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Eternity Boise

Chris Hay —  September 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

BoiseEternity Bible College is on the move! God has called us to make rigorous biblical education accessible to as many as possible and we do that many different ways, including this blog. Another means we are employing to fulfill that calling is through extension classes, and eventually extension campuses, all over the US and the world. We are in the process of launching an extension site in Boise, Idaho, and I recently had the privilege of visiting Boise.

Several months ago, after much prayer and discussion, we sent Preston Sprinkle and his family to Boise where they have settled into their new home. Preston is investing this first year to building awareness, exploring the possibilities, and seeking local church support of an extension campus in Boise. He recently set up and scheduled an information event, invited local pastors and other interested parties, and I traveled north to attend that event.

It was exciting! The attendance approached 60 people, and many shared their excitement that Eternity was coming to their city. Numerous pastors expressed support. There is already a financial investment, not to mention emotional, spiritual, and logistic support. Preston is slowly building a faculty. (NOTE: Eternity relies heavily on adjunct professors, employing pastors and others who have the academic credentials, but who are also active, current ministry practitioners.) Locations for the campus are being discussed, and many are offering advice, possibly shared-space, etc. The excitement and enthusiasm was palpable. I even met a young lady who was totally committed to being our first student next fall!

Boise Event 1Yes, classes will begin on location in Boise in Fall 2015! We will offer the full first year curriculum in 2015/16, adding each successive year’s curriculum each successive year. So as of next fall, students will have two destination campuses to choose from, Simi Valley CA or Boise ID, as well as taking our full program online.

Eternity is committed to the local church, and it is imperative to us that the churches in a specific location want our presence there. It was abundantly clear to me that the churches of the greater Boise area want us in their city. We are thankful for the opportunity, and excited about the possibilities as we continue to provide opportunities for God’s people to pursue rigorous Biblical education.

Follow the progress of the Boise Campus at the Eternity Bible College Boise Extension facebook page.

Erosion

Chris Hay —  August 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the beauty of God’s creation as it was unwrapped in some of our National Parks; how God’s creative work is just a hint, a sampling of His majesty and glory; and how all of His creation should cause us to fall on our faces in worship. These stunning, breathtaking vistas are just a drop in the vast ocean of God’s stunning beauty and breathtaking character.

Las Vegas StripOn this same trip, we took the time to drive The Strip in Las Vegas. Never been there before, and since we were driving right through Vegas anyway, we decided to check it out. Yes, it was impressive. Man certainly has been given great skill in designing and constructing impressive monuments to himself, such as the sphinx and the Eiffel Tower in miniature; of course the originals, also built by man, are even more impressive!

It was the very next day that we drove through Zion National Park, and I couldn’t help comparing God’s handiwork there with man’s handiwork in Las Vegas. Both impressive, both beautiful, both worthy of taking lots of pictures, both attract thousands of people. But I was overwhelmed with the contrasts. The Strip requires constant and expensive maintenance to keep it looking beautiful. If it were neglected for just a few years, it would deteriorate into rubble. Whereas God’s work has been sitting there just fine for millennia, arguably getting more stunning as the centuries pass. The natural massifs and vistas lifted my soul in worship to the Creator God; The Strip was a jarring reminder of man’s greed and emptiness.

Grand CanyonIt struck me that much of God’s creative beauty is from erosion. The sandstone monoliths of Capitol Reef have been scoured clean of dirt and debris, revealing their impressive beauty. The Grand Canyon and all its stark beauty exist solely because of erosion. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are the result of the caressing of the wind and water over the centuries. The wind and the rain are brushes in the Artist’s fingers; they are hammer and chisel in the Sculptor’s hands.

Those same tools, wind and rain and erosion, would desecrate man’s works. Buildings would rust, windows would break, landscaping would run wild or die from lack of water. Erosion is the enemy of man’s work; it is the agent of God’s work.

Bryce Canyon HoodoosThe parallels in the life of a Christ-follower should be clear. The winds and rains of life are what make us more beautiful and Christ-like. Erosion is God’s normal and required process to form beauty and character in us. We can desperately fight to keep ourselves ‘maintained’ and looking good as we stroll down the road of life, or we can accept and even embrace God’s erosion of ourselves to make us a stunning reflection of Him.

If we try living with Self as our god, the tools of erosion will only make us more bitter, filled with rust and deterioration that oozes onto those around us. And that makes us ugly. So we need to allow the erosion of life to make us more beautiful, more stunning. We can’t let it deteriorate our spirit and make us ugly. I would much rather be a National Park than the Vegas Strip.

