Acts: F.F. Bruce

part of a series of blog posts on commentaries that I used when preaching through the book of Acts @The Grove between Easter 2010 and 2011…

F.F. Bruce is like the godfather on my commentary shelf.  Whenever I am studying a particular book in the Scripture, Bruce is included in my references if he has written on it.  For those who have never read F.F. Bruce, in his best commentaries he translates from the original languages and then comments on his own original translation.  It’s dynamic!

Of course, his comments and explanations on Acts are no exception.  Bruce goes through paragraph by paragraph and gives much historical details that leads into practical intersections and applications in life today.

If you ever desire to study Acts, begin with Bruce – even if you read other commentaries, they themselves likely began with (and cite frequently) Bruce’s work.

Why Emergers Won’t Quit on Bell

This blog is from Tall Skinny Kiwi about the relational nature of younger generations and their willingness to stick with Rob Bell.  You can read it here: Rob Bell and the new generation.

Of interest to me was this quote:

Rob Bell will not become irrelevant simply because his book was a lemon and his theology found wanting. He is loved by many people and they will be committed to see him mature and move forward. Young people are a relational bunch: they stick to their friends and they believe people can change, especially when those people are open to conversation. They are NOT consumers who shop around for the most-correct theologian they can find in the yellow pages and then commmit to follow them and their groupies until someone points to a better show. I think the critics of Rob Bell will suffer more than Rob Bell. Many were too quick to wash their hands of him and host inquisitions for his book.

TallSkinnyKiwi recognizes that Bell’s theology is being found to be incomplete, yet this does not mean that a whole generation of young leaders are going to give up on them.  Instead, they are going to leave the leaders who quit on Bell and criticized him publicly before the book was even released.

For new generations, people are more important than dogmas.  Change is always possible and even welcomed.  This is what it really means to live in a way where acting right is more important than being right.  Younger generations would rather stick with a friend than shop for the theologian who is going to best represent them.  Young people would rather stick with a group, than shop for a group with a better hang out.  They’d rather stick with a community of believers (on mission) than bail for flashier programs.

That’s why, at the end of the day, I am not angry or scared at the ideas and theologies in Love Wins, I’m instead disappointed in the holes in the ideas.  Like others, I’ll stick with Bell and see where it takes us.  I don’t have to agree with all the doctrinal points to chose authors to appreciate – but I do have to appreciate their contribution – both to the kingdom of God, and (of course, thus,) to the world.

Play-Off Picks

This is looking like it is going to be an outstanding year for the NBA Playoffs, starting this weekend.  Almost every team has a viable chance at winning it all.  There are great teams that are struggling into the post season and young teams that are on hot streaks.  This weekend kicks it all off and here are my picks!

EAST

ATL vs. ORL: Orlando will destroy Atlanta.  The hawks might squeak out a single win, but this series is over before it starts.

BOS vs. NYK: Same deal, except New York will put up a better fight.  Boston will walk through this series.  If I were coach, I might even save Shaq until Boston had 3 games in their pocket.

PHI vs. MIA:  Again, this series is just for the ticket revenue.  Philadelphia might not even know the series has started and it will be over.

IND vs. CHI: Indiana still has a team?  This series will only be an encore of Rose’s  MVP season.

2nd Round:

CHI vs. ORL: This series will show how the skilled Rose is better than the athletic Howard.  Skills beats athletic ability in every playoff series.  Chicago wins.

BOS vs. MIA: This will be the most superstar filled series in the history of the NBA.  Two mega teams with multiple superstars.  The only problem is one set of superstars is a decade older than the other, and they traded their young center away 6 months too early.

Conference Finals:

CHI vs. MIA: This will be the end of the road for young Chicago, only because Miami has started to play with some passion in the last couple weeks of the year and Boston will bully them which will make them enter this series with a chip on their shoulder.

WEST

MEM vs. SAS: San Antonio will eliminate Memphis without even trying.  They may not even take their starters on the road games.

NOH vs. LAL: The Lakers will also have a first round series that they can use to try out new plays and give their bench some run.  Some teams rest in the last weeks of the season, the Lakers and the Spurs will be able to in the first round of the playoffs.

POR vs. DAL: I’m calling a Portland victory.  They are hot and the Mavericks choke all the time.  Another first round loss and then Cuban will bring in scabs during the lock-out that will play even better!

DEN vs. OKC: This will be a great series, but it will be like watching two great college teams.  Fun to watch, but at the end of the day, who cares who wins this one.  The Thunder will win in the end, because of the stellar trade work in bringing Perkins on board.

2nd Round:

OKC vs. SAS: This match up will show us what happens when a college team gets to play an actual NBA team.  Thunder will win a couple, but won’t be able to match the experience of the Spurs.

POR vs. LAL: The last week of the regular season determined the results of this series.  With Bynum hurt it will be up to Kobe to carry the Lakers through this one, which he will need Artest to beat up the Blazers in order to be successful.  Problem is, the Blazers picked up Gerald Wallace, who is not afraid of Artest’s nutjob persona.  Short of Artest starting a fist fight in this series, the Blazers will pull this off.  Everyone in Portland will buy lottery tickets the next day.  Plus, Greg Oden will return for game 7 of this series, just in time to D-up on Tim Duncan in the Conference Finals.

