Sermon archive

I’ve finally put the sermons that I have preached at Springfield Vineyard on this site. I’m using the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, almost exclusively because it provides a media enclosure for the audio file (so you can just click “play” instead of clicking a hyperlink or downloading the file), and I have set the date for each sermon post as the date on which it was delivered. It’s not ideal–the podcast “category” is its own separate thing, so sermons don’t show up in the Categories widget, and I had to use the podcasting widget and style it a bit–but it will do for now.

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The First Time I Read Isaiah

I met a Mormon girl at History Bowl my senior year of high school. There were three Mormons in my school, but what made this particular girl fascinating was that she actually knew something about her religion. I had always been interested in studying other religions so I’d read a fair amount about Mormonism, and the ones I knew at school were largely clueless. They spent time with their families, went to church, and did some of the social stuff, but they knew surprisingly little about their religion or its history. The girl at History Bowl was educated.

What’s more, she was also cute, and I was determined to talk with her about her faith because I found that intelligence so exciting. I asked her out for coffee, and when she said she didn’t drink it, I quickly changed my suggestion to tea or hot cocoa. We ended up making plans to go ice skating, and when I went to pick her up at her parent’s house, her dad shanghaied me and we ended up talking about religion for several hours (and eating dinner) before we could get out the door.

One of the things we discussed was the book of Isaiah, which they (as a family) had been studying for quite some time. The father of the family had a huge book that attempted to explain Isaiah, and he said it was the one book in the Bible with which he really struggled. It just didn’t make any sense to him and was really difficult to read.

I was perplexed by this. Having just read the entire Bible for the first time, I blew through Isaiah without any problems. The Holy Spirit had acted as my interpreter and educator and I hadn’t stumbled for meaning. I’ll admit a few things here: I was young, foolhardy, and prideful; I may very well have been wrong and subsequently only thought I was understanding Isaiah; my Zondervan Study Bible was a big help in this endeavor. However, my circumstances led me to believe that my teaching was from God and my understanding of the Bible was solid.

During my senior year of high school, God took me in a powerful way and compelled me to read the Bible. I sat down in our living room one night and started in Genesis, shaken and enthralled. There was nothing else I could do, nothing to which I could turn my attention. When I tried to read for class, I would be distracted after a few sentences or a paragraph and have to pick up the Bible again. I’d read for six hours at a time, sleep, and then wake up and read more. I was inspired.

In six weeks I had read the text. Isaiah had seemed no more a challenge than any of the rest of it.

Since that time, the Holy Spirit has acted as my interpreter less. For the first couple of years after I became Christian, God held my hand and led me through whatever I faced. He taught, comforted, and 100% took care of me. Around my junior year of college, though, he let go. It was time for me to stand on my own, to make my own way in the world, and to put what I had learned towards making my own decisions without influence. God wasn’t going to tell me what to do anymore–he wanted me to decide for myself based on his teachings.

I don’t expect this reading of Isaiah to be as easy as when I was in high school. However, I’ve also learned a lot since then (my degree in religious studies, only six credit hours from completion, hasn’t been an entire waste), and my in-laws just bought me a new study Bible for my birthday, so I’m feeling pretty good.

I’m not going to try and explain all of Isaiah, nor am I going to write about every verse or even every chapter. I’m just going to read and, when something jumps out at me that I want to write about, I’ll say something.

I’m still not sure where to fit the podcast into all this. Doing a dedicated podcast without writing something for those who prefer to read feels odd to me. I think what I might do, vis-a-vis podcast, is take notes throughout my reading and then once a week do a sort of review. “Here’s what the last week of my study has been like.” I’ll write about specifics and podcast about the general overview. Sound good?

Not sure it does to me, but it sounds feasible. We’ll see if it happens.

Envisioning a Recording Studio

As someone who loves to write and also really enjoys reading, book reviews seemed like a natural fit to my activities. Read a book, write a bit about it, be happy. However, as I delved into the world of book reviews, I found that I really didn’t enjoy it. I lack the ability to make such things wholly entertaining, and I have trouble conveying my feelings on books through writing. I love to talk about books, but I just don’t enjoy writing about them.

