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Organizing Your Material

filecabinet

I rarely think that I have something to offer other preachers and Bible students. I’m the guy who seeks your advice and who simply works in my own field. However, I have developed an organization system over the years that has helped me not only study better, but to document my study in such a way that I can recall it when I need it, and that allows me to be honest and responsible in recalling and citing my sources. It might not work for you, but I have gleaned so much from it that I thought I would share it for any who might benefit. My system is simple enough: It involves folders on my computer and Word documents that I call MASTER FILES.

FOLDERS

I’ll share my folder system at the end of this article. There are a few things to note about making your own folder system. First, you need to be able to find your information. My thinking and organization might not make any sense to you. For example, all of my material on prayer can be found in Systematic Topics/Worship/Prayer. In my thinking, prayer belongs in the worship folder and not as its own category among other systematic topics. Here’s another example: I have a folder called Ethics in Systematic Topics in which I store (ethical) issues such as abortion, bioethics, cremation, capital punishment, suicide, war, etc. It makes perfect sense to me; but you will certainly need to organize your folders according to how you categorize subjects in your mind. When you read an article or study a subject that you want to save for future reference, then you store it in it’s appropriate location.

A second thing to note about folders is that you need to find a balance between having as few folders as possible, but having enough to find exactly what you are looking for. Everything I do can be categorized as one of the following: Bulletin, New Testament, Old Testament, Preaching Admin., Systematic Topics and Working Material (this is material I’m presently working on that is not filed yet). For this reason, I would suggest starting with as few folders as you can, and then organizing within those folders as things begin to get cluttered.

For example, my folder on Judges (OT/Historical Books/Judges) began with almost nothing in it. Through the years, however, it has grown; and this is especially true regarding my pdf articles that I used for research. As my article collection grew and became cluttered, they could naturally be categorized by subject.

Judges

Often, articles can’t be organized according to subjects, so I organize them according to the text that they address.  Romans is a good example of this arrangement.

Romans

If you are just starting, I would begin by using as few folders as possible without a folder being so crowded that you can’t find what you are looking for. In order to make folders appear in a specific order you will want to begin the name with a number. Think ahead! In books with more than one chapter, use 01, 02, 03, etc. and in Psalms use 001, 002, 003, etc.

MASTER FILES

Here is a MASTER FILE TEMPLATE for you to download.

I use my Master File to store all information on individual subjects. The reason for this is because if you are not careful, you will end up with your information spread across 30 different sermon and class files. These files will become hundreds of pages long, but they still allow you to stay organized and all your information will be in one place. I generally only have one file for any book of the Bible, or a major subject such as the Lord’s Supper. Then, in my folders (from above), among other things, my Master File will be typed in all caps: ROMANS NOTES or LORD’S SUPPER NOTES.

There are several elements within the Master File Template that are important that I have learned about the hard way through the years. Hopefully, you can get it right the first time.

Subject: This one is pretty obvious. It will be called ROMANS or LORD’S SUPPER.

Details: I always document where and when I preach or teach my information, so I don’t repeat it on accident. If the notes under any of the headings are an outline from another’s sermon I liked or found useful, then I document who preached it and where it was preached.

Headings: Headings are important because they allow you to navigate your document quickly. In Word, go to View, and in the Show box make sure that Navigation Pane is selected. You will want to used several levels of headings in order to categorize and sub-categorize your material. In other words, this is a way of outlining. One other benefit to using headings is that you are now able to use the Table of Contents feature in Word.

