Friday, August 29, 2008

Colossians 1:15-20 Exposition

From the text: Christ is supreme, not just prominent, but pre-eminent. Why? Three reasons:

a. Because of His relationship to God- v. 15
b. Because of his relation to creation- in Him, through Him, for Him- v. 16-17
c. Because of His relationship to the Church and New Creation- v. 18-20

From Wikipedia: The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History is a 1978 book by Michael H. Hart. It is a ranking of the 100 people who most influenced human history. Since publication the book has been hotly debated and its concept widely copied. His criterion was influence.

The book was reprinted in 1992 and again in 2000 with several notable revisions made to the original list of 100 people and their associated rankings. Chief among these revisions was the demotion of figures associated with Communism, such as Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, and the introduction of Mikhail Gorbachev. Hart took sides in the Shakespearean authorship issue and substituted Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford for William Shakespeare. Hart also substituted Niels Bohr and Henri Becquerel with Ernest Rutherford, thus correcting an error in the first edition. Henry Ford was also promoted from the "Honorary Mentions" list, replacing Pablo Picasso. Finally, some of the rankings were re-ordered, although no one listed in the top ten changed position.

What mainly surprised readers was the first person on Hart's list. Hart decided to choose Muhammad over Jesus or Moses despite the fact that Islam was not the largest religion and that it was from a distant part of the world from where he lived. Hart attributes this to the fact that Muhammad was successful in both the religious and political realms. He also writes that Muhammad's role in the development of Islam is far more influential than Jesus's collaboration in the development of Christianity. He attributes the development of Christianity to St. Paul (ranked 6th) , who played a pivotal role in the spreading Christianity.

In fact, Jesus ranks third behind Isaac Newton. He didn’t talk about why Jesus was third, but why wasn’t he first? He used reasons that seemed good to him. But there is a principle here- there is a difference between reasons that sound good and good sound reasons. He observed that Jesus had no real influence on the politics of His time, perhaps for the first century. His geographic sphere of influence was small, and he hadn’t touched many individuals. He had been an ethical teacher with an influential personality. He held that parts of his teacheing others had given and were not original to him, but the original parts were the parts people didn’t follow anyway; people didn’t practice them.

Hart, Michael H. The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Revised and Updated for the Nineties. New York: Carol Publishing Group/Citadel Press; first published in 1978, reprinted with minor revisions 1992. ISBN 9780806510682

Who Jesus is makes all the difference in the world. The most significant thing anyone can ask is “Who is this Jesus?” This passage reminds us that He is Supreme…and THAT influences how we live our lives. This is a great affirmation- By Him, For Him, To Him Through Him. Paul writes at about the same passage of time away from the event as we are from the length of time we’ve been married- thirty years Why did they say such amazing things about Christ? Wherever they were in the world they had taught and sung these words- it is possible it is more than a poem, but an early hymn. What caused them to be convinced that He is supreme? Others admitted that Christ was important, but Paul declares that He is more than important- it is critical. He is supreme, not just prominent but pre-eminent. Why?

Paul gives us three reasons from this passage which are profoundly important.

1. Verse 15- Jesus is preeminent because of His relation to God.
He is the image of the invisible God. The work image (eikon) points us in several directions. The word has come from the stamp and die industry where a precise likeness is created.the impression or stamp of God. Humans are said to be “in the image of God”

Verse 19 clarifies- all the fullness- the nature. Col 2:9 declares “ all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” Christ IS the image- not just divine- He is God-ness. Paul reminds us that Jesus is all god is. He is in fact God. He is not AMONG the created- He not only shares god’s nature, he reveals God’s person. An image is a visual representation. The David by Michaelangelo impresses us, but it does not surprise us- it reveals familiar territory. We’ve seen it already, we know what the human figure looks like. In a similar way, Paul says Jesus is eternally god. In the incarnation the One and only, fully declared SON- Jesus was asked “show us the Father” and he responded- “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” The Bible says that if we want to know God or OF God, look to Jesus. He shares God’s nature, reveals God’s person. The image is the only way I can know what God is like. Christ is One with God.

Now Paul tells us more. If you love created things- I don’t know of any more relevant and significant passage to the scientific mind.

2. v. 16 Jesus is preeminent because of His relation to CREATION:
His position- he is the firstborn of all creation. This can be a confusing statement, so let’s unpack it. How can Christ be “born” AND God? The next verse gives us a clue: It says EVERYTHING came into being BY Him. There is not a thing apart from Him. So we have a language problem.

Sir Christopher Rand created St. Paul’s Cathedral and then called in Queen Ann to show off his work to her. They made a tour and the Queen remarked: It is awful, it is amusing, and it is artificial.” And Sir Christopher replied “Thank you, your Majesty.” You might ask “why?”

