1. Story is the substance being human.
Stories are the reason for every book, comic, TV show, movie and song. Everything is about stories. Story is the description of who you are and where you have come from. It's lessons learned, characteristics defined, events portrayed, and how a person is formed. Everyone has a story. A history or a chain of circumstances and experiences that have brought them to where they are today. When you reflect back on your life certain memories come to mind that have been key in making you who you are today. Story is where you have come from, where you are and where you are going.
2. The Bible is a book of stories.
Several books of the Bible are almost purely story...Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Sammuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts...we call them the genre of "narrative." Tons and tons of stories. The Bible is a book of stories, not in the sense that they are fiction. Sometimes story can mean that, like a story is just something you tell but didn't really happen. But the Bible is a book of stories, a collection of people's lives whom God really and truly worked in. Stories are so significant. You think of the story of Abraham, or Moses, or Ruth, or David, or Peter or Paul...such signficant stories. Stories help us so much to be able to think of our own story and where we are at and how we need God to work in our lives.
3. Every story is meaningful because of the big story.
Some people want to say there is no big story, there is no objective absolute truth, there is no metanarrative. It's funny how they say that like they think it's true (objectively/absolutely). But the only reason why any story has any significance at all is if people are more than just biological and historical processes. Meaning only exists if there is a God who exists outside of and over and above it all to say that the things we feel and the things we experience matter in some way. All the stories in the Bible are meant to point us to the one big story, the story of God. It's a story of how human beings are a mess but God sent his Son in the world to save the mess. You see, you can have a story and you can share that story but that story will massively lack meaning and depth because your story is meant to point to a bigger story, the story of Jesus. And until you connect your story to that story it is just a meaningless record of pain and frustration that cannot help you or anyone else.
4. Stories are meant to be told.
Stories are stories for a reason. The first step is to think about your story, sometimes that is a thing which really helps you grow and helps to form you as a person. Then you ought to share your story, because the reason you have a story is so it can be told. You can never really know a person until you hear their story and once you hear that story there is a joining together that happens and if you've connected your story to the big story that joining is a joining in worship and thanks and love toward God. The Resolved Church in one sense ought to be a group of people who are always sharing our stories in our city all the time. There are always new chapters being added and in each chapter we tell the great story of who Jesus is, what he has done, what he is doing in our lives, and what he has yet to do in soon coming days.
I'm sure much of our time in heaven will involve the sharing of stories. So start working on your story. Start listening to other's stories. And as you make much of Jesus in your story God will use that to speak to you and anyone who hears it.
- Pastor Duane
A Definition of Community
First "community" in the Bible comes from the Greek word, koinonia, which most often gets translated as "fellowship" and means to have communion or partnership or association with a group of people. Sociologically, individuals are said to have an identity that forms in the context of a group(s). So who you are and who you become has a lot to do with who you spend time with. Psychologically, people are said to gain a "sense of community" based on membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection. So the feeling of connection is something that depends on the level of a person's involvement. Theologically, when a person becomes a Christian it is not just a individual joining to Jesus but a joining to Jesus' church, universally throughout time and locally in a visible community.
An Approach to Community
One, we recognize that you can't really have real community through just seeing people at church on Sunday. It's just a reality that you will not really get to know anyone that well if you just see them briefly at an event once a week. So, though Sunday morning service is a sort of aspect of our community, it's just that, it's an aspect and alone it is not enough. A person will either always feel disconnected and/or end up creating a sort of dualistic, compartmentalized life, with Sunday church in a nice neat little box but not sharing life with any of those people at all. "Life." You know eating, drinking, playing...spending time together.
Two, we recognize that you can go overboard with church people. Some churches have something going on almost every night of the week and you can become so involved that you barely have any time for your family, much less for getting to know and spending time with people who are not Christians. For those Christians, culture is always seen as "bad" and Christians are supposedly "good" and so churches try to compete with the "bad" activities in culture by always having an "Christian" alternative. In our understanding, everyone is bad, which is why we need Jesus, why we need each other to help us become like Jesus, and why we need to be active in non-Christian communities so that other people would also put their faith in Jesus. Thus, our goal and expectation for those who are part of the community of The Resolved Church is to regularly worship together on Sundays and then get together in a smaller group once during the week.
