Monday, October 30, 2006

One For My Wife...

It's a lot of fun being married to a person from another country. Here's a story that has a lot of truth in it:

Once there was a mouse hole with three mice inside. One day they decided to go for a walk, but suddenly they heard a cat meowing. The mice were afraid and did not go for a walk. One of the mice listened carefully to see if the cat was still there or had left. After a long while they didn't hear any more "meows" of the cat, instead they heard a dog barking. So they all left the mouse hole. When they left, how surprised they were to see the cat there again waiting for them. The mice were not able to return to their hiding place and the cat ate them all. And the cat was very happy that he had tricked them. The cat exclaimed loudly: "How great it is to be bilingual."

Not to mention that having a bilingual wife like mine will get you preferential treatment at Mexican restaurants.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why Only Ask For Daily Bread?

Last Sunday night, I preached on the Lord's prayer. I have a tendency to want to shy away from doing sermon topics that everyone has already studied a gazillion times. However, the reason we tend to study certain passages multiple times is because they are really good passages, and are worth repeating. Fred Craddock once pointed out that a preacher doesn't need to only use the latter half of an unfrequently studied minor prophet to find something refreshing for his listeners. Even the 'good old' stories continue to have great meaning for us.

I sat down and read through the prayer several times. I made a little chart and tried to analyze each line from several approaches, looking for things I hadn't caught before. Following Randy Harris' advice, I tried to approach it from the angle, "If I were to take this verse as being true and necessary for my life, what does it mean I would have to do differently?"

It's a pretty powerful prayer when you stop and consider what demands you make of yourself when you pray things like, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." If you have time, sit and read through that prayer, asking what each part of it demands of you. "What do I need to do differently in my life to be able to justifiably say this to God?"

I was particularly intrigued when I thought about the advantages of praying only for my 'daily bread'. I've seen some big crazes (such as Prayer of Jabez) where people say, "Pray that your territory will be expanded! That God will give you more and bless you more! Think of how much stuff you miss out on because you don't ask for it!" ...Yet Jesus only asked for daily bread.

So I started thinking, what if I only ask God to give me the bare essentials? "God, today I would love to have a couple of square meals to eat, and safety from any major injuries." If all I ask for is enough to get by, God's generosity very quickly becomes overwhelming.

So for the last few days, I've limited the prayer requests for myself to asking for the bare necessities. But this morning, I woke up with plenty more than what I requested. I not only have a place to lay my head; it happens to be a top-of-the-line Serta mattress with a comfy pillow (not to mention my beautiful wife sleeping next to me); located in my well-furnished bedroom, in my spacious house with an excellent heating and cooling system. I drove to work in my more-than-adequate truck listening to whatever I felt like on my iPod. Not only did I have bread to eat; I had pretty well whatever else I wanted with a variety of toppings and condiments to enhance the flavor. My health is good, my family is good, and I like my job.

What a blessed person I am. I challenge you to start only requesting what you need from God, then compare that to what he is actually giving to you, and his generosity will overwhelm you. It has me. And with such great blessings is bound to come great responsibilities...but I'll save that one for another post.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Happy Blogiversary!

I just had to point out that I have now been blogging for one year. It's been a lot of fun. My friend Justin at the grad school was reading these mysterious web pages by people I knew, and then he showed me his (called 'heptide') and explained to me that these things are called "Blogs". And I thought, "I'd like to try that." So now it's one year later and I've made about 170 posts, and have had over 4,000 visitors. Pretty cool! It has been a great way to keep in touch with old friends and with my family whom I don't get to see very often. I've always wanted to keep a diary, but I much prefer typing to writing, and I like the connectedness of the internet. So this is a good fit. As of right now, I have no intentions of slowing down. Perpetual Timothy will keep rocking.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Best Teaching Advice I've Gotten So Far

I mentioned to you all a few posts ago that I will be teaching an OT Survey at Harding this Spring, and many of you responded either on this blog or on facebook with kind words, that I have appreciated. I've asked your advice for how I should teach. I've gotten lots of clever comments, but I don't think any tops what my friend Robert sent me. Though it contains a few inside jokes, I'm attaching it for your amusement:

Hey Mark,

I haven't talked to you since learning that you got the OT teaching job at Harding. I just want to say congratulations! With that, I have a few thoughts that might help you get started.

1. The first thing you need to do is get respect from your students. On or before the first day of class, start a rumor around school that you killed a kid at your last teaching job. There are many ways to do this, such as making anonymous phone calls to students, using your underground network of friends, or making a chapel announcement. When students fear you, they'll respect you.

2. Since you are teaching Old Testament, approach your class with the understanding that nothing you teach will actually be relevant to the students. I mean, Mark, It's the OLD Testament. This is HARDING University. Not the Yom Kippur Center for Kids Who Can't Slaughter Animals Good. In fact, on your syllabus, make it clear to the students that none of the information they will be taking in during your class will ever be useful in any way, shape or form. Stapled to the back of that syllabus should be H_____'s Discourse on Jesus and Grace. Followed by D_____'s review on said discourse (Well, H_____!).

3. As far as textbooks go, there was one good one I had in mind but I keep forgetting what it's called. Wait, i think I remember now. Aww man I lost it. Maybe it'll come back later. I know you'll want to take a scholarly approach to the Old Testament, so you need look no further than the greatest OT scholar of our time, Max Lucado. I mean, seriously, if you aren't just enlightened and captivated by his superior intellect and skill, you have no soul. Oh, hey, I finally remember the name of that textbook! It's called....THE BIBLE.

All joking aside, I know you'll do a great job. I look forward to your visit in a week!