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     Genesis   46 - 47

Genesis 46

Joseph Brings His Family to Egypt

Genesis 46 1 So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” 3 Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. 4 I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” 5 Then Jacob set out from Beersheba. The sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6 They also took their livestock and their goods, which they had gained in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him, 7 his sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters. All his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.

8 Now these are the names of the descendants of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons. Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, 9 and the sons of Reuben: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. 10 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. 11 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan); and the sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Yob, and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun: Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. 15 These are the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, together with his daughter Dinah; altogether his sons and his daughters numbered thirty-three.

16 The sons of Gad: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, with Serah their sister. And the sons of Beriah: Heber and Malchiel. 18 These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter; and these she bore to Jacob—sixteen persons.

19 The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife: Joseph and Benjamin. 20 And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, bore to him. 21 And the sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. 22 These are the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob—fourteen persons in all.

23 The son of Dan: Hushim. 24 The sons of Naphtali: Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem. 25 These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, and these she bore to Jacob—seven persons in all.

26 All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own descendants, not including Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. 27 And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

Jacob and Joseph Reunited

28 He had sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to show the way before him in Goshen, and they came into the land of Goshen. 29 Then Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. 30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.” 31 Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 And the men are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock, and they have brought their flocks and their herds and all that they have.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

Genesis 47

Jacob’s Family Settles in Goshen

Genesis 47 1 So Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.” 2 And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were.” 4 They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” 5 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

7 Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” 9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. 11 Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.   ( The care that we take of our parents in their old age is an expression of godliness (1 Timothy 5:8). So we’re told in Genesis 47:11, “Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land.” Joseph was delighted to settle his dad in a prime site. )  The Hand of God: Finding His Care in All Circumstances   12 And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their dependents.

Joseph and the Famine

13 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine. 14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15 And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.” 16 And Joseph answered, “Give your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. He supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. 18 And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh’s. 21 As for the people, he made servants of them from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land.

23 Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. 24 And at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.” 25 And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.” 26 So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s.

27 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years.

29 And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.” He answered, “I will do as you have said.” 31 And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.

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Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical “Trimorphic Protennoia”?

By J. Warner Wallace 1/12/2018

     There are a number of ancient, non-canonical texts used by sect leaders or heretical groups in the early history of Christianity. One of these is a gnostic document called The Trimorphic Protennoia. Is this non-biblical text reliable? Was it written by an eyewitness who accurately captured the actions and statements of Jesus? There are four attributes of reliable eyewitness testimony, and the first requirement is simply that the account be old enough to actually be written by someone who was present to see what he or she reports. The Trimorphic Protennoia was written too late in history to have been written by anyone who could have actually seen the ministry of Jesus, and like other late non-canonical texts, this errant document was rejected by the Church. In spite of this, The Trimorphic Protennoia may have contained small nuggets of truth related to Jesus.  Although it is a legendary fabrication altered by an author who wanted to craft a version of the Jesus story that suited the purposes of his religious community, it likely reflected many truths about Jesus:

     The Trimorphic Protennoia (120-180AD)

     Only one copy of The Trimorphic Protennoia has survived, and it comes to us from the Gnostic collection of documents at the Nag Hammadi Library in Egypt (discovered in 1945). The title means literally “The Three Forms of the First Thought”, and the text is written in the first person, as if it had been written by God. It is an extremely mystical text and was intended to be difficult to understand; another hidden mystery intended for a select few (consistent with Gnosticism). The Trimorphic Protennoia is one of several early Gnostic documents that have been deeply influenced by Sethianism. Sethians existed before the appearance of Jesus and believed that Seth (the third son of Adam and Eve), was a divine incarnation and that his offspring and descendants were superior to other humans. They also believed that Jesus was simply another incarnation of God who came to release people’s souls from the prison of creation.

     Why Isn’t It Considered Reliable?

     The Trimorphic Protennoia is dated to the 2nd century and appears far too late in history to have been written by an eyewitness to the life of Jesus. In addition, there is only one copy of the text, indicating that it may not have been widely accepted, even in its own time. It is clearly Gnostic in origin and emerged from the Gnostic community at Nag Hammadi. The Trimorphic Protennoia is a late, Gnostic (and therefore unreliable) text.

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James "Jim" Warner Wallace (born June 16, 1961) is an American homicide detective and Christian apologist. Wallace is a Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He has authored several books, including Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, in which he applies principles of cold case homicide investigation to apologetic concerns such as the existence of God and the reliability of the Gospels.

The #1 Question I’ve Been Asked As A Pastor

By Landon Coleman 11/7/2016

     What is the #1 question I’ve been asked as a pastor? It’s not a philosophical question about the problem of evil (why bad things happen to good people). It’s not a tricky Bible question about hotly debated issues. Here it is: “Pastor, can you recommend a good devotional book.” Honestly, I’m amazed how many times I’ve been asked that question.

     Here’s what I hope most people are asking me … “Pastor, can you recommend a book that will help me grow and learn? I’m intimidated by the Bible, and I need some bite-sized guidance that won’t totally overwhelm me and frustrate me.”

     Here’s what I fear some people are asking me … “Pastor, can you recommend a book that is simple, easy-to-read, and quick? I don’t have time to read the Bible, but I need something light and encouraging to make my day better.”

     That’s the #1 question I’ve been asked as a pastor. Here are my top 3 recommendations.

     Recommendation One: Read the Bible. That’s not a “Jesus-juke.” It’s just the honest truth. If you want to read something that will help you learn and grow, read the Bible. Read through Psalms and Proverbs. Read through Matthew and John. You don’t have to tackle the entire Bible, but you should read the Bible. You can even buy a quality study Bible that has maps, pictures, articles, and notes. Try the ESV Study Bible or the Reformation Study Bible.

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     Landon serves as the teaching pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas, where he lives with his wife Brooke. They have four children, Emma, Noelle, Amelia, and Clayton. Landon is a graduate of West Texas A&M University (BBA), and a two-time graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv and PhD). He is the author of Pastor to Pastor: Practical Advice for Regular Pastors and Pray Better: Learning to Pray Biblically. Landon has pastored churches in Kentucky and Oklahoma, and he has taught for Oklahoma Baptist University and BH Carroll Theological Institute. You can contact Landon via email at landon@regularpastor.com.

10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #7: “Christians Had No Basis to Distinguish Heresy from Orthodoxy Until the Fourth Century.”

By Michael J. Kruger 7/13/2012

     This is the seventh installment of a blog series.. First 6 are here.

     Ever since Walter Bauer published his now famous Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity there has been a widespread obsession amongst modern scholars with the theme of early Christian diversity. Study after study has explored how different, contradictory, and divergent early Christian beliefs were. And it is on this basis that the terms “heresy” and “orthodoxy” are declared to be unintelligible prior to the fourth century. After all, we are told, there was no Christianity (as we know it) prior to this time period, but only a variety of different Christianities (plural) all claiming they are the true and original version. Thus, on what basis could the earliest followers of Jesus have ever adjudicated such varied claims? How could they ever have known who was right and who was wrong? It wasn’t until the fourth century, when a particular version of Christianity “won” the theological wars and declared their books were declared to be canonical, that we really can begin to speak of heresy and orthodoxy in a meaningful way.