In a textual study, my headings will look something like this (Judges example):

  • Heading 1: Special Introduction
    • Heading 2: Outline
    • Title
    • Authorship
    • Date
    • Purpose
    • Problems
  • 1:1-3:6 – Introduction
    • 1:1-2:5 – 1st Introduction
    • 2:6-3:6 – 2nd Introduction
  • 3:7-16:31 – Judges
    • Each major section has it’s own heading: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon (Abimelech is a sub-category of Gideon), Jephthah, Samson
  • 17:1-21:25 – Conclusion
    • 17-18 – 1st Epilogue
    • 19-21 – 2nd Epilogue
  • Special Studies
    • Women in Judges
    • Sycretism in Judges
    • God’s Mercy/Grace in Judges
  • Bibliography

Topical studies follow the same general idea, only they are organized according to the major sections of study associated with that subject. For example, I have a folder in Systematic Topics called Bible. Then, within this folder I have other folders called Canon, Inspiration, Interpretation-Hermeneutics (I often give folders multiple names because I know myself. Sometimes I will try to find something by searching for one subject name, like interpretation, and other times I will search by another name, like hermeneutics), OT in the NT, Revelation, Translation, and Transmission.

Like most subjects, it is sometimes hard to talk about any one of these categories without also talking about another (e.g. Canon and Transmission are often associated with one another). So, instead of having a Master File for each of these subjects, I have a Master File called THE BIBLE NOTES in my Bible folder along with each of these other categories of study. Then, in my THE BIBLE NOTES file, I have headings for Introduction, Authority & Revelation, Canon (sub-categories: OT, NT, Extra-Canonical Writings), Transmission (OT, NT, Textual Criticism), Translation (Principles, English Versions – another sub-category), Choosing a Bible, Alleged Errors in the Bible, Bibliography.

Citing Your Work: You only have to learn this lesson the hard way once: CITE YOUR WORK AS YOU GO! Every one of my Master Files has a Bibliography, which often has 2 sub-headings: Works that are actually cited in this document, and works that I need to find and read later. Trust me – properly cite your work from the get-go and you will be so glad you did later on.

In addition to maintaining a dynamic bibliography, use footnotes to cite every single quote you insert into your paper. You can do this in Word by clicking the Reference tab, then Insert Footnote. Cite all your work according to SBL or Chicago/Turabian formats – DO NOT used MLA in Biblical Studies. Do it right as you go! You’ll thank me for this one later.

Dynamic Outlines: The template that I have offered you is already set up with dynamic outlining. This is crucial for Master Files because your notes will grow and evolve over time. Dynamic outlines allow you to increase or decrease your indenting levels in major sections, and will save you from having to renumber your bullet points when you add or delete something from your outline. Always make sure that everything you type in your Master File is connected to a dynamic outline bullet.

Using Your Master Files

The key to the Master File being useful is to fill it in over a long period of time. When you read an article or book, take the necessary time to either create a Master File for that subject or to insert important quotes (documenting them as you go) under their appropriate headings in your files. At the end of every book I read (without exception), I go back through the book and either type or make a note in the appropriate Master File so the information is accessible when I need it. I know that I won’t remember that quote, or worse, I will remember it and won’t be able to find it, in 6 months or 5 years. On average, I can document an entire book in about one hour. Journal articles take about 30 minutes.

I can’t even begin to express how helpful these two things have been for me. You will be able to find what you need when you need it, and since your material will be built on a life time of (documented) study, your material will be richer and deeper. I hope this helps and that you benefit from it as much as I have.

FOLDER SYSTEM

NOTE: All my folders are numbered in order to keep them in in order so I can find them quicker.

  • Bulletin
  • New Testament
    • Synoptic
      • Parables
      • Matthew
      • Mark
      • Luke
    • John
      • Gospel of John
      • 1-2-3 John
      • Revelation
    • Acts
    • Paul
      • Romans
      • 1 Cor
      • 2 Cor
      • Gal
      • Eph
      • Phil
      • Col
      • Thess
      • 1 Tim
      • 2 Tim
      • Titus
      • Philemon
      • New Perspective
      • Paul as Philosopher
    • Epistles (This title irritates me since many of these are not formally letters; but it’s too late for me to change it)
      • Heb
      • James
      • 1 Pet
      • 2 Pet
      • Jude
    • Greek
    • NT – Other
      • Apostolic Fathers
      • Orality
      • Roman Imperial Cult
      • Social-Scientific Criticism

 