Three, we recognize that people are different and unique and so we currently allow for many different types of communities. Our only restrictions are that the groups are gospel centered (1 Cor 2:2) and that the leaders of these groups are under the covering and accountability of The Resolved Church leadership because that is the way Jesus designed his church (Eph 4:11-12). Community groups where people are just getting drunk forsake the gospel and groups where the leadership is not under the covering of a local church forsake the called teachers of the gospel.
The Mission of Community
Lastly, the strength of a church is it's community. It is so very easy for church to slip into simply being a Sunday service. When that happens "church" ceases to be the church and starts to be more like a cardboard facade of church. The church is a body of believers called by God out of darkness and into the light of Christ and from that point on is always calling others into the light of Christ. The mission of community is Jesus.
A church with true community is like the big cement pillars that support freeway overpasses and it is like the roads that go out into the city. The pillars make a church strong by supporting people inside the church and the roads make ways for people to get connected into our worshipping community, non-Christians and Christians alike. That is why some churches call all their mid-week groups "gospel" or "missional" communities because there is an inherent mission in community. As Ephesians 4:16 says, "the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
My heart and mission as Pastor is that as we continue to grow and build upward into Jesus that our mid-week community groups would grow outward numerically. We have people who are a part of community groups we attempt to funnel into regular Sunday worship and we have people who are regular on Sunday we attempt to funnel into community groups. Both are needed and both are extremely important.
May Jesus continue "build his church" as the "gates of hell" continue to fail at trying to take it down (Mt 16:18).
- Pastor Duane
I work at a group home on Thursdays and Fridays. There is rarely a week that goes by where one kid doesn't get in a fight with another one. Always. Always. Some dude said something or did something which makes the guy on the receiving end, feel justified or right in retaliating. It's easy to look in on that from the outside and see it and see its futility. But what about the other ways we do this.
For example, say I get a phone call, text or an email with some disappointing or frustrating or even anger invoking news. You have to go into work when you didn't expect to...you didn't get the raise you wanted...someone you love is mad at you...the thing you were counting on and looking forward to fell through...whatever the news is. Do I immediately fire off a response to try solve the situation in some way, to let the other person know my opinion. Or maybe instead, I recluse and draw back and decide to ignore the news in hopes that it will just eventually go away and I'll feel better later.
Both are reactions of the heart and both are vengeance. What makes one vengeance is the same thing that makes the other, a response that dislikes whatever the news is and determines to get back at it. One may cause more outwardly visible damage than the other but both cause their damage in the soul. It is the dislike, or probably better, despise of anything negative, challenging, hard or bad that ruins us and revenge fills our heart.
The gospel saves us from our vengeful selves. First, justice is God's. Romans 12:10 "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" Then on top of it, the Bible's view is that it isn't even enough just to not try to be God or blame God but that the sense of vengeance which arises out of us is sin in itself. Last Sunday's study was in Romans 8:28 where we learn to recognize ALL THINGS which occur as being for our good from God, if we are lovers of him.
The crazy thing is we crave revenge even though we deserve to be on the receiving end of much revenge. The gospel saves us from our vengefulness and from the revenge we deserve in this way...God deals out just, wrathful, vengeance upon his innocent son Jesus because Jesus offered himself in our place. Jesus, one without ever wanting revenge suffering the revenge we should receive. For the Christian then, in so far as we believe in and trust Jesus, our venge is replaced by love and thanks so that when the unexpected news comes we find ourselves naturally reacting differently. We can because we know we no longer have a God awaiting his repayment toward us for our sin, instead we have a God who is for us and working things for our good.
Does that mean there is never a time to fight? Not necessarily. Men should protect their families, not their pride, honor or possessions...but those God has entrusted to them. But the point is this. Vengeance is God's and whether you are a guy or a girl...sin will always try to get you in a response of venge, whether it is outward or inward. When you sense that, look to the cross, give away your venge once more and trust God in his goodness toward you, even in the small things which can really upset you. He is for your good, so love him and his Son.
- Pastor Duane
To listen to my most recent sermon CLICK HERE
In 2003 a movie came out starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson called "Lost in Translation." Now I don't know if Bill or Scarlett read the Bible or not. The movie was about the human sense of alienation, loneliness, and confusion we experience sometimes. Perhaps you have felt this way when it comes to Bible translations and wondered why there are so many different Bibles?
