’ adult ministry by introducing him at his baptism. Mt uses a common ancient literary device called syncresis, which means to make a judgment about something or someone by comparison. It is, in that sense, a simple comparison/contrast. There are 2 comparisons that are being made in chapter 3. One has to do with Jesus and John, the other with Jesus and the Pharisees/ Sadducees. The passage is structured in 3 sections. vv. 1-6 is a description of John and his message. John is presented as a fulfillment of a passage from Isaiah 40, where Israel is being called to return from exile. John is engaged in the same ministry as Isaiah, that of recalling the people. One might conclude that Mt is insinuating that while Israel returned from exile in they never fully returned to God. John’s appearance and location set him the liminal space of the wilderness, apart from Jerusalem society. He stands in the Jordan River, where Israel also would have crossed into the land as they returned. The place of baptism in the Jordan may draw the reader’s attention to the fresh start crossing the Jordan into the land represented for Israel.
 vv. 7-10 is a description of the Pharisees, Sadducees and others coming to John for baptism. John confronts them with a message of repentance that specifies the repentance must include acts of righteousness that demonstrate their repentance. The reference “God is able from these stones to raise up children of Abraham” may draw the readers attention to the 12 stones piled at the Jordan when Israelentered the land under Joshua’s leadership. The implication is that even stones can be made into children of Abraham. The difference is their acts have to reflect the righteousness characteristic of true repentance and change.
A brood of vipers refers to a hole in ground where snakes would lay eggs and cover them with dirt for incubation. The newly hatched snakes would remain in the ground undetected by those passing by. A misstep into such a nest could be fatal. The threat is unseen; the passerby thinks the ground is safe, but it is not.The reference to cutting down plants that do not bear fruit is a common analogy used throughout Matthew (for example 7:16-20, 13:24-30). vv 11-12 presents John comparing himself to “the one coming.”  The comparison is based on a greater than/ lesser than logic. John is lesser because he baptizes with water; the one coming is greater because he baptizes because he baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John is lesser because he is not worthy to carry the sandals of the one coming. John announces judgment, the one coming is actually able to bring judgment.
 vv 13-17 draws a comparison between Jesus and the Sadducees/ Phar and between J and John. Note the way that the Sadducees and Pharisees are greeted vs. how Jesus is greeted. (see worksheet) The comparison between Jesus and John involves John putting himself as the lesser in Jesus’ presence. Jesus’ enigmatic response allowing John to baptize him is said to “fulfill all righteousness.” How is this to be understood? Does Jesus need to be baptized in the same way others do? John’s is a baptism of repentance; is this what Jesus thinks he needs to do?
Repentance doesn’t only mean turning from inappropriate action, but also involves going in the direction you ought to be going. Jesus aligns himself with God’s purposes. The dynamics between John and Jesus would seem to indicate that part of God’s purpose is for J not to take the greater position but to place himself in the subservient position to John.  This is a crucial, initial assertion that we will see reiterated through Mt’s gospel, which links righteousness to a reversal of power relationships, and Jesus being the faithful, humble servant. Immediately following this action, the divine voice announces affirmation of this action and of Jesus’ identity as beloved son. This is what is expected of the son.

A good video from Ray Van Der Laan on Jesus vs. Herod below.

I often show this in Bible classes to show how much can be loaded into one verse that we gloss over, as it looks like just a boring historical marker.
But Matt. 2:1, "In the days of Herod, Jesus was born" is quite loaded, once we get the historical context.

Nobody has that verse on a bumper sticker or T-shirt, but it is full of meaning.

On our last trip to Israel, right outside our hotel window, we could see not only Bethlehem, but the Herodian,,,as you can see in this clip, every morning when we opened the blinds, we inevitably saw (as he would have wanted it) Herod's Herodian.
Once you
have seen the Van Der Laan video below, you'll get how powerful and prophetic object lesson that was.

Related post here.
Edited transcript of the video here.

Related Van Der Laan posts:

Van Der Laan Video, "In the Shadow of Herod,":

in  two parts here:
 Alternate version, more Christmas-themed
"The True Christmas Story:"


It has been hugely productive, revelational and (even) fun to, as part of a class that several others and I teach, have students plot out (on the whiteboard) their timeline.

As Pastor/Trucker Franks suggests below, sometimes it's "more about the journey than the destination."  