     But is it really the case that pre-fourth century Christians had no basis or standard by which they could distinguish heresy from orthodoxy? Were they really wandering around blind without a reliable guide? There are good reasons to doubt these claims. On the contrary, we shall argue here that early Christians would have had three solid guideposts as they navigated the doctrinal complexities of their faith:

     a. The Old Testament. | Routinely overlooked by those in the Bauer camp—ironically in a Marcionite fashion—is the decisive role played by the Old Testament amongst the earliest Christians. M.F. Wiles once declared, “There was never a time when the Church was without written Scriptures. From the beginning she had the Old Testament and it was for her the oracles of God.” Aside from the numerous examples of Old Testament usage within the New Testament itself, quotations from the Old Testament are abundant within the writings of the apostolic fathers and other early Christian texts. Thus, right from the outset, certain “versions” of Christianity would have been ruled as out of bounds. For example, any quasi-Gnostic version of the faith which suggested the God of the Old Testament was not the true God but a “demiurge”—as in the case of the heretic Marcion—would have been deemed unorthodox on the basis of these Old Testament canonical books alone. As Ben Witherington has observed, “Gnosticism was a non-starter from the outset because it rejected the very book the earliest Christians recognized as authoritative—the Old Testament.” So, the claim that early Christians had no Scripture on which to base their declarations that some group was heretical and another orthodox is simply mistaken. The Old Testament books would have provided that initial doctrinal foundation.

     b. “Core” New Testament Books. | Although all New Testament books are orthodox, not all of them needed to have this expressly established prior to their recognition by the early church (or at least portions thereof). As we discussed in a prior blog post, some New Testament books, especially Paul’s major epistles and the four gospels, would have been recognized as authoritative from a very early time period. They were received not so much because they measured up to some standard of orthodoxy but primarily on the basis of their obvious apostolic origins—these were the books that were “handed down” from the apostles. Gamble notes, “The letters of Paul and the Synoptic Gospels…had been valued so long and so widely that their orthodoxy could only be taken for granted: it would have been nonsensical for the church to have inquired, for example, into the orthodoxy of Paul!” Thus, there appears to have been a collection of core New Testament writings that would have functioned as a norm for apostolic doctrine at quite an early point. This explains why the vast majority of later “disagreements” about the boundaries of the New Testament canon appear to be focused narrowly on only a handful of books; apparently the core of the New Testament was intact from a very early time period.

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #8: “Early Christianity was an Oral Religion and Therefore Would Have Resisted Writing Things Down”

By Michael J. Kruger 8/22/2012

     Recent years have seen a flurry of scholarly activity focused on the oral transmission of Jesus material within early Christianity. Scholars (ranging from Gerhardsson to Dunn to Bauckham) have explored different models for how this oral tradition would have been preserved and delivered to each new generation.

     Out of this discussion, however, a new objection to the origins of the New Testament canon has arisen. The earliest Christians are now portrayed as being so committed to oral modes of delivery that they would have had an aversion to the written text. Indeed, this entrenched resistance to the written word is used as an argument for why the idea of a NT canon must have been a late one—something that really didn’t take shape until the middle/end of the second century. Robert Funk uses this argument to push the date of the canon further and further back, “The aversion to writing persisted in the early [Christian] movement well into the second century.”

     Although the perception that Christians were averse to writing may be widespread amongst some scholars, we must ask whether there is sufficient evidence to justify such a position. What are the reasons that scholars think Christians resisted the written word? Let me mention three:

     1. Early Christians were (largely) illiterate.

     The most common argument that Christians were averse to written texts is based on their socio-historical background, namely that most of them were unable to read or write. Such claims are based on the seminal study of William Harris which argues that the average extent of literacy in the Greco-Roman world of the first century was 10-15%,[2] and some have suggested that for Jewish Palestine the rate was actually lower.

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 9

I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds
9 To The Choirmaster: According To Muth-Labben. A Psalm Of David.

1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

3 When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.

5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

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10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #9: “The Canonical Gospels Were Certainly Not Written by the Individuals Named in Their Titles”

By Michael J. Kruger 11/14/2012

     One of the most commonly made claims regarding the canonical gospels is that they were not written by the individuals named in their titles. Instead, we are told that these gospels were written later in the first century by anonymous individuals outside of Palestine who were not eyewitnesses of any of the events that they record. After all, the text of the gospels themselves offers no indication of their authorship. And the gospel titles, it is argued, were added at a later point—probably the middle of the second century—in order to bolster the credibility of these anonymous texts.

     Now it should be noted from the outset that we have too little space here to offer a full scale investigation into the authorship of these four gospels. Moreover, the authorship of ancient books is a tricky matter and not always easy to ascertain. So, we will narrow our focus here on the issue of the gospel titles themselves. Although the titles themselves don’t guarantee the authorship of a book, they are key piece of historical evidence about who early Christians understood the authors to be. So, were the titles added late in the second century as some scholars maintain? We shall argue here that there are good reasons to think the titles were included at a very early point

     1. The manuscript evidence. Although we possess a limited number of gospel manuscripts from the second and third centuries that preserve the title pages, the ones we do possess have the title present. In other words, we do not find “title-less” gospel manuscripts from this time period. Examples of early gospels manuscripts with titles are P66 (John), P4-64-67 (Matthew and Luke) and P75 (Luke and John). Put simply, as far back as we can see in the manuscript tradition the titles are present.

     2. The uniformity of the titles. Perhaps one the most compelling reasons to think the titles were added early is the fact that there is such uniformity in these titles within the early centuries of the faith. If the titles were added late, we would have expected a substantial amount of diversity to have developed. After all, the users of these gospels had to have called them something (especially if they had more than one gospel), and since they were anonymous it is reasonable to think they would have called these gospels by different names. In fact, when the ancient writer Galen published his works without a title, he acknowledges that “everyone gave them a different title.” But, incredibly, the titles of these four gospels are consistent—Mark is always called “Mark,” Luke is always called “Luke,” etc. Such uniformity cannot pop into existence over night. It suggests these titles had been there a while.

     3. The inclusion of Mark and Luke. If the titles were added in the late second century, as some suppose, then it is difficult to imagine that Mark and Luke’s names would have been included. If names were arbitrarily chosen, we would hardly expect these two. If one wanted to get quick credibility for a gospel, it would have been named after an apostle—indeed, this is what happened with so many of our apocryphal gospels (e.g., Thomas and Peter). Yet, here we have two gospels named after non-apostles. It would have been especially easy to name Mark’s gospel after Peter, given the historical connections between the two men, but the early church resisted. This, I would suggest, is a sign of authenticity.

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #10: “Athanasius’ Festal Letter (367 A.D.) is the First Complete List of New Testament Books”

By Michael J. Kruger 12/11/2012

     When it comes to the study of the New Testament canon, few questions have received more attention than the canon’s date. When did we have a New Testament canon? Well, it depends on what one means by “New Testament canon.” If one is simply asking when (some of) these books came to be regarded as Scripture, then we can say that happened at a very early time. But, if one is asking when we see these books, and only these books, occur in some sort of list, then that did not happen until the fourth century. To establish this fourth-century date, most scholars will appeal to the well-known canonical list of Athanasius, included in his Festal Letter in 367 A.D.