First off, there are translations because the Bible was originally written in Greek and Hebrew and thus must be translated into English. Second, not all words in Greek and Hebrew have a directly corresponding equivalent English word. That is where the rub is and where you translate one way or another based on how you view translations should be done. And because of that, there are over a hundred Bible translations. You can check out what most of them are here.
The most popular and famous translations are The King James Version (KJV), The New King James Version (NKJV), The New International Version (NIV), The New American Standard Bible (NASB), The New Living Translation (NLT), The Message (TM), and the English Standard Version (ESV). There are four reasons why I personally use and why the church I pastor uses the ESV.
The ESV considers all the manuscripts available and gives more weight to the earlier ones. There are over 25,000 manuscripts of the Bible. We do not have the original documents, called autographs, what we have are meticulously made copies. Out of those copies the ESV most often translates from the earlier manuscripts because they are more likely to represent the original autographs. We can tell what ones are earlier by what kind of paper they were written on and whether they were written in uncials or minuscules, which are kind of like letters and capital letters.
There is a fair amount of variation between the manuscripts of the Bible, just like there are variations in books today based on printed edition. With the Bible it is the same, though most the variations are misspellings or number differences, etc. only about 1.5% of the variations actually have any doctrinal impact (saying something about God, Jesus or salvation). The point is we should try and be as accurate as possible by translating from the manuscripts closest to the original documents the apostles and prophets wrote. And the ESV does this! The KJV and the NKJV do not. They only consider manuscripts discovered prior to 1516, collectively called the "Textus Receptus" and give more weight (authority/authenticity) to the number of manuscripts instead of how early they date.
If you are weird and you want to learn what "sinaiticus" and "bezae" mean and you find out that what I am saying is true about manuscripts, the best book on the planet addressing it is "The Text of the New Testament" by Bruce M. Metzger.
The goal of the ESV is to provide the best corresponding English word in its translation of each Greek or Hebrew word. It takes a literal or verbatim approach. Other approaches are much different. The New Living Bible and The Message take an approach where they attempt to translate the Greek or Hebrew ideas rather than the words themselves. The NIV attempts to try and do a little of both, which is called a "dynamic equivalence" translation.
The problem is none of these approaches are really translations, they are interpretations. If your goal is to translate "ideas" then you are really making a lot of interpretive decisions rather than translating the word for word as much as possible and letting the reader decipher the meaning. The Message and the Living Bilbe are really more like commentaries and the NIV is the worst of all because it claims to be a "translation" but translates according to a particular type of theology and sometimes even leaves whole Greek phrases out (see Rom.4:1), which make a big difference in how you interpret the passage.
I had used a NIV translation for several years and had become very attached to it. All my markings and time spent with it made it hard to give up...it was my personal Bible. But when I discovered it made so many interpretive decisions for me and sometimes chose to not even deal with whole Greek phrases, in 2001 I realized I could no longer use it as my Bible and I switched to the ESV. If any of you are using an NIV I plead with you to get another Bible to read. If you want to use the NIV as a commentary that is fine, but it is not a reliable "translation."
Those who are critical of "literal" approaches to translation claim that if you just translate word for word then the Bible ends up being very choppy and difficult to read. To a certain extent they are correct. The NASB is probably the most literal translation that exists but sometimes it is hard to make sense of things because it is not very smooth in it's readability. Sometimes it follows the Greek word order so close that it the English sentences turn out being grammatically incorrect and thus hard to read.
The ESV does a remarkable job at keeping the flow and smoothness of reading while still translating word for word into our current English language. It is translated by a team of over 100 scholars, many of whom I greatly respect. For a full list of translators, check them out here: www.esv.org/translation/team The amazing thing about the ESV is that it is sufficient both for substantial theological study and for personal devotional reading. It doesn't have "thee's" and "thou's" like the KJV and it is not chunky and hard to follow like the NASB.
If you find yourself lost in translations, my recommendation is the ESV. I think it is the best English Bible out there and I wish everyone would use it so we didn't all have different translations when we study together on Sunday. But if you don't have enough money to buy one for yourself yet, there are always ESV Bibles for you to use at the back table. If you want to read a longer, even more in-depth article explaining translations and why you should use the ESV, go here: www.evangelicalbible.com/why.htm
If this journal entry has sparked your interest in how different people view the Bible in terms of it being a book and whether or not it is true or inspired by God, here is an article I wrote about that which I encourage you to read: www.theresolved.com/downloads/TheBible.pdf
- Pastor Duane
Yes, criticism is difficult, there is no way around it...but the reason it is difficult usually comes down to pride. Most of the time we either think we are smarter or more together than we really are, at least we wish we were. And usually we are wanting to trying to impress someone or some group of people. We all want to look good! So criticism is very humbling.