Previous classes:

Here is a timeline from a previous cohort,,Do you remember the shocking story about the  "Demise" Xs?

Jesus, TOO,  had a timeline and temptations..see  UPSIDE DOWN page 34:

Especially helpful is the suggestion by Donald Kraybill ("The Upside Down Kingdom") and Ray Van Der Laan (  video)  that throughout  his earthly life, Jesus was revisited by remixes of the original three temptations ("testations" ) of the devil"in chapter 4.

Kraybill provocatively proffers the following taxonomy of the temptations; suggesting that any later temptation Jesus faced (or we face) is at heart in one of these three spheres:

1=  Bread into stones: Economic 

2=Jump from temple and test God:Religious 

 3=Own all kingdoms: Political


  Bread into stones:  temptatio

Look at any temptations along your life timeline, and ask which of Jesus' temptation are each is  tied to.

"Jesus was tempted in every single way humans are..."(click here for the shocking source...but warning, it's a dangerous book for religious folk!) 


Devotional video

Which list of the Ten Commandments is the "real" list??

We joked you could win $100 by saying, :Let me read you a list of the Ten Commandments, the only list the Bible explicity calls the Ten Commandments.  Tell if this is the list.  A hundred bucks says I'm right.  Then read them the Ten Commandments from Exodus 34!!:

                      Exodus 20                                                                     Exodus 34: Note: this list, NOT THE 
                                                                                                       OTHER, is the one that says "THESE ARE    
                                                                                                        THE TEN COMMANDMENTS"                                                          

1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.
1. Thou shalt worship no idol. (For the Lord is a jealous god).  Smash all idols,
2. You shall not make for yourself a graven image. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
2. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. 3. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep in the month when the ear is on the corn.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
4. All the first-born are mine.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
5. Six days shalt thou work, but on the seventh thou shalt rest.
6. You shall not kill.
6. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, even of the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread.
8. You shall not steal.
8. The fat of my feast shall not remain all night until the morning.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
9. The first of the first fruits of thy ground thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.
10. You shall not covet.
10. Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother's milk.

These look only loosely related to the list we've all heard from Exodus 20...HMMM..

We got in groups by party and did three short assignments:

1)Second selective attention test (to follow up your for your first one on Moodle)

2)THESIS HUNT: Your Kraybill paper is due week 5.  See  instructions from syllabus: below.
Many students get the thesis wrong.  So each group tried to detect what is is

Analysis of Kraybill The Upside-Down Kingdom
 Write a  groovy 3-4 page, typed essay, analyzing The Upside-Down Kingdom using the following format. In one paragraph describe the main point (thesis) that Kraybill develops in his book (read the Preface!). Then select three chapters from among chapters 1 and 5-12, and show how Kraybill defends/develops his thesis in those chapters. (You may not use chapters 2, 3, or 4 for this assignment.) Finally, include two questions or issues the book raised for you, for use in class discussion. This assignment is a building block for the final paper. This assignment must be submitted to 

I asked each party to decide what the "core message" of Jesus (or the basic message of Christianity was on one word.  Lots of great answers,,but as usual no one gave the answer we are looking for

See the first 1:44 of this video as I read and explain what the answer is

Then a longer one:


Design an ad for a new church.  The ad should include:

-Name of church
-Vision or mission or purpose statement
-When and where it will meet
-A logo, illustration, picture, or symbol
-Anything else important to include

The catch: Don't just design the church however you think one should look like; but use only the information in the following scriptures to guide you:
  • Matthew 16:13-20
  • Acts 2: 42-47
  • Acts 4:32-37
  • Romans 12:1-11
  • 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; 1 Corinthians 14:26-32
  • Ephesians 4:1-13
  • Philemon
  • any texts from Matthew  or Ephesians you remember from class that relate

HERE is what you came up with:
coming soon 

Some great observations and connections.
Remember how I said not once in ten years of classes has any group included in their ad the one thing that is just about every church ad?  The name of the pastor or priest!

quiz: how many times is 'pastor' mentioned in the NT?

I love reminding peope of the community/communitas nature of the church by saying something like "Guess how many times the word 'pastor' shows up in the New Testament?  Only once, and in passing: Ephesians 4, where is it mentioned only as part of the shared leadership the church is called to have."