  • Old Testament (You can figure the sub-categories out)
    • Torah
      • Genesis
        • Creation
        • Flood
        • Historical Adam
        • Historical Serpent
        • Promise to Abraham
      • Exodus
      • Leviticus
      • Numbers
      • Deuteronomy
      • Themes
    • Historical Books
      • etc.
    • Poetry
      • Intro.
      • etc.
    • Major Prophets
      • etc.
    • Minor Prophets
      • etc.
    • Dead Sea Scrolls
    • Intro to OT
    • Other
  • Preaching Admin.
  • Systematic Topics
    • Alcohol
    • Apologetics
      • Intro
      • A loving God and Hell
      • Archaeology (many folders within)
      • Atheism
      • Christian Particularism
      • Church Failures
      • Jesus (Apologetics)
        • Historical Jesus
        • Resurrection
      • Misc
      • Philosophy
        • Intro
        • Cosmological Argument
        • Human Reason
        • Moral Argument
        • Ontological Argument
        • Teleological Argument
      • Problem of Evil
      • Prophecy
      • Reliability of the Bible
      • Science
        • Evolution
        • Miracles
        • Origin of Life
    • Authority
      • Silence
      • Sources
    • Bible
      • Reading
      • Canon
      • Inspiration
      • Interpretation
      • OT in the NT
      • Revelation
      • Translation
      • Transmission
    • Bible Study (These are different studies, mostly introductory, that I have had with people)
    • Character Studies
    • Christian Living
    • Church
      • Attendance
      • Buildings
      • Congregational Relationships
      • Denominations
      • Emerging Church
      • Institutionalism
      • Meals
    • Counseling
    • Deacons
    • Death
    • Disabilities
    • Distraction
    • Education
    • Elders
      • Authority
      • Church Duties of Elders
      • Qualities
      • Roles & Responsibilities
      • Selection & Appointment
    • Eschatology
      • Already but not yet
      • Heaven
      • Hell
      • Intermediate State
      • Judgment
      • New Creation
      • Resurrection
      • Second Coming
    • Ethics
      • Abortion
      • Bioethics
      • Cremation
      • Death Penalty
      • Suicide
      • War – Civil Government
      • Gambling
    • Evangelism
    • Fellowship & Discipline
    • Funerals
    • God
      • Image of God
      • Trinity
    • Heresy
      • Calvinism
      • Falling Away
      • Islam
      • Jehovah’s Witness
      • Millennialism
      • Mormon
      • Roman Catholicism
    • History
      • Ancient
      • Medieval
      • Reformation
      • Restoration
    • Holidays
      • Christmas
      • Easter
      • Lent
      • Thanksgiving
    • Holy Spirit (NOTE: This folder needs some organizing…I’m working on it)
      • God spoke to me
      • Magic
      • Miracles
    • Home (NOTE: This folder also needs organizing)
      • Divorce & Remarriage
      • Marriage
      • Men
      • Parenting
      • Pre-Marriage Study
      • Teenage Moral Issues
      • Women
    • Homosexuality
    • Humility
    • Intertestamental
    • Invitations
    • Jesus
      • Christology and Early Devotion
      • Crucifixion
      • Messiah
      • Wife
    • Judgment (NOT Judgment Day – Judge not lest you be judged stuff)
    • Justice
    • Mechanics – Research, Teaching, Writing
    • Misc (Try not to use this folder)
    • Modesty
    • Money
    • Pharisees
    • Pornography (NOTE: This is NOT where I store my porn… bad taste, I know)
    • Preachers & Preaching
    • Providence (Most of this material references Miracles Notes within Holy Spirit folder)
    • Sabbath
    • Sacrifices
    • Salvation
      • Baptism
      • Confession
      • Faith
      • Justification
      • Remain Faithful
      • Theology of Salvation
    • Satan, Demons, Angels
    • Sin
    • Speech
    • Theology
    • Weddings
    • Worship
      • Dress
      • Giving
      • Lord’s Supper
        • Love Feasts
        • Messianic Banquet
        • One Cup
      • Prayer
      • Singing
        • Harps in Revelation
        • Historic Rejection of Instruments
        • Psallo
        • Instruments in the OT
        • Restoration Refs
      • Worship
  • Working Material

