Pastor's Bible Study

Every Wednesday morning during the school year, Dr. Furr teaches adults on a wide variety of topics with discussion – often a book of the Bible or some aspect of the Christian life or doctrine. All you need is a Bible and an inquisitive mind! Occasionally, a particular book is ordered for everyone who wants to purchase a copy. This group meets on Wednesday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Adult Seminar Room across from the Library. Find current topics under Latest News. Please join in.


Pastor's Column


sermons from the parables

february 13, 2018


Dr. Tom Wright, the New Testament scholar, calls the parables of Jesus “open-ended stories” in his brilliant book Jesus and the Victory of God. They are also stories of the coming Kingdom. In these teachings, Wright argues, Jesus does four things: he issues an invitation, a word of welcome, words of challenge, and words of decision and calling

Last week, during my Wednesday morning Bible study, I told about two kinds of thinking that we do about things that matter. One is convergent thinking—we move toward narrowing down to a solution, a focus, to eliminate the options and to get to the core issue. Convergent thinking looks like this:

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But there is also divergent thinking. It begins from a point, and drives us out into more and more possibilities. It “opens up” something else, like a brainstorm (even though a lot of brainstorm exercises are often more like a drizzle!). Instead of narrowing down, it widens our thoughts, deepens, and inspiration belongs here. Divergent thinking looks like this:

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Both kinds of thinking are necessary for life. The parables brilliantly seem to do both—push us out into the kingdom, great thoughts, “opening up” as well as back to decision—“what must I do now that I have thought about this?” Over the season of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday communion tomorrow evening Feb. 14, we will look at and listen to Jesus speaking to us and teaching us—pushing our boundaries, but also calling us to new fixed points and hard decisions to be disciples. In the Tuesday luncheons and the Sunday worship all the way to Easter, Jesus will tell us, as my late friend John Claypool described them, “stories Jesus still tells us.” Come gather round together, as the family tells the stories of Jesus, and as he invites us to new places in our lives.                                 

One of the delightful gifts to Vickie and me in recent years is a little collection of hymn texts from our own Dr. Milburn Price based on the parables of Jesus. The idea was inspired when he wrote a hymn text for my 15th anniversary at the church (ten years ago!). What resulted was a lovely little book called Lord, May Our Hearts Be Fertile Ground: Singing a Response to the Parables. We will be actually singing some of these hymns Dr. Price wrote, in our morning worship and at the luncheons. Copies will be available if you want one, and they will help to connect us to the stories as our thinking comes back from “opening up” to “making commitment” each week. It should be a time of reflection and joy!

Wednesday, Feb. 14 (Ash Wednesday)
“To Pray and Not Give Up”  Luke 18:1-8  

Sunday, Feb. 18
“Sowing and Reaping”  Matthew 13:1-8, 13-23

Sunday, Feb. 25
“Kingdom Building”  Mark 4:30-34            

Sunday, Mar. 4
“Seeing Jesus”  Matthew 25:31-46                 

Sunday, Mar. 11
“Inheriting Eternal Life”  Luke 10:25-37          

Sunday, Mar. 18
“Who Was the Prodigal?”  Luke 15:11-32 

Sunday, Mar. 25 (Palm Sunday)
“Leaving the Ninety-Nine”  Luke 15:1-7   

Sunday, Apr. 1 (Easter)
“The Sign of Jonah”  Matthew 12:38-40     


FAMILY/BIBLE: Teaching and Learning Scripture Together in the Family

During the Wednesday night services in Lent, I will be leading a study in the Fellowship Hall for families—old, young, just beginning and been there done that. We will be learning about the practice of incorporating scripture into daily life—people of different generations will tell us about how they did /do this, as well as the struggles. And I’ll be teaching about how parents, grandparents, kids and family members can love and learn scripture together.  I hope you will join me!