BUT I was wrong!  Thanks to Gary Amirault for straightening out my math and theology:

The word “pastor” doesn’t occur in the New Testament (KJV, NIV, NASK, NRSB) at all. Shocked? I was. The word “pastors” occurs ONCE in the N.T. in Ephesians 4:11 and NOT as a title.  Gary Amirault 

the preacher is not in the Bible

Jeremy Myers:

"there is not a single passage in Scripture which commands or even provides an example of the current popular pattern of gathering in a building on a certain day of the week to listen to one person stand up and talk about the Bible for thirty or forty minutes.
It is just not there."  -Jeremy Myers, full article, do read it

I sometimes say in meetings, "All American pastors know that  the Bible knows nothing of a weekly meeting where a pastor preaches a sermon."

  But I wonder.  Do you think they (we) all really know the Bible says that, or are we so blinded but what we think it says that we read it into the Bible (eisegete)? 


One of the most helpful ways of understanding the Bible...and SET THEORY.
You will need to know the three sets for Moodle 2.1  and other assignments.

Many successful signature papers incorporate set theory.


Pick a side of the room to stand on for each pair:

  • Target or Wal-Mart

  • Jew or Gentile
  •   extrovert or introvert
  • Lenno or McCartney
  • rock or country



    -When does a mountain begin?
    -Is it about predestination or free will?
    -Faith or science?

    These can be the border can be fuzzy...Thus :
    "Fuzzy sets"


  • Help for presentation next week
    1note changes from syllabus in red. Three Worlds Presentation (see example attached to the syllabus and below)
    Prepare a 5-minute “Three Worlds Presentation” on a single text from Matthew’s gospel. Presentations will be made to a smaller group of students, so assessment of this assignment is based on what you turn in to the instructor. <NO, DON"T WORRY ABOUT TURNING IT IN Thus it is very important that you have a script or quite detailed outline of your presentation that clearly demonstrates you were working with the three worlds of the single text you chose.<NO, YOU DON"T NEED A DETAILED SCRIPT.  A LIST OF QUESTIONS RAISED BY THE TEXT MIGHT SUFFICE FOR MUCH OF YOUR PRESENTATION Some texts are easier to use than others for this type of assignment—some texts more readily lend themselves to discussion of important elements of all three worlds.  Prepare your presentation from one of the sections of Matthew listed in the assignment worksheet below.  These texts have been chosen because of their significance for understanding the gospel, as well as the way they work well as opportunities to use the three worlds.<ACTUALLY. CHOOSE ANY TEXT FROM MATTHEW

    click this:


    Matthew help

    Historical world help on Matthew passages.

    a)Craig Keener is one of best Bible teachers and Three Worlds Teachers,especially on Matthew.
    Once you know your text from Matthew, you can click to Craig's video on that section, and fast forward to your exact text.  It's all here.

    If your passage is from the first five chapters on Matthew,  click here for a Word doc with some of his written notes that may help.  If your passage is from chapter 5, or chapter 19-28, you have an amazing resource at this click. Craig has written a very helpful commentary in Matthew, and  here  you can see comments on those chapters free.

    b)Ray Van Der Laan you'll recogize from class videos as our tour guide to the Holy Land.
    His website (here) is full of resources.  Maybe putting "Matthew" or a key word in the search bar will help as you study. Or click "learn" to see articles.

    c)There is a good commentary on Matthew free online here.

    Here's an ABBREVIATED example

    Abbreviated Example: Three Worlds Presentation Mt 6:1-4

    1.       Literary World
    In Mt 6:1-4 Jesus talks about giving alms and the right way to go about it. The literary world of this passage would include discussion of what Jesus is saying and how this text unit is put together in relationship to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7). What’s his point? Don’t give to be seen giving. Where does this text fit in the bigger picture of the Sermon? Jesus makes a general principle statement in Mt 6:1 about practicing piety, and the alms example is the first of several he gives in chapter 6. This point in the Sermon seems to focus on showing our devotion to God or love of God. In Mt 5 there is also a bigger assertion (verses 17-20) and then a string of examples, but those focus more on showing love to others. These are all important literary world observations related to this text.

    2.       Historical World
    In terms of the historical world, as a reader trying to make sense of this passage I benefit from knowing what alms and synagogues are, what 1st century Jewish expectations and practices were regarding alms-giving, whether people literally blew a trumpet or whether this is an image Jesus is using to make a point. Does what Jesus say here contrast with common practices or with misguided practices in Judaism in his day? You will need to do actual research to explore elements of the historical world of your text.