Christians are different: They don’t kill their children

picture from http://www.lookandlearn.com/blog/19344/the-strange-case-of-the-indian-wolf-children-of-midnapore/

“Exposure” was a common practice in the Roman world. If a family’s firstborn was a girl (or otherwise undesirable), one available option was to “cast it out” or “expose” it. This means leave it in the woods to die.  Hear the words of Hilarion in 1 B.C. in a letter to his “sister” (i.e. his wife):

Hilarion to his sister Alis very many greetings, likewise to my lady Berous and Apollonarion. Know that we are still in Alexandria. Do not be anxious; if they really go home, I will remain in Alexandria. I beg and entreat you, take care of the little one, and as soon as we receive our pay I will send it up to you. If by chance you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it be, if it is a girl, cast it out. (The New Testament Background, Edited by C.K. Barrett, p. 40).

In a late 2nd century letter called the Epistle of Mathetes [i.e. a disciple] to Diognetus, the unknown author explains Christianity to an unbeliever. You can read the entire letter here: In chapter 5 the author describes what Christians are like. In verse 6, he says, “They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring.”

House churches only?

It seems like once a week (at least) I read an article or see/hear a comment about how local churches in the New Testament met in houses.  From a Restoration perspective like mine that’s a big deal, because if God said by word or example that all local churches must meet in houses, then you had better believe I’ll be the first one to open my doors and say, “Let’s get it right!”  In my mind, this is a non-issue because Christians in the New Testament met in a variety of physical locations, such as homes, synagogues, the temple, public places, and by the side of a river.  Even folks who don’t necessarily advocate for a house-church-only kind of arrangement today may innocently believe that New Testament Christians met in houses and that’s it.

Here are some resources and quick quotes to illustrate that the issue turns out to be more involved than a simple, “The church meets in my house.”  I don’t necessarily advocate for all of these approaches; but I simply want to make the reader aware that there has been a conversation happening for many years about this subject; and I would encourage you to not simply default to: The first Christians only met in houses.

By way of information on the subject, the first purpose-built church meeting place that I’m aware of is Dura Europos dated to 241-256.  Considering that the apostolic age did not end until somewhere between 70-100, this is extremely early.

The book I would recommend on the subject first is both expensive and time consuming; but it must be considered  before someone says, “The first Christians met in homes and that’s it.”  Edward Adams, The Earliest Christian Meeting Places: Almost Exclusively Houses?. 2013.  You may be able to check it out from a local seminary library if you have access to one.  Here is a review that leans positively, and here is one that points towards some issues.

In the following, I would simply draw attention to a common theme: Scholarly consensus has been primarily for house church; but now there are other things to consider and some questions that need answering.

Bradley S. Billings, “From house church to tenement church: Domestic space and the development of early urban Christianity—the example of Ephesus.” JTS2 (Oct. 2011): 541-569.

…the insula, [think slum apartment complexes-rb] in which the vast majority of the populace were housed, must have played a significant role in the expansion and consolidation of Christianity in cities such as Ephesus. The natural tendency of the group to cohere both socially and in a tangible sense might also have led to the possibility that whole ‘Christian quarters’ or districts (vici) developed in the ‘larger cities’ of the Roman world. For, having outgrown the capacity of its members’ houses, it would have been logical for the Christian community to seek to establish a physical presence in the context of multi-resident, high-density housing, in which the vast major- ity were already domiciled. This would have been achieved by following the well-established practices of extant cultic, ethnic, and commercial groups, by first occupying a definable room or apartment, or possibly space above a place of trade or commerce, and gradually expanding the presence as people came and went, until a series of rooms or apartments, and ultimately an entire floor, could be acquired and dedicated to cultic use as well as domestic use, for the benefit of the association. From the outside, these would appear to the passer-by as ordinary domestic structures, attracting no unwanted or unnecessary attention to the community gathered therein. These ‘tenement churches’ provide a bridge between the ‘house churches’ (Oikos ecclesiae) of the New Testament and the first places dedicated exclusively to Christian worship (Domus ecclesiae), in this respect filling the gap in our knowledge concerning the development of the physical space in which the first generations of Christians met and conducted their rites during this crucial period of development. (p. 569)

Carolyn Osiek, “4. House Churches and the Demographics of Diversity.” Religious Studies Review. 27.3 (July 2001): 228-231.