     But, is Athanasius really the first complete New Testament list? Despite the repeated claims that he is, we have a list by Origen more than a century earlier (c.250), that seems to include all 27 books. Origen, in his Homilies on Joshua, writes:

     "So too our Lord Jesus Christ…sent his apostles as priests carrying well-wrought trumpets. First Matthew sounded the priestly trumpet in his Gospel, Mark also, and Luke, and John, each gave forth a strain on their priestly trumpets. Peter moreover sounds with the two trumpets of his Epistles; James also and Jude. Still the number is incomplete, and John gives forth the trumpet sound through his Epistles [and Apocalypse]; and Luke while describing the deeds of the apostles. Latest of all, moreover, that one comes who said, “I think that God has set us forth as the apostles last of all” (1 Cor 4:9), and thundering on the fourteen trumpets of his Epistles he threw down, even to their very foundations, the wall of Jericho, that is to say, all the instruments of idolatry and the dogmas of the philosophers."

     This is a fascinating passage. A reasonable interpretation of Origen’s words would leave us with a list of 27 books (he obviously puts the book of Hebrews with Paul’s letters). There is the question of whether the book of Revelation was original to this list—some manuscripts have it, some do not. But even if we assume it was not original, this list is remarkably complete at such an early date.

     Of course, some have objected to this list, arguing that Rufinus (who made the Latin translation of Origen’s homilies) simply changed it to fit his own preferences. However, there are few reasons to think this list is the result of Rufinus’ tampering. On the contrary, Rufinus has been shown to be quite reliable in his representation of Origen’s positions.

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     Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC.  For more on my background and research interests, see here. Michael J. Kruger Books

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books
The Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized
The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity
The Early Text of the New Testament

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     3. Moreover when comfort is promised in affliction, especially when the deliverance of the Church is described, the banner of faith and hope in Christ is unfurled. "Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed," says Habakkuk (3:13). And whenever mention is made in the Prophets of the renovation of the Church, the people are directed to the promise made to David, that his kingdom would be for ever. And there is nothing strange in this, since otherwise there would have been no stability in the covenant. To this purpose is the remarkable prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. After seeing that the unbelieving king Ahab repudiated what he had testified regarding the deliverance of Jerusalem from siege and its immediate safety, he passes as it were abruptly to the Messiah, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel;" intimating indirectly, that though the king and his people wickedly rejected the promise offered to them, as if they were bent on causing the faith of God to fail, the covenant would not be defeated--the Redeemer would come in his own time. In fine, all the prophets, to show that God was placable, were always careful to bring forward that kingdom of David, on which redemption and eternal salvation depended. Thus in Isaiah it is said, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people," (Isa. 55:3, 4); intimating, that believers, in calamitous circumstances, could have no hope, had they not this testimony that God would be ready to hear them. In the same way, to revive their drooping spirits, Jeremiah says, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely," (Jer. 23:5, 6). In Ezekiel also it is said, "I will set up one Shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them: I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace," (Ezek. 34:23, 24, 25). And again, after discoursing of this wondrous renovation, he says, "David my servant shall be king over them: and they all shall have one shepherd." "Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them," (Ezek. 37:24-26). I select a few passages out of many, because I merely wish to impress my readers with the fact, that the hope of believers was ever treasured up in Christ alone. All the other prophets concur in this. Thus Hosea, "Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head," (Hosea 1:11). This he afterwards explains in clearer terms, "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king," (Hosea 3:5). Micah, also speaking of the return of the people, says expressly, "Their king shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them," (Micah 2:13). So Amos, in predicting the renovation of the people, says "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up the ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old," (Amos 9:11); in other words, the only banner of salvation was, the exaltation of the family of David to regal splendour, as fulfilled in Christ. Hence, too, Zechariah, as nearer in time to the manifestation of Christ, speaks more plainly, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation," (Zech. 9:9). This corresponds to the passage already quoted from the Psalms, "The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving health of their anointed." Here salvation is extended from the head to the whole body.

4. By familiarising the Jews with these prophecies, God intended to teach them, that in seeking for deliverance, they should turn their eyes directly towards Christ. And though they had sadly degenerated, they never entirely lost the knowledge of this general principle, that God, by the hand of Christ, would be the deliverer of the Church, as he had promised to David; and that in this way only the free covenant by which God had adopted his chosen people would be fulfilled. Hence it was, that on our Saviour's entry into Jerusalem, shortly before his death, the children shouted, "Hosannah to the son of David," (Mt. 21:9). For there seems to have been a hymn known to all, and in general use, in which they sung that the only remaining pledge which they had of the divine mercy was the promised advent of a Redeemer. For this reason, Christ tells his disciples to believe in him, in order that they might have a distinct and complete belief in God, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me," (John 14:1). For although, properly speaking, faith rises from Christ to the Father, he intimates, that even when it leans on God, it gradually vanishes away, unless he himself interpose to give it solid strength. The majesty of God is too high to be scaled up to by mortals, who creep like worms on the earth. Therefore, the common saying that God is the object of faith (Lactantius, lib. 4 c. 16), requires to be received with some modification. When Christ is called the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), the expression is not used without cause, but is designed to remind us that we can have no knowledge of our salvation, until we behold God in Christ. For although the Jewish scribes had by their false glosses darkened what the Prophets had taught concerning the Redeemer, yet Christ assumed it to be a fact, received, as it were, with public consent, that there was no other remedy in desperate circumstances, no other mode of delivering the Church than the manifestation of the Mediator. It is true, that the fact adverted to by Paul was not so generally known as it ought to have been--viz. that Christ is the end of the Law (Rom. 10:4), though this is both true, and clearly appears both from the Law and the Prophets. I am not now, however, treating of faith, as we shall elsewhere have a fitter place (Book 3 Chap. 2), but what I wish to impress upon my readers in this way is, that the first step in piety is, to acknowledge that God is a Father, to defend, govern, and cherish us, until he brings us to the eternal inheritance of his kingdom; that hence it is plain, as we lately observed, there is no having knowledge of God without Christ, and that, consequently, from the beginning of the world Christ was held forth to all the elect as the object of their faith and confidence. In this sense, Irenæus says, that the Father, who is boundless in himself, is bounded in the Son, because he has accommodated himself to our capacity, lest our minds should be swallowed up by the immensity of his glory (Irenaeus, lib. 4 cap. 8). Fanatics, not attending to this, distort a useful sentiment into an impious dream, [185] as if Christ had only a share of the Godhead, as a part taken from a whole; whereas the meaning merely is, that God is comprehended in Christ alone. The saying of John was always true, "whosoever denieth the Son, the same has not the Father," (1 John 2:23). For though in old time there were many who boasted that they worshipped the Supreme Deity, the Maker of heaven and earth, yet as they had no Mediator, it was impossible for them truly to enjoy the mercy of God, so as to feel persuaded that he was their Father. Not holding the head, that is, Christ, their knowledge of God was evanescent; and hence they at length fell away to gross and foul superstitions betraying their ignorance, just as the Turks in the present day, who, though proclaiming, with full throat, that the Creator of heaven and earth is their God, yet by their rejection of Christ, substitute an idol in his place.


[185] French, "reverie infernale."


     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion

From Seminary President to NFL Head Coach

By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra 1/04/2019

     Imagine Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler taking over the Dallas Cowboys. Or Trinity International University president David Dockery coaching the Chicago Bears. Or Covenant Theological Seminary president Mark Dalbey heading up the Los Angeles Rams.

     This fall, former Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) Charlotte campus president Frank Reich began his first season as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

     “I could never have predicted this path,” Reich told The Washington Post. “It’s crazy. It’s fun.”

     It’s not the first time his path has seemed crazy.

     When he enrolled in his first RTS class in 1997, he was a backup quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.

     “When I was playing, I always thought I was going to be a coach,” Reich told TGC. “When I went into full-time ministry, that was for all the right motives—a real, sincere, heartfelt love for God. I was trying to do the right thing.”