But one who is mature withholds his tongue and one who is wise takes things in and considers them. So often it is very difficult for us to see how we really are or how we really come across, so having someone who will lovingly be straight with you is an incredible gift. The Bible has a lot to say about this, the receiving criticism/reproof (same thing).
Proverbs 6:23 "For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life."
Proverbs 12:1 "Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid."
Proverbs 15:11 "The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise."
Psalm 141:5 "Let a righteous man strike meâ€”it is a kindness; let him rebuke meâ€”it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it."
2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness."
The way I counsel people and what I strive to practice in my own life is this: First, we are sinful human beings. Knowing that, we are very likely to be in the wrong when there is conflict or distress of any sort. Second, knowing our sinfulness, our response should be to first assume we are guilty and try and see it from another person's eyes before you begin to point out another's fault and consider how we might be innocent. So often we jump to justifying and thus never grow from the experience because we conclude we are not at fault. Third, we should be quick to repent (godly sorrow and change in behavior). Mark your experiences so you don't fall into the same traps.
How strong is your upper-cut? Don't take cheapshots and instead work on developing a solid chin. Jesus was a master at dodging the cheapshots and delivering a kind word of correction. So many times he would sit down the disciples and telling them what's up. And then for those who came at him with their "yeah but's," he had a mean uppercut awaiting.
- Pastor Duane
To listen and/or download my latest sermon CLICK HERE
Now, we don't think Christians today should have to wear phylacteries or tefillin, but everything should be driven by our love for God, whether it is the work of our hands, what we think and how we see things, or how we live in our house and raise our families. Simply put, it is a heart issue. So what Christians have done for centuries to help have the words of the Bible drive our lives, is to memorize it.
To memorize is to take a sentence or a paragraph or more and know it so that you can quote it by memory. We do this all the time with music. How many songs do you have memorized word for word? It is ridiculous how many song lyrics I have stuck in my head. I can not have heard a song for years and if it comes on the radio, I know every word. So the issue is not whether we are able to memorize but whether we are dedicated and love the Bible and its God enough to listen to it and read it frequently to memorize it.
I still remember the first Bible verse I ever memorized, Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths." I can't tell you how many times this verse comes to my head. Recently, I made up a tune for it and I sing it to my daughter daily.
In over 10 years now of pastoral ministry...I have seen time and time again, people who get excited about Jesus for awhile and serve him for a little while...and then it fades away. There are a lot of people who I have known and ministered to that have made professions of faith and been apart of Jesus' church and his people for a given time but then made bad decisions in their lives, leaning on their own understanding, and end up turning away from Jesus, His church, and his people. It is heartbreaking. The lure is so strong to lean on our own understanding.
I realize that my daughter's greatest need her entire life long is to trust Jesus. To stick close to him and not think she knows better and do what she wants, serving herself, instead of doing what God wants and worshipping him. I cannot save my daughter and I cannot save any of the people I pastor, only Jesus can. So the goal of my life is to teach her and to teach all of you to trust Jesus, to put all of your faith alone in Jesus for everything. It is the only hope for any of our lives.
So how do you let the Bible drive your life and keep you from leaning on your own understanding? Put your faith in Jesus and memorize the words of the Bible. If you have never done this I suggest you start today. Pick a verse, hand write it out on a little piece of paper, put it in your pocket and read it several times a day for several days in a row until you know that verse. And as you do that, think about it and meditate on it and let it conform and drive your life.
- Pastor Duane
To listen and/or download my latest sermon CLICK HERE
Why do some of the songs we sing use archaic Shakespearian language that normal human beings living in San Diego do not use, like "thee" and "thou"? We use "up to date" Bible translations so why not the songs? These are good questions.
The answer is one that doesn't really fall within a category of right or wrong, but merely the stylistic approach of a church. But like everything we at The Resolved Church do, we have thought about it a little bit.