Beautiful Places

Chris Hay —  July 23, 2014 — 1 Comment

Every time I visit a beautiful place, I find myself overwhelmed with a deep hunger, a desperate longing, to grasp more of it. I remember many years ago driving the Icefields Parkway in Canada and I was an emotional wreck for three days. It was stunning beyond belief, and as much as I tried to drink it all in, I was left panting with thirst. I lived in Alaska for many years, and it was the same thing. I tried to absorb it all, but was left wanting.

This has all been resurrected in my soul as my wife and I have just driven from Southern California to Denver for a conference. We took the opportunity to visit some of our National Parks and enjoy the creative work of our great God, including Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, and Capitol Reef NP. We also drove Utah Hwy 12, one of America’s top scenic drives. Quite simply, we have seen some of the most stunning scenery in the world (my current opinion—I certainly haven’t seen all the scenery in the world!).

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

We processed this soul longing as we wound our way through Zion Canyon. God created all this beauty initially for His own good pleasure, and now He allows His created beings to enjoy it. These parks, and this scenery, are massive; stunning; breathtaking; immense. Kind of like God. The realization grew as we drove and talked that this hunger I experience, this desire to almost become one with the stupendous vistas unfolding before us, can only be satisfied by God Himself. He gives us these gorgeous places to draw our emotions toward Him. These places create that want for more because we do want more. And no created thing, no mountain, no canyon, no majestic vista, can begin to compare with His glory and His beauty.

When we stare up at the massive sandstone formations in Capitol Reef, or gaze on the intricate formations that defy description in Bryce Canyon, we need to be drawn toward God Himself. As massive and beautiful as those formations are, they pale compared to the immensity of the Creator who made them. This earthly beauty, designed by God for His pleasure and our enjoyment, is simply an arrow that points toward Him. If I am left panting as I gaze on such earthly beauty, what should my response be as I meditate on the dazzling radiance of God? Ask Ezekiel or Isaiah. After glimpsing the radiance of God’s glory, Ezekiel fell on his face (Ezek 1:26-28). When Isaiah saw the throne room of heaven, he assumed he was a dead man (Isa 6:1-7).

I imagine those responses were not unlike the feelings evoked in us when we are privileged to see the breathtaking vistas of Yosemite, or the towering Rocky Mountains, or the wild rugged beauty of Alaska. Only more so exponentially. God knows that to truly gaze on His glory is only permitted to a select few; I’m sure because we simply couldn’t handle it. So He gives us the ethereal hoodoos in Bryce Canyon and the massive sandstone monoliths of Capitol Reef to take our breath away, and try to fathom how infinitely great is our God.

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon

We are all surrounded by beauty, even if it’s not the grandeur of the Western U.S. We have lived many places, and have found beauty in each of those places. From watching the sunset over the cornfields of the Midwest, to watching lines of ants marching off to who-knows-where, God has designed His glorious world for us to catch a glimpse of Him. So my thought is this: every time I look upon His creation, whether tiny or massive, simple or bizarre, ordinary or unique, I need to see it as an expression of His character. I need to realize that the longing inside for more of that stunning vista is simply a longing for more of our glorious God and Savior and Creator Jesus. He gave us these places, this earth, and the beauty around us. That is why it is beneficial to go to places like Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, and Capitol Reef NP. So get out your map, plan a trip, and go worship our supremely huge God.

“The mountains rose, the valleys sank down, to the place that you appointed for them.” Ps 104:8

If you have read the Bible much, you know there is a lot of talk about this day called ‘Sabbath.’ Jesus talks about it, and even used the Sabbath to antagonize the Pharisees and expose their hypocrisy. Israel was supposed to keep a Sabbath day, and even a Sabbath year. One of the reasons they went into captivity was because they grossly neglected the Sabbath.

Ten CommandmentsWhat should be most unsettling for those of us who claim to obey the Bible is the fact that the Sabbath shows up in the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. Yes, one of the Big Ten is that we are to take one day a week to rest and not do work. It is right there in the same list with not committing murder or adultery. Now that is unnerving, or at least it should be.

Are you telling me that taking a day off every week carries the same moral weight as sexual purity in marriage? And the same moral weight as plotting and carrying out a murder? It would appear that yes, it does. In fact, if amount of ink is any indication, then this Sabbath command might be more important (if that is possible) since it gets more ink than any of the others. Take another look at Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. God doesn’t just say, “Remember the Sabbath” and let it go at that. He goes into a great deal of detail. Seems this is a pretty important command, a pretty important moral issue.

So why is Sabbath so important? How can a day off work even begin to compare to the other commandments? Let me throw out a few thoughts. Remember that the Decalogue was given to an agricultural society, a work cycle not many of us live any more. In the spring, the fields needed to be plowed. Seed needed to be sown. Weeds needed to be killed. In the fall, when the crop was ripe, the harvest needed to come in fast before rain or wind or hail destroyed an entire year’s income. There was a lot of pressure to get each season’s work done as fast as possible. The idea of taking off one full day each week was completely counterintuitive.