     He was “selling everything” to follow Jesus. And he did—he graduated from seminary, led RTS for three years, then pastored a local church. But he didn’t feel called to it.

     And RTS had taught him that pastoring isn’t everyone’s calling.

     “I came to recognize more and more this false dichotomy between sacred and secular work,” Reich said. He learned about “the priesthood of all believers—that every Christian is called to live out their faith in their sphere of influence.”

     And Reich’s sphere of influence is football.

Comeback Kid

     The first thing to know about Reich, the Indianapolis Star told readers when he was named head coach in February, is that “he knows about comebacks.”

     Reich, who grew up in a religious home, has been playing organized football since sixth grade. He went to the University of Maryland on an athletic scholarship, where he was a year behind All-American quarterback Boomer Esiason. He backed up Esiason for three years. When Esiason graduated, Reich finally had his chance to start in 1984.

     But one month in, he injured his shoulder. Three weeks later, the coach told him the team would stick with his replacement, and Reich was back on the bench as backup.

     Reich couldn’t believe it.

     God, I thought you and I were good, he remembers thinking. Why are you doing this to me?

     He realized that “football had become my God. . . . When that was taken away from me, I realized I had to reprioritize my life.”

     So he worked at it. And a few weeks later, in a game against the Miami Hurricanes, he came off the bench at halftime. The Terrapins were down 31-0.

     Over the next two quarters, Reich threw three touchdowns, handed off for two more, and ran one in himself. Maryland won 42–40, and the comeback remained college’s greatest for 22 years.

     Football had become my God. . . . When that was taken away from me, I realized I had to reprioritize my life.

     Almost 10 years later, he did it again, this time coming off the bench in his first NFL playoff game with the Buffalo Bills. Three minutes into the third quarter, the Bills were down 35–3 to the Houston Oilers. Reich handed off for the first touchdown, then threw four in a row. The Bills won 41–38 in a 1993 game that would get its own name (“The Comeback” or “The Choke,” depending on the fan), its own Wikipedia page, and its own NFL record (largest comeback in NFL history).

     But Reich’s not a prosperity theologian. He knows getting himself straight with God didn’t lead to touchdowns and paychecks. Four weeks after The Comeback, the Bills lost the Super Bowl 52–17.

     They would ultimately lose four Super Bowls in a row, from 1991 to 1994. And Reich never would land that starting quarterback position.

     “After our crushing 52–17 loss to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVII, I was devastated,” he wrote. “The devastation was compounded by the fact that I had played more than half of the game. I couldn’t understand how God could allow us to get beat like that, especially after the Houston miracle.”

     He was flying home from Pasadena when he realized the answer.

     “For the first two hours of the trip, I was going crazy trying to figure out why the Super Bowl went the way it did,” he wrote. “Finally, I could take it no longer. I realized I could be asking the same questions the rest of my life. I needed some peace of mind. The only thing I could think to do was to put on my headset and listen to [Michael English’s] ‘In Christ Alone.’”

     It was a song his sister had introduced him to. He’d listened to it hundreds of times, even reading it at the press conference after The Comeback.

     Now, he “sought comfort from the song which gave me peace during the stressful week prior to the Houston game. The message I was now hearing was that we can experience victory in all our circumstances through Jesus Christ. He gives us the strength and hope to overcome all odds.”

Not Just a Testimony

     Reich grew up Catholic, coming to know Jesus as a University of Maryland senior through Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) and Athletes in Action.

     As a ball player, Reich “was very involved in Bible studies and traveling around and sharing the gospel at different events,” he told TGC.

     “As I was growing, I felt like I needed some more formalized training to be able to use the platform that sports had provided to be able to share the gospel,” he said. Not only that—“my heart was not just to share my testimony. I also wanted to be able to teach the Bible.”

     My heart was not just to share my testimony. I also wanted to be able to teach the Bible.

     Because Reich was playing for the Panthers, he was living in Charlotte. After “a little bit of research,” the backup quarterback of the Carolina Panthers ended up in a couple RTS classes in the offseason.

     (“Of course, I heard about it pretty quickly,” said Ric Cannada, then president of RTS’s new Charlotte campus. Reich even hauled some buddies along with him — the campus still has former Panthers in the classroom.)

     Reich kept taking classes during his time with the Panthers, then the New York Jets, then the Detroit Lions. After he played his last pro game in 1998, he took classes while he worked on a few business interests (a sports memorabilia display company and a boot store).

     “I was in my fifth or sixth year when [Cannada], who had left to become chancellor over the whole system, called me up and said, ‘Can you come into my office?’” Reich said. “So I went into his office and he said, ‘Hey, I’ve been praying about this for a long time. I’d like to ask you to be the next president.’”

     Reich laughed.

     “You’ve got the wrong guy,” he told Cannada. “I haven’t even graduated yet!”

Natural Leader

     As a general practice, RTS doesn’t ask its students to take over operations.

     But Reich “was an older student when he came,” Cannada explained. “He was mature. He had been reading and studying for 10 years already, and you could see that he was a knowledgeable and serious student in his classes.”

     Reich was also “easy and personable, a natural leader.” Early on, Cannada started asking Reich to come along on speaking engagements to share his student testimony.

     “We spent a lot of time together in the car, going places and sharing vision,” Cannada said. “I got pretty close to him.”

     That closeness ran both ways — on the road, Cannada and Reich “would stop and eat and talk, and I got to learn the inner workings of the seminary,” Reich said.

     So when Cannada was elevated to chancellor, and tasked with finding his replacement in Charlotte, Reich was “a natural choice.”

     “I’d been with him enough that I knew his character was right, and he could set an example,” Cannada said. “He was comfortable with faculty and students, and his character was strong. And there was vision there — and that’s what you need in a leader.”

Teacher and Coach

     Frank didn’t say yes right away. But he respected Cannada enough, and loved RTS enough, to agree to pray about it. Then he went down to Jackson to meet the board. Then he agreed to give it a try for a few years.

     “It went exceedingly well,” Reich said. “I really did enjoy it.”

The school enjoyed him too.

     “During his tenure as president, Frank Reich was known as a man with a vision not only for the growth and well-being of the RTS Charlotte campus, but also for striving to elevate the strategic importance of each faculty and staff member serving with him,” said Rod Culbertson, director of admissions and professor of practical theology under Reich. “He was highly respected for his straightforward communication, integrity, trustworthiness, and humility. Like a coach, he relied upon the insights and advice of others who could help him gain wisdom in decision making.”

     “One of the things that impressed me most about Frank was his humility,” said Michael Kruger, who was RTS Charlotte’s academic dean while Reich was president. “While he had accomplished amazing things in his football career, Frank was never interested in talking about himself. His focus was always on Christ and how to bring glory to him.”

     Reich’s best leadership was through example, said Kruger, who is now RTS Charlotte’s president.

     “Leaders today often underestimate the power of their example,” he said. “They tend to lead by telling people what to do, rather than showing them what to do. Frank was not that way. He would not ask someone to walk a path he was unwilling to walk himself. He sought to embody the values of the seminary, not just talk about those values. That’s been a great lesson for me.”

     But at the end of three years, Reich “just didn’t feel like I was called to be an administrator. I’m more of a teacher and coach.”

     He knew he was only qualified to teach two things — the Bible and football. He tried his hand at being an interim pastor, but it only took “about a year to figure out that wasn’t the calling on my life. That’s probably the hardest job in the world.”

