Where is God in this?

These first few weeks of seminary have given me a new perspective on a number of things related to ministry. Some comical, others not so much.

My Intro to Old Testament/Hebrew Bible teacher gives us a lot to think about. A lot.

This past week, we studied the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. For those of you who are not familiar, check it out. It’s a sad story and a story that is still being lived by so many women. So, after the scripture is read, the prof asks, “Where is God in this story? Where is God for Tamar? What kind of God would allow this to go on?” I initially don’t have a response and sit there looking at him blankly. As I thought about his question, I had to remind myself who I think God is. Who I know God to be. I had to revisit how God is portrayed in my life.

There were a few answers from some of my classmates and I finally chimed in, once I got my thoughts together. I asked why the teacher presented the question as he did. I asked him why we should assume God isn’t in the story just because God’s name isn’t mentioned? I wasn’t satisfied with the answer I got. I couldn’t figure out where he was going with this in the context of the lesson. “How do we preach this story now? Where is the hope in this story?” he asked.

After much discussion he finally said to the class, “What I’m trying to do is find out if you are creating space for the Amnons of the world to keep doing what they’ve been doing or if you are going to help the Tamars of the world find a voice.” That I understood. I want to be one who helps Tamar find her voice. I want to be one who doesn’t allow the Amnons of the world to push the Tamars of the world into a life of silence and shame.

As for the story of Tamar and Amnon, the class never agreed whether God was present or not. Some said God was there but silent. Others said God couldn’t have been there, which then calls into question the omnipresence of God. What I know is this, God is in my life. God is in control of my life. When terrible things happen to me, I don’t claim that God isn’t there but I do have to wonder where am I in relationship to God and God’s perfect will. On the other hand when good things happen I will always remember to give God the glory and the praise.

So as for me and my house, we believe God is in fact in control. The question for me isn’t so much “Where is God?” but “Where am I?”.


Joshua and hip hop music

Ok, I admit Joshua and hip hop are not actually related in this post, but I will address them both when it is all said and done. 🙂

Last night I made a significant breakthrough on the exegetical paper on Joshua 1, thanks in no small part to my pastor the Rev. Marvin A. Moss. Sunday night Moss preached the first night of revival at St. James UMC in Alpharetta, Ga, a church he once pastored. During the sermon he talked about courage, a key component of Joshua 1, and gave us a brief word study, which is where the lightbulb came on for me. His text was John 16:33 and the subject of his sermon was “When Life Happens.” It was a wonderful message, that served dual purposes for me. I anticipate working on the paper this evening when I get home from United Methodist history class.

Now on to hip hop… my assignment for Hebrew Bible/Old Testament class is proving tricky yet fun. The assignment is to find a “popular expression” of a biblical passage — meaning find a Bible verse in a secular setting — and analyze its secular meaning and explore its original intent in the Bible. I’ve found a couple of possibilities, hopefully I can get to class early enough to sign up for the passage I want. The due dates for the paper are based on where the passages are found in the Bible. The passage I really want to use is found in the Latter Prophets and would be due 11 November, so I really hope I can get one of the seven (7) slots for the Latter Prophets. I have a feeling there will be plenty of room to sign up for passages found in the Former Prophets or Chronicler, as those papers are due 30 September. **sigh**

By the way, many, many thanks to those of you who read Joshua 1 and offered feedback and shared with me what questions popped to mind during and after your reading. If you still want to read it and give me your questions, you have until Tuesday night to do so.

Bibles, bibles everywhere!

I’m sitting here on a Saturday night studying six different translations of Joshua 1. It is actually more fun than it might sound. I’m working on an exegetical paper of Joshua 1 that is due Thursday.

Luckily my classes today didn’t dump a whole lot of reading, unexpected reading I should say, in my lap, so I can spend tonight and tomorrow working on my paper due Thursday. Somewhere in there I do have to read chapter three of “Wesley and the People Called Methodist,” for United Methodist History class on Monday night. There’s plenty of time, right?

So, I’m sitting here writing out questions I need or want to find answers to, as it relates to Joshua 1. A lot of the questions are the basic who, what, why, when and where. But there are also deeper questions about winners and losers, who is telling the story and for what purpose, for instance.

Have you read Joshua 1? What questions did you have about the text?

Exegesis and the Text… also known as Beauty and the Beast

Tonight was my Intro to Preaching class. I love this class. The teacher, Dr. Lomax, is energetic and he engages the class in conversation instead of talking at us. His assignments are going to be the most challenging for me, I think, but in a good way.

For those who don’t know, exegesis is a major component — some would likely say the foundation — of a well prepared sermon. Exegesis, pronounced EX-see-gee-sis, is a “critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text” according to Wikipedia. My preaching professor concurs.

Our assignment for next week is a three to five page exegetical paper on our selected text for the semester. Last week we had to declare a text for the semester, from about 15 Dr. Lomax pre-selected. I chose Joshua 1, so to speak. I went through all of the choices Dr. Lomax gave us and looked them up. I read each of the texts and waited for one to choose me. When I read Johsua 1 I knew it was the one that spoke to me, but I looked up the others just so I could say I did.

If you don’t know the story of Joshua, you might want to check him out. He’s first introduced to us in Exodus and his story continues through the book that bears his name. He’s put in some pretty interesting situations and asked to do some pretty heavy things. My job is to take Joshua 1 and “unpack it,” as Dr. Lomax would say, or interpret the text. This is not an easy assignment. Interpreting the text is a serious, serious undertaking. So I’m going to need your prayers and support over the next seven days as I work through this text and this text works through me.

If any of you are so inclined, take a few minutes and read Joshua 1. Tell me what you think the first chapter is about. I’ll share more of my thoughts on it in my next posting.

Preaching through parables

This entry serves two purposes. One to make sure my posts are showing up on my Facebook page. And two, to see what you all think about the idea of storytelling in preaching.

In my preaching class, the assignment this week was to write a one-page reflection paper on the elements of storytelling. We’re reading a book called “The Preacher as Storyteller,” by Austin B. Tucker. In the first chapters he talks a lot about preachers who don’t like the idea of storytelling while preaching.

What do you think? Are there times with you think using a story in a sermon is inappropriate? Are there stories you’ve heard in sermons that you will never forget? Please share!


P.S. I’ll tell you what I got on my paper when I get the grade back.