A Thousand Thanks! I appreciate your great interest in this newsletter--it is beyond all my expectations. (This newsletter is distributed primarily by email, but I do snail mail a few copies to those who request it). I am also amazed at the continued heavy traffic to my web site. (About 16,000 hits and 350 Mb per day) New postings on my web pages are found at the top of my "main library" page, http://ldolphin.org/asstbib.shtml. Barry Setterfield's latest paper outlining his new cosmology is newly posted and will, I know, be of keen interest to scientifically minded readers. (See http://setterfield.org/). Barry proposes a static (non-expanding) universe which was stretched out to its present fixed diameter on Day Two of creation week. My friend Derek Miller has added to my web site the scientific reports from the work my colleagues and I from SRI International did in Egypt back in the '70s. Even after a quarter of a century there is lots of interest in our early work in scientific methods applied to archaeology. But no, I do not see a connection with Mars and UFOs or the Hall of Records from Atlantis. Derek has also helpfully weeded and updated my long lists of web links (http://ldolphin.org/URLres.shtml). Derek is the son of my friend Glenn Miller of THE best Biblical apologetics website, the CTT, http://www.christian-thinktank.com/
Teaching: Saturday mornings a wonderful group of students drop over to my house for an informal Bible study. Currently we are covering Solomon's Ecclesiastes. Wednesday Night is a highpoint of my week as the ten men of The Wednesday Brothers of Thunder gather for "leaderless" Bible study and prayer. Currently our Lord is teaching us from John's gospel--by means of His Holy Spirit who directs our time together. Wonderful intimacy and "body-life" develops when a group such as ours meets together weekly, year after year, under the Lordship and direction of Jesus Christ.
During the summer I taught the Book of the Revelation at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto as a Monday evening Discovery Seminar. Fifty-five eager and enthusiastic students attended--though it is difficult for many people to come to an evening Bible class after a long day at the office and a commute down the crowded freeway.
This Fall I pushed my luck by undertaking to teach a "Harmony of the Gospels" class--same night same location. Attendance this time around started at nine persons and has since dropped to only six. Some blamed Monday night football, but my students agree with me that most of us do not really want to get too close to the Lord Jesus after all. He is too scary, too unpredictable. He polarizes society everywhere He goes and He upsets to the point of murder all sorts of merely-religious people. The fact that His compassion, gentleness and tender mercy shines through DOES help us to desire to draw nearer. But in our class discussions we have all been made aware that our preference for the epistles may well be due to our wanting a safer and less dangerous God--someone who won't meddle with the interior of our lives if possible. Incidentally, a "Harmony" of the Gospels is a way of laying the texts of the four gospels alongside one another more or less in chronological order so as to follow the life of the Lord Jesus Christ from beginning to end. It is not easy to do this accurately, since each of the gospels was not intended as a chronology but for the purpose of revealing a different aspect of the life and Person of our Lord. As far as I am concerned this Bible study in the Gospels has been moving me deeply in surprising ways. For instance, in the gospels Jesus is intent on relationships--not merely in fixing external symptoms in people's lives. He says what he means and means what He says. I tape my classes by the way--so I won't have to teach them over again hopefully, and they are in RealAudio on my web page for the brave and foolhardy, http://ldolphin.org/audio.html. While on the subject of the life of our Lord Jesus here is a favorite quote from Dorothy Sayers:
"The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore--on the contrary; they thought him too dynamic to be safe...He was tender to the unfortunate, patient with honest inquirers, and humble before Heaven; but He insulted respectable clergymen by calling them hypocrites; He referred to King Herod as "that fox"; He went to parties in disreputable company and was looked upon as a "gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners"; He assaulted indignant tradesmen and threw them and their belongings out of the Temple; He drove a coach-and-horses through a number of sacrosanct and hoary regulations;
He cured diseases by any means that came handy, with a shocking casualness in the matter of other people's pigs and property; He showed no proper deference for wealth and social position; when confronted with neat dialectical traps, He displayed a paradoxical humour that affronted serious-minded people, and He retorted by asking disagreeably searching questions that could not be answered by rule of thumb.
He was emphatically not a dull man in His human lifetime, and if He was God, there can be nothing dull about God either. But He had "a daily beauty in His life that made us ugly," and officialdom felt that the established order of things would be more secure without Him. So they did away with God in the name of peace and quietness." (Creed or Chaos)
My mentor, the late Ray C. Stedman has many helpful resources on the gospels on his web pages, http://raystedman.org/ and of course on the rest of the Bible as well. Do visit his web site if you haven't already.
On Bearing Fruit: In the past year I have become more and more aware that faith without works is truly dead. Mere profession of faith saves no one unless the fruit of the Spirit follows--unless Jesus Christ takes up His residence in our hearts and begins to live His life through us. One of the parables of Jesus illustrates this whole matter wonderfully: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?' And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'" (Luke 13:6-9)
Y2K: Friends ask me almost every day what I expect to happen at midnight on December 31st. I don't know. However I have kept in touch with half a dozen reputable Y2K newsletters and analysts and my personal feeling is that there could well be some significant disruptions in power, communications, and in long-time economic problems--especially with foreign countries who have done too little too late to be prepared. I would suggest reasonable preparedness such as extra food and water, some cash on hand, extra blankets and flashlights. Print out bank statements and make hard-copies of documents that could be lost or inaccessible if computers were temporarily unavailable. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we are repeatedly warned by the USGS to be ready for major earthquake anytime in the next 20 years. So it is wise to have some food and water on hand in any case. Anything left over can be put to good use next year in relief to the poor and to neighbors in need. I, for one, do not plan to travel between Christmas and New Years.
Israel Trip in 2000! A group of friends has urged Glenn Miller and I to host a trip to Israel and Petra. We are now actively planning such a trip, God willing, and as soon as flyers are available I'll notify this mailing list and those of you interested can consider joining us. Tentative departure is October 21, 2000, for 12-14 days maximum. By the way, two weeks in Israel is educationally the equivalent of at least a year at most any secular college, and doesn't cost as much either.
EMAIL Team: I answer as much email as I can. I believe those of us who serve God in a teaching capacity should be available and accessible as much as possible--not insulated behind several layers of secretaries or a big organizational facade. But when my email does overflow, I divert some of it to a splendid group of co-workers in The Paraclete Forum. You can read about the history of our team's experiences in Cyberspace ministry at http://ldolphin.org/cspace.html and post your questions to our Bulletin Board at any time: http://paracleteforum.org. We answer by email and/or bulletin board postings as appropriate.
Archive for these newsletters: http://ldolphin.org/news/