     And his theology told him that preaching isn’t the only work that honors God. “I learned that calling — for most people — is to stay where you are and do your work to the Lord.”

     So Reich circled back around to football. “If pastoring isn’t what I’m called to do, and it’s not an accident that God has given me a career in football, then I guess I should make an impact in that arena in whatever way I can,” he figured. “I decided to start coaching at that time.”

45-Year-Old Intern

     At 45, Reich took a coaching internship with the Indianapolis Colts. He moved up to offensive coaching staff assistant, to quarterback coach for Peyton Manning, to wide receivers coach. He coached for the Arizona Cardinals for a year, for the San Diego Chargers for three, and for the Philadelphia Eagles for two.

     Perhaps not surprisingly, Reich coaches like a teacher — ”He does a great job letting us understand the why, teaching us why we are running a certain thing,” quarterback Andrew Luck told the Indianapolis Star. “I think when you understand an offense, as a player, you are going to buy in.”

     Reich isn’t shy about his faith, but isn’t obnoxious about it either.

     “I do think there’s a time to be assertive and proclaim what we believe and stand up on the rooftop and shout it out,” he told Penn Live. “But there’s also a time where we need to keep our mouth shut and just live it out and make someone else ask, ‘Hey, why do act like that? What is it that shapes how you act?'”

     “And then when people want to know the why,” Reich told TGC, “you have the opportunity to tell them.”

     Reich’s been telling them. Stories of his faith have popped up in news articles: “Reich Answers Higher Calling,” “Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich Balances Religious Beliefs in Coaching Role,” and, most recently, “Reich, a Man of Deep Faith, Will Need Plenty of It As He Leads the Rebuilding Colts.”

     Because when Reich took over the reins in Indianapolis this year, the team was coming off a dismal 4–12 season. Star quarterback Andrew Luck was sidelined with a shoulder injury. The Colts owner was asking fans for patience.

     And then the team lost five of its first six games this fall.

Theology of Sports

     If you congratulate Reich on being the Comeback Kid, he’ll remind you that he also holds (shares, really) the record for most fumbles in a Super Bowl game.

     Football is like that. After losing nearly the entire first third of the season, the Colts won nine of the next 10 games to become the third NFL team in history to make the playoffs after a 1-5 start. (“No NFL playoff team came further this season than the Colts,” The Washington Post observed.)

     Faith “really keeps you grounded and centered” during the wild emotional swings of professional sports, Reich told TGC. “It gives you perspective. . . . We don’t always understand the ups and downs of life, but we try to stay steady, loving and serving people and being committed to the process of doing things the right way and making an impact that way.”

     Reich is sure that God doesn’t have a favorite football team. (A quarter of Americans say God has a hand in determining the outcome of sporting events; 28 percent have asked him to help their team.)

     “I have two little kids, and when I see my children playing a game together I don’t care who wins that game,” Reich told Team NFL magazine in 1993. “I’m their father. What’s important to me is that there’s character being built and they’re learning the lessons that come along with that activity. I think God looks at us the same way. I think the football game is insignificant to him. But what is significant is that we learn what he wants us to learn out of that game, win or lose.”

     Reich roots his view of work in Genesis. “Our job description comes from Genesis 1:28 — bring out the best in the environment and the people around you.”

     As a quarterback, he tried to “be a good teammate, to bring out the best in players around me, to make a good locker room environment, to do my job right.” As a coach, he “works hard, trying to create a culture where people can flourish.”

     The ability — and charge — to work well is given to everyone, from seminary presidents to head coaches.

     It’s also a lesson that RTS teaches.

     “I wasn’t disappointed or bothered by it,” Cannada said of Reich’s decision to leave ministry. “At RTS we very much hold a Reformed worldview, where calling from the Lord can lead us in all kinds of directions. Church ministry is a good one, but it’s not the only one. We’re to serve the Lord wherever we are.”

     Current RTS Charlotte president Kruger agrees.

     “Frank’s story is a perfect example of what we value here at RTS,” said Kruger (who wouldn’t turn down a job coaching the Liverpool Football Club in the English Premiere League).

     “The Reformers taught that all callings matter, not just callings to vocational ministry,” he said. “God’s sovereignty extends to all categories of our life, not just to the ‘religious’ category. And thus God’s Word applies as much to the banker, the farmer, and the athlete as it does to the pastor.”

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     Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra is senior writer for The Gospel Coalition and contributing editor at Christianity Today. She earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Skip Resolutions in 2019—Make a Rule of Life

By Jeremy Linneman 12/27/2018

     Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—   ESV

     I used to love making New Year’s resolutions—in fact, I loved making them far more than I enjoyed keeping them. But about eight years ago, I was introduced to the old tradition of creating a Rule of Life, and since then, it has proved to be a much better use of time and energy.

     A Rule of Life contains spiritual, relational, and vocational rhythms needed to sustain the life in Christ we’ve been called to, and it doesn’t change much year in and year out. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the Rule or hasn’t created one, January 1 provides the perfect time to establish your own Rule of Life.

     This year, skip resolutions—make a Rule of Life instead.

Why Create a Rule of Life?

     Every Christian has a well-established pattern of living, whether it’s an intentionally developed set of commitments or an unstated set of values and practices, like praying before meals and going to church twice a month. But many of us aren’t as deliberate with our spiritual development as we are with our time and priority management at work, and our lives and relationships suffer as a result.

     Amid our busy schedules, we’re constantly juggling relationships and responsibilities and often feel like we’re dropping more balls than we’re keeping in the air. When we lack a consistent and thoughtful way of doing life well, we will end up distracted and overwhelmed by life, and our spiritual and emotional growth will plateau. Few of us want to take this approach to life, but it just seems to happen. We wind up:

     Scattered: Our schedule is full but doesn’t reflect our purpose and priorities.
     Hurried: We’re busier than we want to be, but don’t know what to change.
     Reactive: It seems we’re never in charge, always responding to demands.
     Exhausted: We end each day weary and discouraged, unsure if we’ve spent it well.

     My experience as a pastor has shown me that many of my friends and church members aren’t undone by poor theology or a lack of biblical information. Instead, we often fail to grow spiritually because we haven’t planned and made space for a deep, abiding fellowship with God.

     The lack of spiritual planning may be rooted in a lukewarm heart toward Christ, but at other times, we genuinely want to go deeper with God but  don’t know how to make time and space to simply be with him and gain spiritual strength for each day’s challenges.    and thus the reason for Lean-into-God

What Is a Rule of Life?

     A Rule of Life is “an intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the center of everything we do. . . . The starting point and foundation of any Rule is a desire to be with God and to love him” (Scazzero, 196).

     The Rule is a way to “begin with the end in mind” — to envision a sustainable, thriving walk with the Lord, in his Word, in prayer, in community, in our family, and in our work, then work backward to a set of commitments. It’s not about detailed to-do lists that must be maintained. A Rule of Life instead gives you the opportunity to prayerfully discern what roles and responsibilities the Lord has given you, and to organize your life in the manner most conducive to spiritual growth and depth in him.

     The Rule of Life has a rich history in Christian tradition. The Rule has been traced back to the early monastic movement in the fourth century, and the most well-known Rule was written by Benedict in the sixth century. The Rule of Saint Benedict has influenced Eastern and Western Christians for roughly 1,500 years, and many Reformers and evangelical patriarchs have practiced similar spiritual routines without the title. Lately, many Christian traditions have returned to the Rule as an antidote to our Western culture’s lonely and fragmented lives. (Yes, Christians were doing 12 Rules for Life way before it was cool.)

