I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." - Isaiah 48:10
Why does he have to try us? Why through affliction? So often my prayers are "Lord make me humble, but please be nice," or "God I want to understand thanksgiving, but not by having things taken away from me," or "I want to be a man more in love with you, but I fear how you'll bring me there."
There is almost this slight mistrust on my part because I fear of how the Lord will do it. I fear His trial by fire. Trial by affliction.
But he does it for his sake:
"For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another." - Isaiah 48:11
Because we take His glory. As you know, I'm about to get on an airplane... in about 18 hours (or so). I'm stressed out. But I also know that if everything went well and I felt in control through the whole trip, then I would look back and say "I did pretty good. I brought us all the way here."
I almost think the Lord brings me adversity in traveling because it is the one thing of which I am unable to relinquish control. I want to trust God with it, but I don't. I want to bring the Lord glory.
So when I get there. I'll try to post something, and thank the Lord for how he brought me safely where I'm going.
That said, I may post once more tonight (I may not), but then I might not have internet access for several days, so if I'm out - well... sorry. But I'll be back.
Life has to return to some normalcy which has been gone for some time. So goodbye for now. I'll see you again shortly.
I'm supposed to make up a post you might write... then you're tagged and must do the same to 5 other folk.
New Leaven (TC) - I discovered that Bible is a masculine word and will now refer it only as the neuter - "The Word of God" (much like the TNIV chose to do in their translation of "The Word of God")
Scripture Zealot (Jeff) - John 3:16 in the New Revised Todays Updated English American Version (NRTUEAV) says, "God loves us eh? Died for us yo! If we believe in him, we live like... forever"
Sunestauromai (Brian) - How to read a person like a book. (And judge them by their cover).
Crypto-Theology (Matthew) - 1 Corinthians was actually written by the hand of God, not inspired through Paul as many have conjectured.
And just because I really want to, I'm tagging Chuck back.
A ‘Goula Blogger (Chuck) - Antique Bible Commentary notes on the wizard of OZ:
Matthew Henry - If I only had a brain
(BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH)
Adam Clarke - I wish I was brave and not ascardy
(BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH)
A.T. Robertson - Someday I'll have a heart too you know!
(BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH)
Anyhow, he told me had had written this article on the 10th anniversary of John Wimber's death. Since I grew up in the Vineyard Church I found this particularly interesting. Also, I thought it curious that he told me he received a ton of angry emails after posting on Wimber...
Here is an excerpt:
John [Wimber] will be remembered for many things, one of which was his unrelenting commitment to “doin’ the stuff,” as he often put it. As John told the story, he and Carol visited a church early in his spiritual journey, immediately after he had spent considerable time reading the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. Following the service, John approached the pastor and asked him:
“So, when do we do the stuff?”
“The ‘stuff’,” said the pastor. “What’s the ‘stuff’?”
“You know,” John replied, “the stuff in the Bible, like healing the sick and casting out demons. The stuff!”
“Oh,” replied the pastor. “We don’t do the stuff. We believe they did it back in biblical days, but we don’t do it today.”
With a rather confused look on his face, John could only say: “And I gave up drugs for this?”
And the full article can be found here.
The law of Moses was useful for a temporary covering of sins. It was not sufficient to cover all our sins. It also pointed us to Jesus among other things.
But think of all the many things it could not do.
By Jesus we are freed from EVERYTHING which we could not be freed by the Law of Moses. The things I think of are:
Fear, lack of hope, sadness, death, pain, eating restrictions, and my future sins.
And that's just a start, I'm sure I could come up with many other things if I spent even another minute. If I haven't mentioned it yet, I'm coming up on the end of a several month furlough. Time to head back home and to work on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately for me I absolutely fear flying. I abhor it. I read this verse last night and was comforted again relating to my anxiety and flying.
I know the Lord has been speaking to me lately through scripture about my fears. If you think of it, I'll take all the prayers you can stand to send my way Monday night and allllll day Tuesday and Wednesday... I try to remind myself that one way or another I'll get there.
So far I've learned, that by Jesus I can be freed from my fear. I've also learned thanksgiving is the key to my fears. I'm working on it.
God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high...
In high school I loved Hebrews because it helped me defend the Trinity. But I never noticed this shocking fact: that of all the ways God could possibly speak, he spoke finally by Jesus and that of all the things we think we could know of God by any other means, Jesus is the very image of God's substance or essence. So, it is easy for me to start with some ideas about God and then be very confused that God became a man, which is a good thing, to be confused about God's power, but it is far better to look to Jesus to see who God is. The Christian answer to the person who wants to know about God must center on the person of Christ.
So the book of Hebrews floors me because everything Jesus is reveals who God has always been: the one made like his brothers and the one who made purification for sins. [read: died for sinners] If you want to know what God is like, the author of Hebrews says, "look to Jesus." Also, this author says, for those of us who might lose hope that God really is like this:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
and a brother is born for adversity."