The idea to do book reviews through video crept upon me slowly, so I can’t point at a flash of insight where I finally hit upon the idea of a video book review. Nevertheless, I have begun doing them, and specifically I recorded two today. Expect to see those on Saturday for the next couple of weeks, and who knows, maybe it’ll become a regular feature here. I enjoyed doing them quite a bit, and the process was relatively painless. YouTube makes it pretty simple.

iTunes, on the other hand, has been rather frustrating when it comes to podcasting. In addition to the Online Bible Study I am writing (which is essentially where I study the Bible and then write what I’m thinking), I wanted to record a podcast on the same topic. The podcasts are on the same verses I thought and wrote about, but generally expanded with more thoughts. I can speak a lot more quickly than I write, so where I might have spent a couple of hours thinking and writing, I can record in twenty minutes and be done with it. It’s not professional by any means, but then again neither am I.

Unfortunately, the plugin I use for podcasting with WordPress has designated an RSS feed location that I simply cannot find. I wanted to burn the feed with FeedBurner so I could track how the podcasts were doing, but there’s no way to easily modify the URL in iTunes that it pulls from, and I also can’t find the XML file locally to edit. This means that I pretty much need to just pull the original feed from iTunes and set up a new one.

I sent in a request that the current SilverPen Publishing thing on iTunes be pulled, but when I tried to create a new feed on there, it kept reporting that iTunes had timed out. In looking at Apple’s forums, they’re having a lot of complaints on this issue, so I’m glad it’s not just me. At the same time, I receive no solace from knowing other people are having problems with this too. I wish it just worked.

At any rate, I did create a new podcasting feed to which you can subscribe if you are into such things. Both videos and audio podcasts will be on here (if I did it right, anyways) and you’ll see them trickle in over the next few weeks. Hopefully I’ll get things straightened out with iTunes soon and can link to that as well.

And if you’re the retroactive type, I recorded a podcast for my first OBS entry. It’s pretty rough because this was my first recording and I wasn’t entirely sure what I was saying or where I was going with it. Please be assued that the podcast going live this coming Wednesday is far superior in every way.

Now that all that’s out of the way (about four hours of work so far), I think I’m ready for a cup of coffee and maybe playing some World of Warcraft with April. Because I obviously didn’t get my fill after yesterday’s all day adventure.

Online Bible Study

With FnC drawing to an end, I’ve had a number of ideas about starting some sort of weekly event, like a Bible study and/or worship session at our house. Unfortunately, when I look at what my schedule will be like next school year as I finally wrap up my undergraduate degree and bulldoze my way through 500-levels, I can’t help but recognize that I simply won’t have the time to commit to a scheduled weekly session. Instead, I thought I would return to the format that worked so well for me several years ago and write regularly about the Bible and theological topics.

Every week from now into the foreseeable future, I will be publishing an Online Bible Study. I don’t know what the topic or set of topics will be, but I’m leaning towards starting with 1 John and working my way through that book. I want to really take my time and dwell on the text, digging into each verse and spending a lot of time with the word of God, and my weekly publication will be part analysis, part developing thoughts, and part study aid.

I know that it’ll be helpful for me and I hope that it will be helpful to you all as well, and I would be thrilled if you would join in the discussion by commenting on each study. Moreover, I’m going to try to record a podcast for the study after I finish my research and writing for those who prefer to listen on their way to work or, as I do, while exercising. If the podcast ends up being too time consuming, however, I fully reserve the right to drop it from my schedule 😛

Maybe once my schedule lightens up, I’ll be able to join a small group or something of the like, but until then, I’m excited about working on this Online Bible Study. Expect to see those published on Wednesday afternoons, with the podcast around the same time. My first podcast had a bit of a delay with iTunes, so I’m not sure if there will be lag time with that publication… I guess we’ll just have to see.

I’ll edit this post later with links to the OBS series and the podcast, so be sure to check back. Or, better yet, go ahead and subscribe to the RSS feed now 😉