Back in those days awful meant awe inspiring. Artificial meant artistic. Amusing meant delightful, or bringing pleasure. Words change meaning over time. Here the word FIRSTBORN refers to the heir of everything, the owner, possessor, the preeminent, the most important. In Psalms Israel is called the firstborn nation, and it was certainly not the first one born. It denotes headship. Mannesseh and Ephraim were sons of David and in Jeremiah 31: 9 God declares that Ephraim was his firstborn. In Psalm 89:27, God says he will appoint a firstborn-David and his royal line-as the most exalted of the kings of the earth.

In 1880, the Dutch statesman-theologian Abraham Kuyper issued a bold proclamation that spoke to the growing fragmentation of society and social roles in his own day—and in ours: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry “Mine!”

He is Lord of Creation but He is more than that. Verse 16 is a marvelous verse. Paul used three prepositions to describe the Lord’s relationship to creation. Don’t miss the nuances here as they are not clear in the NIV. Use the NASB- for IN Him all things, THROUGH or BY , and FOR Him. In through and for- think of building a house. You begin to think, to dream and design a plan. Before it comes into being it has to be originated in your mind. In you is the plan in terms of design. Paul says it all took place in the omniscient mind of the Son of God. He is the Master Designer who stamped his design on every corner of the Cosmos. Jesus is all of that- all things came into being not by happenstance but by intelligent design- and this same Creator holds the universe together.

Science will tell you there are two things- gravity and intermolecular forces that form the cosmic glue that keeps everything from spinning off into oblivion. More specifically superstrings and cosmic strings are what the astrophysicists tell us, (not Duct Tape). Then it was the “phantom particle”- cold dark matter or LSP’s –“lightest supersymmetric partners.” Fermions, such as electrons and quarks are the bricks or fundamental building blocks of matter. The mortar particle is called a boson.

“The basic idea of supersymmetry is that every boson has a fermion 'superpartner' and vice versa,"(astrophysicist Gordon ) Kane said. Most superpartners are heavy with a mass roughly equivalent to the recently discovered top quark. Like the top quark, they exist only for the tiniest fraction of a second before they decay, leaving no physical sign of their existence. This makes them difficult to detect in particle accelerators.”

I remember hearing Ken Poure speak nearly 40 years ago- The director emeritus of Hume Lake Christian Camps, he is known for his unique blend of wisdom, practical knowledge, and side-splitting humor. He said that scientists were seeking to know what holds the universe together and the answer was WOG. WOG is the Word of God.
He is the glue of the universe. He is that next heartbeat, the next bat of an eye- Acts 17:28 is my life verse- “In Him we live and move and have our being,” said Paul to the Aeropagus Eggheads.

The fact that all things do not fly apart is not because of random laws of nature. But because of the power of Jesus Christ. He is the cohesive force. Remember the author who put Newton in front to Jesus in ranking them? The Newtonian theories, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle of quantum physics are fine, but beneath them all is the sovereign power of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Notice in the next section:

3. Jesus is preeminent because of His relationship to the Church.
He is the head of the body. He determines the body. Men build institutions, but God grows things. He gives life. In a physical life there is no life apart from the connection to the head. Any part of the body that is separated from this connection withers and dies. The only ones in the body are the ones joined to Christ. It is a living bond. All the physical head is to the body, Jesus is to the Church. He is the resource, the leader, and controller. H is the one who gives life in verse 18. He conquers death. He is the beginning, the founder of the new humanity , new creation. In what way? First, he conquered death, so he is the first over death. He is the firstborn of all those who will share in this victory. He said “I am the resurrection and the life. When someone who s in Christ dies, it is certain that they go immediately to be in the presence of the Lord. The firstborn of the dead is the only way we can HOPE in the face of death. He is Risen.

VV. 19-20. Paul reminds us that He also brings together fallen, sinful, alienated man and God the Father. Understand this: Jesus ‘ sufficiency to meet our needs is totally related to His supremacy. A Jesus less than God is a bridge broken at the far end. If He is anything less than Lord god of All and I am hopeless. He Lived all that God is. V. 19: Fullness- “dwell in”- there are two words in Greek. One means a temporary visit this one means a permanent residence. This is that word.

There has been a disruption. The universe is in rebellion against its creator. Sin separated man from God who brought everything into being. Sin brought alienation and hostility, and destroyed what god created. Verse 20- God worked through Jesus to reconcile all things to himself. The glorious Creator made reconciliation through His blood shed on the cross (cf verse 14). This is an amazing statement here. He bled and died, he who spoke the tree into being hung on it to bring forgiveness of sins so I can know peace with the Living God!