    3.       Contemporary World
    Knowing these things from the literary and historical worlds helps me make a better interpretation of this passage for the present day (contemporary world). What does this text have to teach us today?  (Anyone who has read this by Wed night 11:59, text Dave and tell him you have.  extra cred opp) .Jesus seems to be calling for humility and even anonymity as we give to help others. It’s not supposed to be about how others will think of us as we do this. Jesus seems to understand this act as one way we show we love God (even though other people benefit). And Jesus clearly expects his followers to be giving (he says when not ‘if’ in verse 2).

    EXAMPLE from Luke 15, Prodigal Son

    1.     It would seem important to say that this is part of a larger unit.  Luke 15 really has three parables (the lost sheep, the lost son) that work like one parable with three parts.  Verse 1 says “Jesus spoke to them this parable,” and then the rest of the chapter is in red letters.  Since “the primary point of a parable is that a parable has one primary point” (class notes ), it seems best to treat the whole chapter as one parable with one main point.  Paragraph divisions can get in the way!
    2.     Connecting the three stories as one, but as in a progression, you notice a decrease in percentage of who was lost (one out of  a hundred sheep; one out of ten coins, then one of two sons.  This might suggest that lost people really matter to God, no matter how many there are.
    3.     The whole parable is addressed specifically to  elders and teachers.  It feels like the point of the parable is that they should see themselves  as the judgemental older brother.  The parable is told as a response to “Jesus welcome sinners and eats with them” (15:2)
    4.     I wonder if the prodigal son really visited prostitutes as the elder son accused him.  It doesn’t SAY that earlier.
    The story reads like classic art, even a poem, or well-thought-out literature or a movie

    Climax is profound..but in a way, we are left hanging (Did the older brother ever rejoice?).

    6.                 In an outline of Luke as a book, this section comes under the heading that one writer called “On the Road To Jerusalem.”  This may mean that everything that happens in this section has a sense of urgency.

    7.                 The whole context of the broader section   (Luke 14-15)has an emphasis on parties/ banquets.  This could be intertextuality, intercalation (Capon, page 285).  Hmm, why would God throw a party?

    8.                 The whole parable is structured as a huge chiasm, suggesting the theme is resurrection. Source:

    9.                 In Matthew 18:12-14 There is a parallel parable to the lost sheep.  The main difference there is the sheep “wandered off,” as opposed to being “lost” in Luke.  This might raise the question of each writer’s “targeted theological purpose.”    That whole chapter in Matthew seems full of pleas for forgiveness and restoration, as does the Luke chapter.

    1)All three “lost” persons were “outcasts” in the Bible’s historical world: A shepherd was considered dirty

     (“Faith Lessons” video: “The Lord is My Shepherd”),  women were not  were not highly honored, and a son who had done unclean things was to be shunned.
    (Summers, Commentary on Luke.  p.118 and Bible Background Commentary, online).  This even suggests that Jesus was talking a risk with his audience by having the “God figure” in the story an unrespectable person: dirty shepherd, woman…or a father who would seem effeminate by running in public (in that historical world.)

    2.                 The prodigal asking for his inheritance early was like saying “Dad, I wish you were dead: a grave insult. The father putting a ring on the prodigal’s finger was the equivalent to him giving his son his credit card, a radical restoration (class notes  8/17).

    3.Eating pig food would not be kosher for a  Jew, it must have been humiliating.  Or had he quit being a Jew at that point?  (Bounded set)

    3.                 The father killing the calf was an intertextuality to Old Testament sacrifices.

    1.Do I love unconditionally like all three God figures in the parable(s)?
    2.Who am I in the story?  The elder brother?
    3. If Jesus told the story today, what images would he use?  A lost computer, credit card, and mother?

    4 As a mother, would I risk my reputation by doing something  taboo like running in public, if my wayward child returned home?
    5. Capon (chapter four) calls this one of the “misnamed parables.”  If we call it the Prodigal Son, wd focus on the human.  If we call it the Prodigal Father (Prodigal meaning “lavish or excessive” we apply it by focusing more on “am I  radically loving like God the Father, taking initiative to seek lost or wayward sons?” than “Which brother am I”?

    Next week dinner

    PSSSS :Extra cred challenge: Text Dave by Fri night with proof you found the "checkers" section in Kraybill.