Today’s blog is from my dear friend and mentor, Kip Murphy. (Bio below)
“Jesus said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matthew 13:52)
Prior to becoming a pastor, I spent twelve years as a Biochemistry Professor doing research and teaching classes. I loved teaching, watching young minds come to grips with challenging concepts and helping them to see new things. I was always learning new things in the lab, but the material in textbooks is always at least several years old.
Even though the material can be complex, I could actually understand everything that was written in the textbook we used in class. Sure, I might have to brush up on some things, or read some background material on topics that were far from my area of expertise, but with a little work there was nothing in a Biochemistry textbook that I couldn’t understand.
Not so with the Bible! I’ve been reading the Bible for many years. I’ve been through the Year of the Bible three times in various churches or on my own. I’ve read every verse multiple times. I’ve learned Greek and Hebrew (although I didn’t learn Hebrew very well). I’ve taken courses on Biblical Interpretation. And yet… every time I read God’s Word I hear something new and fresh. Sometimes it’s something I’ve read before that I see in a new light and sometimes it’s something that I’ve managed to overlook even though I’ve seen it multiple times. The reality is that there are things in the Bible that I don’t completely grasp no matter how often I read it or how much I study.
What a wonderful gift that is! Jesus reminds us that every “teacher of the law” (from the Greek word for Scribe or ‘scripture teacher’) brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old. Scripture is a storeroom filled with treasures, verses that comfort and verses that confront. Some are old and well-loved, but others will be brand new to us. Our understanding of familiar stories can undergo change as we learn new things and read them with fresh eyes.
My prayer for everyone who is participating in the Year of the Bible is that they will find both old and new things in God’s Word this year!
Biographical Information for Kenneth P. (Kip) Murphy
My wife, Lee, and I have been married for thirty-one years. We have three children. Our eldest, Kevin, lives in Des Moines, Iowa and works for Principal Financial Group there. Our second child, Katie, is a high-school English teacher in Tama, Iowa. Our youngest, Ellen, is a junior at Central College in Pella, Iowa. She is majoring in Religion and is discerning whether or not to go to seminary upon graduation.
Lee and I both grew up in Colorado and graduated together from Columbine High School. I completed a Ph.D. in Chemistry at CU, Boulder in 1990 and we moved to Baltimore, Maryland with our two older children where I had a post-doctoral position (similar to a residency) in the Biology department of Johns Hopkins University. In 1993 we moved to Iowa City, Iowa where I had obtained an Assistant Professor position in the Biochemistry department of the University of Iowa and later received tenure.
After many years of praying together with Lee, I resigned my faculty position in 2005 and began seminary at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS). Upon graduation in 2008 I accepted a call to First Presbyterian Church of Williamsburg, Iowa where I currently serve. In 2012 I began a Doctor of Ministry program at UDTS under the direction of Professor Gary Hansen, author of Kneeling with Giants: Learning to Pray with History’s Best Teachers, and Dr. Joe Small, former head of the Office of Theology and Worship for the PC(USA). My final project is focused on enhancing the ministry of Teaching Elders through the revitalization of the ministry of Ruling Elders.
Outside of work, my wife and I both enjoy reading, hiking, cooking together, and just being in one another’s company.