Conference Finals:

SAS vs. POR: And it was a nice run for the Blazers.  While they may have a lot of confidence after beating the Lake Show, confidence just won’t help you beat the Spurs.  The NBA’s most boring team will once again march straight into the finals.

NBA FINALS:

SAS vs. MIA: Like I said on opening day, this year is the first of Miami’s championships.  Tim Duncan will score 50 a game because Bosh likes to chill out instead of playing defense, but the Spurs will have no answer for Lebron and Wade.  Even though Lebron may freeze up like he did last year in Cleveland, Wade is a spotlight star and will carry them to the win!

Lencioni, Death by Meeting

I have a reputation for being awesome at meetings.  I am awesome at paying attention to irrelevant drivel.  I vote with the majority with the best of them.  I read reports and then pay attention when someone else reads them out loud like it’s an Olympic event.

I also have a reputation for lying about how much I love meetings.

Which is why I love this little book by Patrick Lencioni.  Being a leader means I do loads of meetings.  I do all sorts of different kinds of meetings with all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.  What Lencioni does in this book is give an example of a meeting strategy which will increase organizationaly communication, morale and effectiveness.

The first 200 pages of the book is a story that illustrates how the meeting strategy works and the way it can be implemented.  Then there is some practical theory and ways to implement the strategy in the final 60 pages.  You would think it makes for 200 wasted pages, but it is actually an effective way to illustrate what Lencioni is trying to do.  It is also extremely easy to read through the book.

The book also hooks the reader up with some sweet online resources, so that your organization can get it going in the right direction quickly.  If you are a leader that does meetings, this could be a helpful book for you.  However, if you have to go to a lot of meetings as a participant and your leader leads sucky meetings – don’t read this book.  It will frustrate you to see how effective meetings could be!

Love Wins 7: God is Love, God is Holy?

Chapter 7 brings in the story of the prodigal son in the context of the experience of heaven and hell.  Bell points to how both brothers are living in the same narrative, but their experience of the story is completely different.  They have different motivations, different emotions and finally, different results.  Then Bell goes into a section about how some people see God as having to punish people in hell, like God is bound by His own self to do what he doesn’t want to.  The problem with that kind of logic is that it is God binding His own self, so, in effect; He is doing what he does want to.

Bell seems to have a serious problem with a God of wrath, and with Christians who believe in a God of wrath.  He seems to say that God isn’t good news.  For me, holding the two extremes of God being love and God bringing wrath is do-able.  For Bell, it doesn’t seem to be that easy.

The chapter’s content is pretty fluffy, but the stylistic writing is classic Rob Bell.  You can almost see the nooma video playing out in your head as Bell narrates the story of the prodigal son.  This chapter is stellar style.

Finally, the last chapter is a personal story from Bell, with a traditional blessing.  And then there’s acknowledgements, some recommended further reading and some websites for charitable causes that Bell is associated with.

And no endnotes.  None.  Not even one.

While others may be disturbed by the theology or the hermeneutic of Love Wins, I am most disappointed that there are no endnotes.  In Bell’s other books the endnotes are where the hidden gems are found.

Apparently there are no hidden gems when love wins.

Dang love.

Love Wins 6: Even Them?

In the sixth chapter of Love Wins Bell leaps into the puddle of all people ending up in heaven and splashes all sorts of religions all over the place.  He affirms that Jesus is the only way to God and that Jesus is saving (or drawing) all people to himself.  What is supposed to be edgy in this chapter is that Bell says that people can find salvation in Jesus in other religions besides Christianity.  This ruffles all sorts of feathers.

Of course, the Bible does not teach that Christianity saves people.  Christianity is a word given to categorize people who are trying to follow the teachings of Jesus.  Other religions don’t save people either, they are names given to people who are trying to follow a certain set of teachings, customs and rituals.  So, the questions becomes can you follow a different set of teachings, customs and rituals and still be following Jesus?

It’s an interesting question to put it mildly.  Can you be a Buddist Christian?  Can you be a Islamic Mormon?  Can you be a Duck fan from Corvallis?

While Bell wants to say, ‘for sure!’, it can’t be just announced that easily.  What we refer to as salvation or what we believe is following God is also described in other faiths – and the two are not always compatible.  What one practices in another religious system can be sinful for a person following Jesus.

I prefer McLaren’s treatment of this issue in his New Kind of Christian trilogy where he makes a distinction between being a follower of Jesus and being culturally a Christian and, in another way, being culturally traditional in your customs, but being a follower of Jesus (which remains preeminent).

Love Wins 5: Big Gospel

When you get to chapter 5 of Love Wins you might already be angry.  Or you hopefully will be wondering, so what does this all mean in real life?

This chapter Bell looks at the cross and the full and whole impact of the cross on human history.  It’s kind of a chapter that mashes together his The Gods Aren’t Angry speaking tour with Scot McKnight’s A Community Called Atonement and spreads it around on his everybody is going to be in eventually proposal from the previous chapters.

If you already hate this book, you should read McKnight first.  If you are still reading, this chapter isn’t as controversial, but it is encouraging.