In the Shade of Two Trees # 11: Two Trees, One Arborist

By Scott Anderson

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus claims that He has come to fulfill the law, not to abolish it, (Matthew 5:17). In fulfilling the law, however, Jesus distinguishes between the ethical (the way of law) and the experiential (the way of love). Jesus undertakes a series of distinctions between what the people have been taught by the religious leaders and what He is teaching. In chapters 5 through 7 of Matthew, Jesus corrects the customary interpretations of the law—“you have heard it said”—with his own interpretations—“but I say.”

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On The Table Podcast: The Opening Portrait

By Steve Flowers and Jordan Flowers

In this episode, Steve and Jordan discuss the opening portrait Mark 1: 2-39 paints of Jesus — both the path to and initial acts in Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus’ preparation included strategies for us all to consider and his initial ministry acts reveal the primary traits Jesus will exhibit throughout Mark’s Gospel.

This is the 2nd installment of the periodic series studying through The Gospel of Mark.

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In the Shade of Two Trees #10: Jesus and His View of God

By Scott Anderson

Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus did not speak much about a terrifying and dictatorial God, one who spoke to humans only through fire and smoke and who would decimate populations whenever it served His unknowable purposes. Jesus believed that God was immanent, a God who chose to create the world and then inhabit it, who chose to create humans and incarnate Himself in them. “The kingdom of heaven,” Jesus assured His disciples, “ is within you.” Luke 17:21.

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In the Shade of Two Trees #9: The Religious Leaders and Their View of God

By Scott Anderson

We have reviewed two ways in which to interpret God’s seven distinct attributes. We can view God through the lens of righteousness, or we can view God through the lens of relationship. We have scriptural evidence of what happens when we view God through either of these lenses. The Religious Leaders of Jesus’ day – the Pharisees – tended to view God through an ethical lens. And Jesus tended to view God through an experiential lens. Here, we will look at the Pharisees’ religious habits.  Continue reading “In the Shade of Two Trees #9: The Religious Leaders and Their View of God”

A Reflection on Romans 13 in light of its use by Attorney General Sessions

By Steve Flowers

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due. (Romans 13:1-7, NRSV)

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In the Shade of Two Trees #8: God-the-Sustainer

By Scott Anderson

One way of reading the Genesis narrative is as a story about punishment for disobedience. The direct consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobeying God was death. The first couple sinned and, as punishment, were banned from paradise and afflicted with mortality. God’s favor initially rested on them: they had full access to the garden, its delights, and to God as well as God’s devotion. But when the couple disobeyed, God killed them for it.

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On The Table Podcast: The beginning of the good news…

By Steve Flowers and Jordan Flowers

The first episode in a periodic series studying through The Gospel of Mark. In this initial installment, Jordan and Steve discuss why Mark is special to each of them, the important issues in the book’s background, and what the first verse establishes, all of which aid in better understanding the book as a whole.

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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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