Taking a Sabbath day, in obedience to God’s command, was really an act of trust. It was a living statement that God was actually in control of my crops and my income. It was an acknowledgement that God is sovereign over the winds and rain and He is the one who makes things grow, not me. Sabbath is only partly about a day of rest; it is also a deterrent against idolatry, against self-sufficiency, against thinking I am in control of my destiny. It is even a means of socio-economic balance, not allowing a workaholic to get further ahead financially because he or she works 7 days a week.

We live today in a mostly post-agricultural society. Oh, there are still a lot of farmers out there, and I have the highest respect and appreciation for what they do. It is a lifestyle I would have loved to live had my life gone differently. But how does the Sabbath apply to the office worker? the construction worker? the housewife? the firefighter? the doctor or nurse? and so on? It is still an act of trust and a deterrent against idolatry. Taking a day off each week is still a strong statement that God is in control, not me.

Few would disagree that we as a 21st century people are way too busy. Many would even agree that this busyness is a sin. What better way to counter-act that busyness than by taking one day each week, and resting. No shopping, no errands, no work, no busyness. But simply resting. Being still. Worshipping. Lingering long over the Word, over dinner, over a sunset.

I suggest to you that our busyness is idolatry. It is an act of thinking we are so important that we can’t stop or our world will collapse. The kids will miss soccer practice. The profitable stock deal will get away. I will miss a text message. The car won’t get washed. Do we really think we are such a big deal that the world will fall apart if I shut down for a day? Sabbath is acknowledging the fact that God is God, and I am not; He is in control, and has it all covered.

Of course for most of us, taking a Sabbath day each week means something in our lives needs to go. So what are you going to eliminate from your life so you can obey the Fourth Commandment? Or will you continue to flaunt your self-sufficient, I-can-do-it-all lifestyle in the face of God? Let me suggest, quite strongly, that refusing to obey the 4th commandment, refusing to take a Sabbath day each week, is idolatry. And that is a violation of the First Commandment! Wow, double whammy. Take stock, reflect, slow down, eliminate something. Be still, and know that He is God, and you are not.

No Guns on Sunday

Chris Hay —  July 9, 2014 — Leave a comment

I grew up in the 60s, just a few decades removed from World War II. I had two older brothers and a younger sister, and we played with guns. Toy guns. We played army, war games, in an eight-year old kind of way. We also played the very unpolitically correct cowboys and Indians. After all, TV in those days was Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. Our guns were sticks, and as time went on, we moved up the socio-economic ladder and had “real” plastic guns; green guns with stickers that made rat-a-tat noises; and no gaudy orange safety barrels.

The Lone Ranger

Now of course this was pre-Columbine and pre-Sandy Hook. Guns did not have the horrific social stigma that they have today in this terrorist, mass-shooting era. So this was our world of boyhood in the 60s. We glamorized war and cut our teeth on toy guns.

But our parents, far wiser to the way things really were in the Viet Nam era, recognized that guns and war were not so glamorous. And so we had a household rule, a Sabbath rule if you will, “no guns on Sunday.” We could play guns and war and cowboys and Indians six days a week; but on Sunday, the guns had to be put away. Why? It was the Sabbath, a different kind of day, a unique day, a holy day.

My parents understood that at some level, Sunday was different. It was the modern variation of the Sabbath, and it was to be kept holy.

Dad staunchly refused to take a Sunday paper. Our newspaper in those days came in the late afternoon, and the Sunday paper came in the morning. But he was adamant that nothing would distract from our preparing to go to church. It was bad enough trying to find matching shoes and ensuring our hair stayed combed. No way would there be those colorful comic pages laying around, sucking us in to reading Peanuts and Dick Tracy. This day was different; it was holy. No guns, no newspaper.

In Scripture, holy means “set apart” or “unique.” Different. So when God says “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” He means “make it different.” Whatever this Sabbath is, it is clearly supposed to be different than the other six days. That is why mom and dad wouldn’t let us play with guns on Sunday; we did different things on this day. We went to church, we took naps, we played differently.

I would argue that God gave us Sabbath as a universal, timeless principle. One day out of each week is to be set aside as different, unique. We do different things, we play differently, we don’t work. He instituted it at creation. He set it in stone at Mt Sinai as the fourth commandment, which means it is in the same list with the same weight as “do not murder” and “do not commit adultery.” It was not just for Israel, it is for us all today. One day, each week, different.

So how are we doing with this? Do you set aside one day each week on which you rest, do no work, take time to see God in new fresh ways? God commands us to do just that. We need it. Our bodies need it. Our souls need it.

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you” (Deut. 5:12, ESV)

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