Our goal is, number one, to always follow Scripture. Ephesians 5:19 tells us to incorporate in our worship "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart." So that is why our music worship leader usually has a mix of a Psalm reading, singing of hymns, and praise choruses.
It is hymns that have the old "thee" and "thou" language in them. It is part of what makes them a hymn, a traditional song of the faith. So, if we were to take them out and change all "thee" and "thou" occurrences to "you" and "your", then the hymns would sort of lose some of their identity. We are a church that greatly treasures our history and looks back upon our Christian heritage with great respect and gratitude. We take pride that we are part of the orthodox Christian faith handed down to us by those who have gone before us (Heb 13:7). So we are always trying to mix the new with the old. We are young traditionalists pursuing the ancient future!
A second reason we like to sing hymns is that usually, hymns have more doctrine in them then choruses. Choruses tend to focus on one repetitive phrase where hymns have several verses, which dig at the core of what we believe. We are not against songs of petition and repetition, but believe the core of worship is a response to who God is and what he has done. We love because he first loved us and that's why we sing. We sing in attitude of response and thanks.
Lastly, there is something about "thee" and "thou" which carries with it this sense of the otherness, the holiness, or the transcendence of God. Martin Buber, the Jewish existential philosopher wrote a little book he is famous for called "I and Thou." Buber is best known for his revival of Hasidic Judaism...for all you Matisyahu fans, that's what he is. Buber actually argued that God himself is too other, holy, mystical, and eternal for humans to authentically interact with him and so the answer is to treat each other as "thou" and through that connect to the divine. His philosophy makes sense since he didn't know Jesus who enables us to boldly go before God's throne.
But he touches on the distinct and vast difference of God and us. It's what you feel if you walk into a Cathedral and see the high ceilings and big stained glass windows. It's what you feel if you look out across the ocean or up into the stars in the sky and feel how small you are. God is "thou" totally and completely other and different and holy. That's good for us to remember and somehow "you" just doesn't do that.
May you be humbled this week as you worship our great and awe striking God.
1. Everything is about Jesus. Mt. 5:17; Lk 24:27
Of course there is a right way and a wrong way to understanding how everything is related to Jesus. For example... My computer right now is sitting on a table while I write. Jesus was a carpenter. So my typing is related to Jesus because he made tables. WRONG WAY! :) I am typing right now. Typing is the communicating of thoughts. I am unable to think right because of sin. But Jesus died for me so that I might be freed from sin and begin to think clearly. Thank you Jesus for not sinning, for thinking clearly, and dying for my sin so that I might think like you. Thank you for giving me a Bible which tells me how you think. RIGHT WAY! :)
2. I like the way it sounds. Mt 1:21
Jesus is yeshua in Hebrew which means "the LORD saves." When I say Jesus I think, the LORD saves...he saves me...and somehow the sound of the syllables makes a sweet sound in my ear. Jesus is not just a name like my name, "Duane." Jesus name carries with it a monumental significance pertaining to who he is. He is Jesus, the one who can and does save me.
3. Jesus is God. Jn 1:1,14
You can talk about God to a lot of people and that is kosher, it is cool, it is acceptable. Why? Because, God is ambiguous. In many ways the word "God" has turned into one of the blank spaces of a mad libs book and you can make it mean whatever you want it to mean. But when you say "Jesus" that is something different. That is something very specific. That is a certain God. I say Jesus because I am amazed, confounded, humbled, and struck into worship for all that he is. The God of the universe...who took on the nature of pitiful humanity and in large veiled his deity until he died for us and rose again in order to save us. Glory be to Jesus who will one day soon return in all his full power and glory. Really...I really believe this and I am not a crazy person. It is the most sincere and logical belief one can hold.
This is probably a weird first of the new year blog. That's fine. I want this year to be a year that as far as I am concerned...Jesus gets a lot of credit both from what I say and what I do. If you get sick of hearing me say "Jesus" then too bad. Get on board. He is it. Just start saying it a lot too and you'll feel better. Jesus is our only hope, our only peace, our only joy, and our only truth. Glory to his name!
Audio & Manuscripts Below
Listen Read The Hope of Jesus- Galatians 4:4-5
Listen Read The Humility of Jesus- Philippians 2:6-11
Listen Read The Joy of Jesus- Luke 2:8-20
Listen Read The Peace of Jesus- Luke 2:8-20