Five Basic Elements of a Rule

     When helping others create a Rule of Life, I suggest five basic elements: Relationship with God, Personal Life/Health, Relationships, Church, and Work.

     The goal of life is to dwell in deep communion with Christ and to be firmly anchored in our union with him. But how and when and where we practice these blessed realities will depend greatly on many factors, including our life stage, work, and physical capacity. If you have multiple jobs or small children, your Rule should reflect those responsibilities. In the words of Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Here are a few subcategories, and you’ll certainly want to prayerfully think of your own components.

     Relationship with God
     Scripture reading
     Silence and solitude
     Study and reflection

     Personal Life/Health
     Rest and Sabbath
     Physical health and fitness
     Recreation and hobbies
     Money and possessions

     Neighbors and coworkers
     Children and parenting
     Extended family

     Participation and worship
     Friendships and community
     Service and mission

     Current position and responsibilities
     Workplace relationships
     Education, personal development, and coaching

     In each of these five areas of life, I write out one key verse, a vision statement, and four to eight commitments. For example, under Personal Life/Health, I might write:

     Verse: (Dt 4:9) “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—   ESV

     Vision: I am a human being, created in the image of God, with limits and needs; I am a steward of the health and life God has given me, and I honor him by refreshing myself spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

     I sleep an average of eight hours every night (9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.).
     I work no more than 50 hours weekly, including only two evenings each week.
     I exercise five days each week (Mon—Fri from 4 to 5 p.m.).
     I review our expenses each Friday and discuss our finances with my wife at the end of each month.
     I reflect on my past week and plan the week ahead each Sunday (1 to 3 p.m.).

How to Create Your First Rule of Life

     When writing a rule of life for the first time, I recommend a certain way of doing things. Many of these ideas were recommended to me originally by my pastor-friend Brian Howard and spiritual director Rich Plass.

1. Plan Ahead

     Ideally, set aside an entire eight- to ten-hour day to focus entirely on writing a Rule of Life.

     Goals are overrated; commitments are underrated.

     The best thing you can do right now, if you’re interested in writing a Rule, is to get out your calendar and pick an entire day away for this. If you’re married, coordinate with your spouse to trade off days away.

2. Get Away

     My family has a small cabin in the woods about an hour away—one of the benefits of moving back home. When I lived in Louisville, I’d spend a day at the nearby Abbey of Gethsemane. You could also spend the day at a public library or park, or even at home if it’s not too distracting. Go somewhere life-giving!

3. Be Prepared

     I suggest taking with you only a Bible and a blank notebook. Don’t bring your laptop or smartphone. Type up your notes later and resist listening to music, if possible.

4. Start with God’s Word

     Consider spending the first few hours of your day simply reading through passages of Scripture that help quiet and center your heart.

     When re-writing or reviewing my own Rule, I usually read a few dozen Psalms and pick another book of the Bible to read in its entirety.

     Also, take some time to pick a key verse for each of your five main categories. You’re not in a hurry!

5. Pray through Your Five Areas

     Prayerfully reflect on the five main areas of your life, and you may get a good sense of which area to focus your attention. I have found it easy to ignore the area of my life that needs the most attention.

     Often, our family finances are the last thing I want to spend time thinking and praying about, but it’s an area where my heart is easily moved to sin, and I need to practice regular submission to God with our money and possessions.

6. Write Out Your Commitments

     There is a big difference between goals and commitments. A goal is something you want to achieve, such as running a marathon. A commitment is a rhythm of life that puts you in a place to get there, such as running four miles five days a week.

     Goals are overrated; commitments are underrated.

     When your retreat day is complete, and you are back in the world of technology, translate each of your commitments into your calendar.

Deep Living

     In the words of General George S. Patton, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.” You don’t have to get it right. In everything, remember the purpose of the Rule of Life: to intentionally create time and space to enjoy deep fellowship with God, so that he can reorient and direct your days to increasingly glorify him along the way.

     Since creating my first Rule in 2010, my life circumstances have changed significantly, but my weekly rhythms have been remarkably consistent—morning prayer and reading, Sunday afternoon reflection and planning, two work evenings weekly, Sabbath on Monday, semi-annual retreats, and so on. My roles have shifted, and my responsibilities have increased, but the Rule and its practice have grounded me in a set of commitments and habits that have consistently facilitated peace, joy, and growth.

     Creating and living by a Rule may not be for everyone, but in our busy and fragmented world, it’s a helpful, time-honored resource for deep, wise living.

     Creating and living by a Rule may not be for everyone, but in our busy and fragmented world, it’s a helpful, time-honored resource for deep, wise living. In my own congregation and across many others, I long to see believers slowing down, planning prayerfully, and creating space to focus on God, his Word, and his calling on their lives. Imagine a whole church—even a whole movement of churches—stepping into the lives of their neighbors and the burdens of their communities from positions of rest, renewal, and spiritual strength.

     This winter, you may want to make resolutions or pick a word for the year. But consider that your life in Christ may be even more substantially transformed by creating and living by a Rule of Life. In the spirit of Ephesians 3:16, may your inner being be strengthened in Christ!

Click here to go to source

     Jeremy Linneman is lead pastor of Trinity Community Church, a church he planted in Columbia, Missouri. Prior to planting Trinity, he was a staff pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, for seven years. He is author of ASIN: B076T91ZCG: Jeremy and his wife, Jessie, have three sons and spend most of their free time outdoors.

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     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Start a journal of your spiritual journey
     1/16/2018    Bob Gass

     ‘Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar.’

(Ex 24:4) And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. ESV

     One of the secrets of Moses’ great success in life was this: he spent time each day with God, and he wrote down what God told him. And you should do that too. Here’s why. Writing a) clarifies your thoughts; b) gives you a permanent record you can refer back to; c) allows you to measure your progress. We only remember what we take time to record. One of the best-known American missionaries was Jim Elliot, who became a martyr for Christ in 1956 in Ecuador. He kept a spiritual journal, and it makes interesting reading: ‘My devotional reading pattern was broken. I have never restored it…prayer as a single man was difficult…now it’s too hard to get out of bed in the morning…I’ve made resolutions on this score before now, but not followed them up.’ Such writings become a mirror that reflects your true spiritual condition – a condition it’s easy to forget unless it’s staring you in the face each day. Elliot, like all of us, struggled with the spiritual disciplines. But unlike most of us, he kept a written record of his spiritual defeats as well as his spiritual victories. Keeping such a journal will force you to reflect on your heart’s true condition, record your progress, regain your lost momentum, reject your bad habits, reinforce your good habits, and help you to reach your spiritual goals. Do you know any other discipline that offers such benefits? No? Then start a journal of your spiritual journey today.

Genesis 33-35
Matthew 10:1-16

UCB The Word For Today

     January 16, 2016

     I like Lily to sleep in on weekends. Sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t. How do you get up? Are you one of those people who wakes with a start? Do you know the kind of person I’m talking about? The alarm goes off and they jump up as though someone threw cold water on them. I have a son and daughter-in-law who have several alarms because the first and second don’t do it. I usually wake up about the same time each day and waking up is a slow process for me. By the time I get to my second cup of coffee I’m feeling fully awake.

     I look back on my life and all the stupid things I thought, said and did and I wonder if I was going through life half asleep. I think losing my job and going to seminary was like that second cup of coffee. I was finally waking up and taking note of what’s really important.