Paul wants us to understand that Jesus is supreme: Supreme for what He has done in the original and again in the new creation. He is supreme and sufficieint- he is the answer to sin and death, the answer to any issue in your life. Jesus is Lord!

During coronations, the Archbishop of Canterbury turns to each corner of the Cathedral and asks, “Will you pay )Him or Her) homage? When the answer comes, and not until it comes “We will”, then he places the crown on the head of the Monarch. The Father placed the crown on the head of the Lord Jesus. Will you pay Him homage? For some, you need to trust Him, acknowledge His work nd bow at his feet. For others, those who have trusted Him, give Him the preeminence. Yield to His throne of Grace-and exalt Him to the place that is Rightfully his in your life.

Fast Food Backlash--

Slow Food?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Links regarding news in educational technology...

Sun Microsystems demo’s open source Virtual World platform for the education community- created by Boston College and the University of Oregon et al.

Research and Markets: In Depth Analysis of e-Learning- critical reflection on current state of e-Learning market.

A move toward synchronous e-Learning

Colleges mine pre-college market- Wall Street Journal

Webconferencing software news

in Higher Ed

Blackboard’s new social network software

Gas prices driving students to online-here is a representative article from the Chronicle

Using RSS feeds to disseminate course information

Screencasts as scaffolding

Open textbook movement-good or bad?

Copyright fight over college textbooks

Google unveils online reference tool

Blackboard/Sakai integration on the way, Moodle on Deck

Changing Designs of Online Learning

Unknown woman

Going through my collection of photos- Here is RST, a photo taken around 1883-4, and associated with my Smith lineage. I like the hat. The big crucifix may indicate she is Catholic, but that does not fit with that side of the family...who knows??? It may be Reveille Smith but I dunno what the T stands for.

The Story Glory Tells

This flowed out of a series i taught for the Expositors' Class at Highview this summer...

We need the peace of Jesus Christ
The only shalom that has sufficed
We need to let it rule and reign
In hearts filled with doubt and pain

In our circumstances we find fear
But God in heaven draws us near
And the peace of Christ o’erflows
Overwhelms and holds us close

When the accuser accuses
And this life abuses
In this Peace I am called just
For righteousness redeems this dust

Each small victory prepares us
By each failure we’re undone
For our strength is found outside us
By His power the battle is won

As we stand within the glory
Of the hope that in us dwells
Christ in Us shall tell the story
We’re the stories glory tells

On each battlefield yet to come
In each defeat of the past
By His power His will is done
As before the throne we cast
Every circumstance from first to last…

As we stand within the glory
Of the hope that in us dwells
Christ in Us shall tell the story
We’re the stories glory tells…

Anthony Foster
Colossians 2-3
August 19, 2008

Dog Days for Blogging

I haven't posted much here lately, and for good reason... After spending a week catching up from my summer Doctoral residencey requirement, I was off to the MERLOT International Conference to conduct a workshop on Multiple Intelligences- it may sound like old hat stuff, but I focussed on writing assignments that incorporate such concerns. Met a lot of people, talked in Learning Objectese, and presented as part of a panel discussion late in the conference. Post conference has been spent in catching up...


I’ll cast my life into the river and I will rest within its flow
For my pardon and my cleansing- I pray Thee Lord, make it so
I’ll flee from the flood of this world and instead
I’ll rest my head in the river’s bed
I’ll live day by day in its holy undertow
And with the river I’ll learn to flow.

Place my hard heart into the river’s stream
Like a diamond that you polished I would gleam
And Lord your currents will- cover me until
All I know is you alone
As you turn this stony heart into a polished stone

So take me down into the river and wash away my sin
For my pardon and my cleansing you complete what you begin
As I become a stone of grace polished by the currents of your love
You make me a rock you’ll build your Kingdom of
On earth just as in heaven up above.

Anthony Foster
August 19, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

Recent Research findings having potential ramifications for Learning Solutions

• Characteristics of Adult Learners With Implications for Online Learning Design - Cercone, K., AACE Journal

• Envisioning the Educational Possibilities of User-Created Virtual Worlds-

• A New Pathway for E-Learning: From Distribution to Collaboration and Competence in E-Learning

• “Mode-Neutral” pedagogy

• Strategies for assessment and potential rubrics for grading online interaction-

• 7 things you should know about... Multi-Touch Interfaces - EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative

• Short and Sweet: Technology Shrinks the Lecture

• Personal Learning Environments

• Google earth now viewable inside web browsers:Google says it wants to open up the core of Google Earth to developers so they can create the next great 3-D geo application.

• Future Online Learning Landscapes: Transforming Pedagogy through Social Software -Innovate –Journal of Online Education

• How Microsoft uses scenario planning to explore the future of education- White Paper

• Another Microsoft white paper- E-Portfolios