Yet another kind of diversity needs to be considered. White carefully lays out the evidence for different kinds of structures in which worship may have taken place and then theorizes about the changes and transformations that took place in those structures. In the early years, there are indications that Christians would meet in a domus (free-standing house), a schole (rented hall), or a horreum (warehouse): we hypothesize that, since great numbers of less than affluent people lived in apartment houses (insulae), Christians also met there…

and later

Diversity of venue of the Christian gathering in Greco-Roman cities was therefore present from the start. That diversity may also have produced diversity of style and proceeding in the assembly. In the case of a meeting in someone’s household, it is difficult to imagine any other leadership structure than presidency by the kyrios or Icyria of the household, with the exception, of course, of times when a founding apostle was present. At a gathering in rented or borrowed space ordinarily used for some other purpose, the same hierarchical ordering would not be apparent, so perhaps these assemblies in less formal circumstances were characterized by a more fluid structure and a more participatory leadership…

Jim Harrison, “Paul’s house churches and the cultic association.” Reformed Theological Review. 58.1 (April 1999): 31-47.

This piece focuses on the churches in Corinth.  While churches were patronized by wealthier individual’s homes, the Corinthians (from a pagan background) would have viewed their meetings as something different: “Certain Corinthian believers may have viewed the Christian assembly as a cuitic association (or collegium) and ignored the attendant threat of divisiveness and idolatry.”

Mark Button and Fika J Van Rensburg, “The ‘House Churches’ in Corinth.” Neotestamentica 1 (2003): 1-28.

Abstract – “The generally-accepted view cf the “house churches” sees them as the building blocks, or basic cells of the church in a particular locality; further, It Is widely accepted that the “house churches” were led by patrons of relatively high status. This article seeks to re-examine the prevailing view of the “house churches”, with particular reference to the church in Corinth, in order to gain insight into their nature, composition, leadership and possible activities. The house church formula – ή κατ’ οίκον εκκλησία (Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Phlm 2) – ¡s analysed linguistically, and New Testament texts relevant to the “house churches” are examined. This evidence leads to the conclusion that the “house churches” should be seen as activities of the local church, and that the leadership of the “house churches” was vested in the gifted leaders and teachers of the local ”

Floyd Filson, “The significance of the early house churches.” JBL2 (1939): 105-112.

All of these studies are useful and necessary. However, all of them would be still more fruitful, and the New Testament church would be better understood, if more attention were paid to the actual physical conditions under which the first Christians met and lived. In particular, the importance and function of the house church [rb – not just the simple fact that they met in a house] should be carefully considered…

and later

Thus archaeology suggests the process by which the small group meeting in a private house developed into a larger body requiring more space than a private residence could offer. Such discoveries, however, do not exhaust the interest which the house churches have for the student of the New Testament.

Johannes A. Loubser, “Wealth, churches and Rome.” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa. 89 (1994): 59-69.

We can talk about house churches all day long, but as we attempt to “translate” that thinking into modern day practice, are we going to be practically able to patronize 50-100 people in the courtyard or central section of our house?

In recent studies by Theissen (1978,1982), Meeks (1983), Peterson (1985) and others, interesting information regarding the sociological aspects of these churches has come to light. They formed close-knit communities around the households of the prominent and more wealthy members. These houses could accommodate from 50 to 100 people, all belonging to the extended family. Here visiting evangelists were accommodated and regular meetings (meals, baptisms etc) were held. (p. 64).

None of what I’m sharing here is me saying that NO local churches met in homes.  To say that isn’t any more accurate than saying that EVERY local church met, and must meet, in homes.  I am only trying to foster awareness that when you hear someone say something like, “In the New Testament, churches met in homes” as if that is the standard of Restoration, that person may not have looked into the subject as much they think.

