Archive for February, 2013

Review: Abraham

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Abraham: Following God’s Promise (http://www.logos.com/product/20888/abraham-following-gods-promise-complete-church-curriculum-for-leaders-and-pastors) is a course published by Logos, and so available only for computer and not as printed material. I was provided with a free copy, and this is my review of it.

The product contains a lot of material: a book for group members, and a book for leaders that organizes the material in two different ways, for leading a small group and for preaching a sermon. There are also short videos that present each study (basically a person reciting what would be the first paragraph). There are also sermon handouts, teaching slideshows and small group handouts, which can be downloaded from the above web page. So there is a lot of material which can be used.

What stands out for me in the study guide is the background material, with the literary context, historical and cultural background, and how the passage is used not only in the rest of the Bible back also in other ancient texts. It would be too much to use in a study (which is a positive thing), but would be good for the group members to read beforehand.

On the other hand, I find the emphasis of the interpretation of the passages is too much on the experience of the group members, and not on God. Often the drift of the study is “Have you ever felt like Abraham did?”, and then we should be like or not like Abraham, and we see one of God’s characteristics in this way. Whereas I would have liked it the other way around: “What do we learn about God from how he revealed himself through Abraham?”, and then “How should be behave or think as a result?” This is a question of emphasis, which would only requiring changing the order of the study. More difficult is that it is missing a sense of the Biblical narrative and the progression of God’s plan. Sure, as I said it is very good at picking up the references in the rest of the OT and in the NT to Abraham, but they are still not placed in God’s story. So we do not see how Abraham’s story is leading up to Christ, except where there is the parallel of the sacrifice of Isaac. There is therefore hardly any mention made to the actual content of Genesis 12:1-3, only to the fact that Abraham showed faith in responding to the call despite not knowing what exactly he was being called to (and so, “Have you ever felt the same way what responding to God’s call?” is the question in the study). But the content of God’s promises in these three verses, not just the fact that God promised and Abraham followed, are fundamental to understand God’s  response to the sin of Gen 1-11, and how he would bring blessing to all nations through Jesus Christ, which all of the rest of the OT prepares for.

Winter events

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

I have not written many posts lately, as it has been a period of “ordinary administration” in the church and in the mission, with little special to write about, as is usual in these winter months. But things will start to hot up next month, with a number of non regular events planned. In the meantime, today there was one of the few winter activities, with an outing after church for the children of the Sunday School. This year we took them up the mountain that is next to Trento for some toboggan and sled riding down the slopes. They are had a great time, as did the teachers as we got to spend some good time with them. It was also a good opportunity to catch up with the children from the Rovereto church, who came as well. There was also one of the children from last year’s camp. Speaking of which, on Saturday the family had a scouting trip to the place we will probably use for this year’s camp in June. The preparations are going ahead for that, so keep praying for the organisation that Pinuccia and I and several other people are doing, and especially for the children who will be attending.

Losing my job

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Lately I have been preparing a group of five people to lead the church services, to help out the current leaders and to be ready for future church growth. Today was the first time one of them led a service, to be followed in the next couple of months by the others. It was great to see him do such a great job, I think better than how I do it! This will mean that there will be another “public” part of my ministry that I will have to do very little in the future – only one Bible study group and sharing a Sunday School class with two other people remain. But there is still a lot to do preparing new leaders for the various ministries of the church, and helping and encouraging the existing ones.