     I can’t remember ever not believing in God, but believing in God and loving God are worlds apart. When I lost my job I expected God to metaphorically show up on a white horse and make my unjust treatment right, but justice never came. What did come was my first grandchild and a long, slow process of recovery. My identity had been wrapped up with my career, but now I was discovering who I was through my relationship with my wife. In the intimate relationship of husband and wife I began to understand my relationship with God. It’s great to be alive.

     … suffering comes in many other forms, too: illness, depression, bereavement, moral dilemmas, poverty, tragedy, accidents, and death. Nobody reading the New Testament or any of the other Christian literature from the first two or three centuries could have accused the early Christians of painting too rosy a picture of what life would be like for those who follow Jesus. But the point is this: it is precisely when we are suffering that we can most confidently expect the Spirit to be with us. We don’t seek, or court, suffering or martyrdom. But if and when it comes, in whatever guise, we know that, as Paul says toward the end of his great Spirit-chapter, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). --- N. T. Wright

Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     Thomas Jefferson had it commemorated on his tombstone, along with the Declaration of Independence. What was it? It was Jefferson’s Article of Religious Freedom, passed this day, January 16, 1786, in the Virginia Assembly. In it, Jefferson wrote: “Well aware… that Almighty God hath created the mind free… all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments… tend only to begat… hypocrisy… and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of religion, who being Lord both of body and mind… chose not to propagate it by coercions… as was in his Almighty power to do, but to extend it by… reason alone.”

American Minute

A Testament Of Devotion
     Thomas R. Kelly

     The Kelly family arrived in Haverford early in September 1936. They swiftly found their place in the Quaker community. Thomas Kelly's gifts of ministry made themselves felt in Haverford Meeting. His sense of humor, however, did not desert him in coming among Eastern Quakers who called him from far and near to speak to their forums, commencements and classes. He wrote to a friend at this period, "An increasing number of speaking engagements come along, most of them highly unremunerative. Quakers with their unpaid ministry are well grounded in their Biblical persuasion that the Gospel is free." Nor was he uncritical of the annual gathering of Quakers that takes place in Philadelphia each spring, "Being a relative newcomer, I have no very good background for judging the Yearly Meeting at Arch Street. In the midst of a lot of historical lumber, I felt some life. But only a few have the vivid sense of the freshness and the newness of the Quaker discovery and emphasis. Was it not Gerald Heard who described Friends as reminding him of delicate chased silver. The explosive ruggedness of Luther and Fox is not found."

A Testament of Devotion

Lean Into God
     Compilation by RickAdams7

My theology,
is that the universe was dictated
but not signed.
--- Christopher Morley

I’ll praise my maker while I’ve breath
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers.
My days of praise shall ne’er be past.
--- John Wesley (His last hymn)

How did we get to a day when stress and fatigue are almost a badge of success? --- Gordon MacDonald
The one cornerstone of belief upon which the Society of Friends is built is the conviction that God does indeed communicate with each one of the spirits He has made, in a direct and living inbreathing of some measure of the breath of His own Life; that He never leaves Himself without a witness in the heart as well as in the surroundings of man; that the measure of light, life, or grace thus given increases by obedience; and that in order clearly to hear the Divine voice speaking within us we need to be still; to be alone with Him, in the secret place of His Presence; that all flesh should keep silence before Him. --- Caroline Stephen, 1834-1909

... from here, there and everywhere

Proverbs 3:25-35
     by D.H. Stern

25     Don’t be afraid of sudden terror or destruction
caused by the wicked, when it comes;
26     for you can rely on ADONAI;
he will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.
27     Don’t withhold good from someone entitled to it
when you have in hand the power to do it.
28     Don’t tell your neighbor, “Go away! Come another time;
I’ll give it to you tomorrow,” when you have it now.
29     Don’t plan harm against your neighbor
who lives beside you trustingly.
30     Don’t quarrel with someone for no reason,
if he has done you no harm.
31     Don’t envy a man of violence,
don’t choose any of his ways;
32     for the perverse is an abomination to ADONAI,
but he shares his secret counsel with the upright.
33     ADONAI’s curse is in the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34     The scornful he scorns,
but gives grace to the humble.
35     The wise win honor,
but fools win shame.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                The voice of the nature of God

     I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send? ---
Isaiah 6:8.

     When we speak of the call of God, we are apt to forget the most important feature, viz., the nature of the One Who calls. There is the call of the sea, the call of the mountains, the call of the great ice barriers; but these calls are only heard by the few. The call is the expression of the nature from which it comes, and we can only record the call if the same nature is in us. The call of God is the expression of God’s nature, not of our nature. There are strands of the call of God providentially at work for us which we recognize and no one else does. It is the threading of God’s voice to us in some particular matter, and it is no use consulting anyone else about it. We have to keep that profound relationship between our souls and God.

     The call of God is not the echo of my nature; my affinities and personal temperament are not considered. As long as I consider my personal temperament and think about what I am fitted for, I shall never hear the call of God. But when I am brought into relationship with God, I am in the condition Isaiah was in. Isaiah’s soul was so attuned to God by the tremendous crisis he had gone through that he recorded the call of God to his amazed soul. The majority of us have no ear for anything but ourselves, we cannot hear a thing God says. To be brought into the zone of the call of God is to be profoundly altered.

My Utmost for His Highest
The Cones
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                The Cones

But why a thousand? I ask.
  It is like breaking off
  a flake from the great pyramid
  of time and exalting the molecules
  into wholes. The pyramid
  is the hive to which
  generation after generation
  comes with nectar for the making
  of the honey it shall not eat.
  Emperors and their queens? Pollen
  blown away from forgotten
  flowers. Wars? Scratches upon earth's
  ageless face. He leads us to expect
  too much. Following his star,
  we will find in the manger
  as the millenium dies neither
  the child reborn nor the execrable
  monster, but only the curled-up
  doll, whose spring is the tribute
  we bring it, that before we have done
  rubbing our eyes will be back
  once more in the arms of the maternal
  grass in travesty of the Pieta.

The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Take Heart
     January 16

     But a Samaritan… took pity on him. --- Luke 10:33.

     Our Lord, true poet that he was, had a great liking for pictorial teaching. (Highways of the Heart (Morrison Classic Sermon Series, The) ) The scene, familiar to them all; the robbery, an occurrence they all dreaded; the ecclesiastics, [those] whom they knew so well; the Samaritan, [he] whom they all despised—these made a glowing, vivid picture that nobody but a master could have painted, and nobody but the Master ever did. It is a beautiful etching of benevolence, and as such it is immortal. But people have loved to find in this Samaritan a delineation of the Lord himself in his infinite compassion for humankind.

     The Samaritan came just where the man was and handled him where he lay battered. How perfectly that touch applies to the Lord, the teller of the story!

     Think of the Incarnation. It was the Son of God seeing human need and coming in mercy where humans were. Not speaking from high heaven, not casting down a scroll out of eternity. No, this is the glory of the Incarnation, that when people were bruised and battered by their sin, Christ, the Son of God, the good Samaritan, came just where they were. Show me where folk are lying ill at home, and I can show you Jesus there. Show me where hearts are crying out in darkness, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” and I can show you Jesus there. Where people have suffered, Jesus Christ has suffered. Where people have toiled, Jesus Christ has toiled. Where people have wept, Jesus Christ has wept. Where people have died, Jesus Christ has died. He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows and made his grave with the wicked.

