In the Shade of Two Trees #7: God-the-Provider

As we learned last time, Adam was given dominion over all the earth. This included dominion over “every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” Genesis 1:29. God also gave “every green plant for food” to every beast of the earth, every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:30. God makes sure to provide for all living creatures by giving them sources of food. And those sources were abundant; the provisions could sustain all of life on the earth.

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In the Shade of Two Trees #5: God-the-Lover

By Scott Anderson

The story of Adam and Eve is often told as morality play: boy meets girl; boy gets girl; girl listens to a slippery serpent; girl gets boy to eat an apple; both receive the death penalty for disobeying God. The Genesis narrative supports themes of deception and betrayal, covetousness and shame, disobedience and punishment. Theologians argue that the story tells us about God’s motive for creating humans in the first place. God created humans as upright (physically and morally) creatures who could freely choose to love and obey God. The creatures failed miserably. And God was forced—by the very nature of their “original sin”—to separate God-self from them. God cannot be infected with sin; but the whole world could be. So Adam and Eve, all their descendents, and every living thing on the planet were pronounced worthy of death.

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In the Shade of Two Trees # 3: God-the-Knower

By Scott Anderson

In the Christian tradition, God is described as omniscient, all-knowing. We, of course, do not emulate God’s infinite mind. Although we are “made in the image and likeness” of God, we never describe ourselves as all-knowing. Experience proves otherwise. So, if we are made in God’s image, and we are some kind of intelligent being, what kind of godly intelligence do we have? How is our intelligence like God’s intelligence?

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In the Shade of Two Trees # 2: God-the-Creator

By Scott Anderson

The first verse of Genesis identifies God as a creator, the creator of the heavens and the earth, of sky and sea, of animals and humans. The story quickly turns from the viewpoint of God to the viewpoint of God’s first human creation: Adam. God gives responsibility to Adam, God’s crowning creation, to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth and subdue it.”   Genesis 1:28. After placing Adam above all created things, God evaluates God’s creation and judges it “very good.” Genesis 1:31.

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In the Shade of Two Trees # 1: Genesis and the Two Trees

by Scott Anderson

A weekly reflection on a seminal scriptural question: What does it mean to be created in God’s image? Because there are two ways of thinking about this image-bearing capacity, it is understandable that we might get confused about our relationship with God and to God’s creation. The series argues that the key to solving our image problem begins with a reconsideration of Adam and Eve’s choice between the two trees at the center of the Garden of Eden.

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Stories From A Village Podcast: PRIDE and Why it matters

Ivy sits down with Stone Village pastor John and one of the church’s worship leaders Quinn to talk about Pride. We cover it all: Why it’s sometimes difficult to “come out” as Christian to your fellow LGBTQ folk, why Pride matters to us as a Christian community, and the aspects of Pride we grapple with (hello, corporate sponsorship). We hope you enjoy the conversation and stay tuned for more episodes!

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The Jesus Criterion #17 – The Jesus Criterion: final thoughts

By Steve Flowers

The focus of The Jesus Criterion has been to argue the two most important touching points to understanding the Bible as a whole. The most important one is having a robust understanding of the inspired nature of the Bible. And the nature of the Bible’s inspiration is that it is a holy mess centered in Jesus as the greatest living revelation of God. The second most important touching point to understanding the Bible directly follows from that view of inspiration. It is the biblical witness to consistently use the words and actions of Jesus as the standard of measure through whom we interpret the entire Bible. Using the Spirit’s guidance, church doctrine and personal spiritual living should all be discerned through this lens.

I want to end this series with a couple of final thoughts.

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The Jesus Criterion #15 – Jesus style, part 1

By Steve Flowers

I love Google Maps. One of the small features I appreciate is the “Re-center” option that appears after I have wandered all over the map looking ahead and around where I am going, becoming completely sidetracked as to where I am in relation to the best route I need to take. Any time I lose track of where I actually am on the map, I can hit “Re-center” and immediately be brought back on the map to where I currently am located. This is why we need to study how Jesus interpreted scripture. For thousands of years Christianity has wandered all over the theological map chasing rabbits that have taken us away from the journey God wants for us. But time and again Jesus re-centers the purpose and use of scripture.

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The Jesus Criterion #14 – Jesus as our interpretive criterion

By Steve Flowers

One of my seminary professors taught me to think of God’s revelation down through history as three concentric circles that represent the various means in which God has revealed God’s self. The most inner circle is the personal revelation of God as Jesus. This is God Incarnate, that is to say God made flesh. The middle circle represents God’s revelation through all other stories, events, and persons as recorded in the Bible. The outer most circle would represent any other events in which one believes God disclosed God’s self throughout history that were not recorded in the Bible.

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The Jesus Criterion #13 – The four horsemen of interpretation

By Steve Flowers

Christians can study any number of the same biblical passages and come up with numerous differing thoughts as to how to interpret each passage. But, generally speaking, there are only four methodological styles by which Christians interpret a scripture passage. This diagram illustrates those four basic styles of biblical interpretation. Continue reading “The Jesus Criterion #13 – The four horsemen of interpretation”

The Jesus Criterion #12 – Studying the Bible 101

By Steve Flowers

In high school I had good grades and did well academically. In college I, well, let’s just say the academics, not so good. The difference? It was not my study habits. They were essentially the same… and therein laid the problem. At a high school level I was able to overcome poor study habits and still make good grades. College was more difficult and required a higher degree of study but I continued to give it the ol’ high-school try. Two years after graduating college and working in the real world, I went to seminary full-time. I had matured (a bit) and was expecting seminary to be more difficult than college. So I improved my study habits and, in turn, my grades improved as well. Similarly, good biblical interpretation begins with your study habits.

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Stories From A Village Podcast: Love Found Me

Where do we turn in our darkest moments? In this episode, Ivy talks with Aimee about how she turned to God for help, even when she wasn’t certain she belonged in church. Aimee talks openly about the long road to finding safety and acceptance after a turbulent childhood and unhappy marriage, the things she still struggles with spiritually, and how becoming a mother solidified her belief in God.

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The Jesus Criterion #10 – And the 66 winners are…

By Steve Flowers 

There is only one passage in the entire New Testament that references other books later canonized into our New Testament as already considered to be inspired scripture. The writer of 2 Peter refers to the letters “Paul wrote” as “other scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15b-16). 2 Peter was written around 90-110 C.E., approximately 30-40 years after Paul wrote the last of his letters. By this time, copies of Paul’s letters were being passed from house church to house church to be read as part of worship. Looked at from our current perspective where we have had the books of our Bible settled for some 1,600 years, this point may only evoke a polite nod. But how did the church of 2 Peter come to view Paul’s letters as being inspired? That is the question we want to ask this post.

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The Jesus Criterion #9 – And here’s what the Bible reveals…

By Steve Flowers 

Negotiators talk with subjects during crisis events with the goal of having the subject release their hostage, not commit suicide, or surrender peacefully from a barricaded position. If you have ever seen a movie or TV show that showed such a crisis, you might be led to believe the most important part of being a negotiator is knowing really insightful things to say that will fix their problems and convince the subject to end the crisis. But such crises require just the opposite. Trained law enforcement negotiators know it is active listening skills which lead to asking the subject the right questions that will be the greatest foundation to resolving the crisis safely for everyone.

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