On a more positive note, I really like Roger Gehring, House Church and Mission: The Importance of Household Structures in Early Christianity. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2004.  This book is about the evangelistic benefits of a family and home-like setting of a house church community.  Having said as much, I think this same kind of close-knit group can be fostered in a purpose-built building too. (Side note: this is one of the things I really love about Ellisville where I am presently working.)

Teaching about Sexual Purity

Something happened to me last year that I was not expecting. First, let me give some background about the way I think about my role as a teacher and preacher. The Bible is a really big book, and there is a lot in it about how we are supposed to think and live inside it. I am in constant awe that God’s message can be understood by a child, and yet, every single day I learn something new about God and life that I did not already know. For this reason, I try hard to not preach the same five sermons. I want to make sure that our kids know the basics, and that we are reminded of God’s fundamental truths on a regular basis; but I also want to learn and grow beyond the first principles. I want to know the depths of what God has revealed, and I want to share what I have learned.

Now, my constant temptation is to preach about sexual purity. I could find a place in every sermon and every class to talk about this subject. Maybe the reason is because I am male, and I think about it all the time. Maybe the reason is because of the hyper-sexualized society that we live in. After all, “sex sells.” Just wait until you’re standing in the check-out aisle at the grocery store this week and you see the cover of this month’s Sports Illustrated. Surely, you have already seen previews for Fifty Shades of Grey, which was released today. Maybe the reason is because of my work with young people and the reality that this is a serious trial that every single one of them will face soon if they haven’t already; and out-of-control hormones sure don’t help us any. For whatever reason, I am tempted to talk about this subject all the time; but I suppress it.

So, I said something happened to me last year that I was not expecting. Becky and I read the New Testament with our kids in 2014. Last year, Luke was 9/10 and Lily was 7 years old. Do you know how much sexual purity is discussed in the New Testament? If you don’t have a feel for it, then I would suggest reading it with your young children because you will feel the burn every single time the words adultery, fornication and sexual immorality are spoken out loud (even in the ICB, International Children’s Bible). The super-fun part is when your 7-year-old starts to pick up on the recurring theme, and finally asks, “What is sexual immorality?”

For all of my effort to not talk about the same handful of subjects over and over again, I am reminded that God himself has not made this same effort. He talks about it A LOT! Consider some basics stats: Some form of the word porneia, which is translated “sexual immorality” in most of our Bibles (sometimes “fornication”), is found in half of the 27 New Testament books. That’s just one word! Other fun words like orgies, sensuality and adultery help us to find the theme of sexuality in ¾ of the New Testament books. Having spent just five minutes in my Bible software searching for key words, I can find this theme in every NT book except Philippians, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and 1-2-3 John. (As a side note, I think I can make a case for the theme in Philippians and Titus. Also, Paul already addressed the theme to Timothy in his first letter, so I don’t think it should count against my stats that it’s not found in the second.) The point is clear: God talks about the subject all the time. Additionally, God brought it up to almost every person or congregation that he spoke to in the New Testament.

Somebody might say (and, in fact, I have experienced this), “Sexual sin is sinful just like every other sin. We should not constantly talk about sexual sin, and should spend more time talking about things like grace, love or getting along with one another, which is often a problem in local congregations.” Every time homosexual marriage is in the news somebody writes about it, and some do-gooder Christian puts out an article along these lines: We should not focus so much on sexual sin. On January 21, 2015, Matt Walsh wrote about women wearing yoga pants. On February 5, Kelly Givens responded with an article called, “10 Things We Should Get Angry about before Yoga Pants.” True enough, the weightier matters of the law should not be overlooked; but my point above makes it clear that God doesn’t take the same approach. He talks about sexual sin over and over again to almost everybody he talks to.

I think C.S. Lewis emphasizes this same point in Mere Christianity (see Book 3, part 5 on Sexual Morality). To the argument above, we might say, “Gluttony is sinful just like sexual immorality. We should focus on every sin and not over-emphasize one or the other.” Lewis says, “Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true that most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.” Remember that C.S. Lewis wrote this in 1952 before the “sexual revolution!” I wonder what he would say if he were writing today.