     Christ was genial, kindly, and accessible, a lover of human haunts, the friend of publicans and sinners. Simon Peter was busy with his nets, and Christ came where he was. Matthew was seated at the tax collector’s booth, and Christ came to him. The poor demoniac was in the graveyard and our good Samaritan came exactly where he was.

     That is exactly what he is doing still. “Just As I Am” is a very gracious hymn, but I want someone to write me another hymn: “Just where I am, O Lamb of God, you come.”
--- George H. Morrison
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day   January 16
     “Young Man …”

     On a cold Sunday in 1873, a dignified woman and her portly companion trudged across Clark Street Bridge in Chicago. College administrator Emma Dryer and evangelist D. L. Moody were discussing a Christian school for Chicago. Dryer insisted that such a school be coeducational, but Moody disagreed.

     Miss Dryer decided to raise the money herself, and in 1882 her institute opened with 50 students. Moody, watching from afar, was impressed and agreed to lend his support if Chicagoans could raise $250,000. I will tell you what I have on my heart. I would like to see $250,000 raised at once; $250,000 for Chicago is not anything. Take $50,000 and put up a building that will house 75 or 100 people, where they can eat and sleep. Take $200,000 and invest it at 5 percent, and that gives you $10,000 a year to run this work. Then take men that have the gifts and train them for this work of reaching the people.

     Men, he finally agreed, and women. It happened, and Emma Dryer, who had kept the vision before Moody for years and provided educational and organizational expertise to the school’s beginnings, resigned to make room for his leadership. Land and buildings were acquired, and on January 16, 1890, Moody Bible Institute was dedicated.

     Two years later, William Evans became MBI’s first graduate. Evans, a New York journalist, had first heard Moody in New York City. Preaching from Luke 5, Moody had challenged young people to give themselves for Christian service. Suddenly the evangelist had looked down at young Evans. “Young man, I mean you.”

     Afterward Moody found Evans and said, “Young man, somehow or other God told me He meant you. Have you never been called to give your life to the service of Jesus Christ?” When Evans mentioned his comfortable salary, Moody retorted, “Pack up your trunk and go to my school in Chicago. Never mind about money.”

     Evans went. And he became the first of thousands who, for over a century, have spanned the globe for Christ from the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

     Timothy, my child, Christ Jesus is kind, and you must let him make you strong. You have often heard me teach. Now I want you to tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others.
--- 2 Timothy 2:1,2.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - January 16

     “I will help thee, saith the Lord." --- Isaiah 41:14.

     This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help thee.” “It is but a small thing for me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside my glory and became a man for thee; I gave up my life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. ’Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. ‘Help thee?’ Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. ‘I will help thee.’ ”

     O my soul, is not this enough? Dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up thy wants, and bring them here—thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply; what canst thou desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this thy might. The Eternal God is thine helper!

          “Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismay’d!
          I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid.”

          Evening - January 16

     “The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself.”
--- Daniel 9:26.

     Blessed be his name, there was no cause of death in him. Neither original nor actual sin had defiled him, and therefore death had no claim upon him. No man could have taken his life from him justly, for he had done no man wrong, and no man could even have lain him by force unless he had been pleased to yield himself to die. But lo, one sins and another suffers. Justice was offended by us, but found its satisfaction in him. Rivers of tears, mountains of offerings, seas of the blood of bullocks, and hills of frankincense, could not have availed for the removal of sin; but Jesus was cut off for us, and the cause of wrath was cut off at once, for sin was put away for ever. Herein is wisdom, whereby substitution, the sure and speedy way of atonement, was devised! Herein is condescension, which brought Messiah, the Prince, to wear a crown of thorns, and die upon the cross! Herein is love, which led the Redeemer to lay down his life for his enemies!

     It is not enough, however, to admire the spectacle of the innocent bleeding for the guilty, we must make sure of our interest therein. The special object of the Messiah’s death was the salvation of his church; have we a part and a lot among those for whom he gave his life a ransom? Did the Lord Jesus stand as our representative? Are we healed by his stripes? It will be a terrible thing indeed if we should come short of a portion in his sacrifice; it were better for us that we had never been born. Solemn as the question is, it is a joyful circumstance that it is one which may be answered clearly and without mistake. To all who believe on him the Lord Jesus is a present Saviour, and upon them all the blood of reconciliation has been sprinkled. Let all who trust in the merit of Messiah’s death be joyful at every remembrance of him, and let their holy gratitude lead them to the fullest consecration to his cause.

Morning and Evening
Amazing Grace
     January 16


     William Cowper, 1731–1800

     Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments … .
(Romans 11:33)

     Good when He gives, supremely good,
     nor less when He denies.
     Even crosses from His sovereign hand
     are blessings in disguise. --- Unknown

     The hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” has been acclaimed as one of the finest songs ever written on the theme of God’s providence. This label is made all the more amazing by the fact that the hymn text was written by an English poet who lived a lifetime of mental distress. William Cowper’s emotional upsets included an 18-month stay in an insane asylum and later several attempted suicides. During his time in the asylum, Cowper began reading the Bible. At the age of 33 he had a genuine conversion experience. Yet he was periodically haunted by deep depressions, voices, and visions, and the overwhelming thought that God had forsaken him and would doom him to hell.

     But between these times of mental melancholia, William Cowper was a gifted writer. Several of his secular works achieved great literary fame. For nearly two decades he worked closely with John Newton in Olney, England, and eventually their combined talents produced the famous Olney Hymns hymnal. In this ambitious collection of 349 hymns, 67 were written by Cowper, including such favorites as “O For a Closer Walk With God” and “There Is a Fountain.”

     “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” was originally titled “Conflict: Light Shining Out Of Darkness.” It is thought to be Cowper’s final hymn text and a reflection of God’s leading throughout his own lifetime. There is even speculation that it was written following a failed attempt at suicidal drowning. Regardless of the original motivation for their writing, these words have since been used to bring much comfort to God’s people for nearly two centuries:

     God moves in a mysterious way
     His wonders to perform;
     He plants His foot-steps in the sea
     and rides upon the storm.
     You fearful saints, fresh courage take:
     The clouds you so much dread
     are big with mercy, and shall break
     in blessings on your head.
     Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
     but trust Him for His grace;
     behind a frowning providence
     faith sees a smiling face.
     Blind unbelief is sure to err
     and scan His work in vain;
     God is His own interpreter,
     and He will make it plain.

     For Today: Proverbs 23:30; Matthew 11:25, 26; 2 Corinthians 1:9.

     Pause to thank God for the various and perhaps unusual ways He has directed your life to this very moment. Resolve to trust Him more fully in the days ahead. Sing this hymn as you remember that ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
Ill Gotten Gain
     Alistair Begg

Pt 1

Pt 2

     Alistair Begg

Providence Defined

Providence in Christ's Death

Genesis 46 - 47
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek

The Ultimate Pessimist
Genesis 47:8-10, 45:25-28
s2-069 | 6/01/2014

Genesis 46, 47:1-11
m2-028 | 6-04-2014

Bread From Heaven
Genesis 47:11-13
s2-030 | 6-08-2014

Genesis 47:11-31, 48:1-22
m2-029 | 6-11-2014

     ==============================      ==============================

Genesis 46 - 47

False Faith
Alistair Begg

Keep On!
Alistair Begg

Scripture - God Breathed
Alistair Begg

The Profitable Word
Alistair Begg

The Purposeful Word
Alistair Begg

The Trustworthy Word
Alistair Begg

Thanksgiving 101
Alistair Begg