Whether we are addressing homosexuality, Fifty Shades of Grey, yoga pants, the cover of Sports Illustrated or sexual purity to our young people (and older folks for that matter), it is a subject that cannot be over-done. Until the temptation is gone—a biological drive that Satan manipulates for his own purposes—our conversation about this subject should not subside. God talked about it to everyone and so should we.

Puckett Lecture

Today at noon, I’ll be presenting some of my work on the Gospel of John.  I’m providing a few pieces for your convenience if you care to have a look.

Lecture Notes – From Darkness to Light in the Gospel of John – Puckett 2015

PowerPoint – From Darkness to Light in the Gospel of John – Puckett 2015

Text From Darkness to Light in the Gospel of John – Puckett 2015

2014 Reading

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At the end of last year my blog feed filled up with everyone’s book lists for the year.  I have never tried to keep track of my reading; but it seems to be pretty common, so I thought I would try.  I got lazy and forgot a lot, but I did enjoy the practice.  I think I’m going to continue and try to be more consistent in the future.

So… (drum roll) … Here are my books from 2014.

***Recommend (this doesn’t mean I agree with the author, but that the reading is worthwhile or beneficial)

**Meh

*Don’t waste your time

Bible stuff

  • ***How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil, 2nd, D.A. Carson
  • *Evil and the Justice of God. N.T. Wright
  • **God’s Problem, Bart Ehrman
  • ***The Bible in Translation, Bruce Metzger
  • ***The Canon Debate, Ed. by McDonald and Sanders
  • ***What’s in the Word, Ben Witherington
  • *Scripture and Truth, D.A. Carson and John Woodbridge
  • **Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis
  • ***The Reason for God, Tim Keller
  • ***The Gospel of Mark (commentary), Ben Witherington
  • ***Mark (commentary), David Garland
  • ***At the Origins of Christian Worship, Larry Hurtado
  • ***The Earliest Christian Artifacts, Larry Hurtado
  • ** (good reading, but pretty heavy) Lord Jesus Christ, Larry Hurtado
  • ***The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
  • **The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis
  • **Misquoting Jesus, Bart Ehrman
  • ***Spirituality of the Psalms, Walter Breugemann (the *** only apply to chapters 2-4)

Non-Bible stuff

  • ***The Fellowship of the Ring / The Two Towers / The Return of the King (bi-annual rotation :))
  • ***The Kill Order, James Dashner (4th in series)
  • ***The Giver / Gathering Blue / Messenger / Son, Lois Lowry
  • **The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart
  • ***Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith
  • *Wizard of Earthsea, / The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin
  • ***Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
  • ***The Curious Case of Dr. Jekell and Mr. Hyde, Robert Stephenson
  • **The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
  • **100 Cupboards / Dandelion Fire / The Chestnut King, N.D. Wilson
  • (not finished yet) The City of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare (last in series)

Finally, I try to stay reasonably current on blog reading.  I just look at the titles of most entries in my Feedly, but here are some that I benefit from on a regular basis:

I don’t know how I have missed this guy, but he consistently puts out good stuff.  He earns the spot, replacing Witherington from last year, as my current favorite blogger.

Again, I don’t always agree with Witherington, but I regularly benefit from his angle of thought.

I almost always copy and paste Mounce’s post into a Logos note to consider later when I’m studying a passage.

I am less intrigued by Wallace than Mounce, but he does regularly have good info.  He is also good for Bible current events headlines.

Hurtado is great for pointing the direction – like a footnote.  He rarely writes a definitive perspective, but he always seems to point the way to something worthwhile or provide links to free resources.  Can’t beat free!

Mini Apes

Forward controls improved comfort a lot, but forward controls combined with 12″ mini apes (from 8″ stock bars) was a game changer.  It took some getting used to, and sharp turns are still more difficult; but overall, I’m pleased with the higher bars.

I am jealous of full-scale 18″ bars when I see them, but I just can’t imagine them being comfortable on longer rides.