- Proverbs 17:17
When I was in High School my best friend stopped hanging out with me one day. This was odd because before then we were literally attached at the hip, and had done everything together night and day. Finally I got frustrated and called him and asked him what was going on. He explained to me that he didn't like me—that no one liked me, I was a terrible person.
I know what you're thinking and yes, this is the kind of thing that happens to girls not guys. But that's not the point of my story. The point is, a couple of months later I met another guy who had recently had a similar experience with his good friend.
Because of a sort of shared experience we became best friends quickly, knowing that we would never do the same to one another. This would fall more under the "born of adversity" than born "for".
But later this friend proved to be a serious friend. Hard experience after hard experience he stood by me and proved to be, "a brother born for adversity."
I truly think it is a unique thing from the Lord when someone supernaturally stands by you. I'm reminded of another friend of mine. When I was a freshman in college I was an outspoken Christian and devastated that I had woken up one morning naked in a hospital. I had gotten drunk one night and had to have my stomach pumped. I had ruined my witness (or at least a big part of it).
This friend looked in my eye and told me, "This is not who you are, this is a mistake you made. Now quit sitting around and go make it right. Put it behind you."
That is a friend. A friend born for adversity. A friend who loved me at my lowest and help me put it behind me, and gain back the witness I had lost in that situation.
Praise God that I have friends like that.
As I sat and worked, I found myself disturbed by a little girl who was loudly singing... "la la la la la la la la" as she danced around. The tune sounded vaguely familiar. I looked at her and marvelled: "Only a child could get away with being that unashamedly, publically joyful," I thought to myself. She just looked so absolutely happy, and couldn't care less about looking silly in front of onlookers. I almost envied her.
After a while, the little girl's mother came along. "Hey - you're not in church now, dear!" she smiled, whisking the girl off to the next shop. Suddenly it hit me: The tune she'd been singing was "Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate!" I was shocked out of my arduous exegetical work... How amazingly appropriate that this sort of unashamed joy was a product of church - and how appropriate that it couldn't be contained by church, but spilt out into the most idolatrous of places, a shopping mall.
Hmm... "Out of the mouths of infants you have ordained praise"....
After a while, I returned to my talk preparation, with a renewed awareness of the privilege of the work, and a new tune in my head: Celebrate Jesus... Celebrate!
Matthew R Malcolm has joined theologer.com to guest blog about once a week. He blogs at Crypto-Theology.
By faith it IS possible to please Him. And without it we lack even a chance so...
First believe He exists. Check.
Next believe that He rewards those who seek him. Check
Now I can draw near to God.
Interesting, that in order to draw near, we have to believe that the Lord will bless our efforts in seeking Him. That is, we not only have to seek God to draw near, but we have to believe that it will yield something valuable.
Faith. And then we can please Him. But this isn't supposed to be something which we DO. It's supposed to lead us to Jesus.
The writer of Hebrews is saying that God DOES reward those who seek Him. Then he's saying it's only by faith - belief, not action - that we please the Lord.
Belief. Not action. Get that? Faith.
Today we had a guest speaker come in to class and share some things with us on our class on the theology of ministry. He asked us what is one thing we can do to be better Christians. So think about that for a second before you go on.
What is one thing you can do to be a better Christian?
There were varied answers from "pray and fast more" or "tithe better" to "nothing." I answered that we should sin more so that grace may abound (don't worry, it was in jest).
Anyhow, I thought his point was interesting, it being that as believers we generally believe we are justified by faith - though many of us may live to contrary. But then we also believe that we are sanctified through effort.
Now you may have never thought of it this way, but even those of us who genuinely believe that nothing we can do could possibly earn us salvation - we are the same people who live as focused as we can to be sanctified by own own effort or strength.
I thought this interesting as I was chewing on it today in class. I certainly do live like I am the only one who can sanctify myself. But Hebrews 2 reminds us that it is Jesus who does the sanctifying work, not us.
I certainly need to go dwell on that.
I'm in the airport about to fly home... alone... so I have plenty of time to mull this over (yea right... like you can just figure it out in a few hours... but I can certainly try).
As I've been sorting through my feelings on blogging and this has been my thought process:
1. People read my blog. Cool. I should keep writing. I like that people read my writing.
2. As more people read I'll become like... internet famous. Which, while the lamest type of fame, is still cool.
3. I write under a pseudonym so I wont be able to become prideful.
4. I've become prideful.
5. I hope it still brings glory to the Lord and I'm not just a moron writing personal thoughts while leaving God out of the equation.
While, what I want to be thinking is:
1. People read my blog. Cool. I hope I'm writing things that are glorifying to God and edifying to these people.
2. As more people read my blog, more people will be blessed by the things I write which glorify God.
3. I hope people know this is a place that glorifies the Lord.
Note this verse in Philippians. HE WAS GOD PEOPLE! He was GOD and he was able to be humble and did not aspire to equality with God. I am not just mere mortal man, but LAME mere mortal man striving for INTERNET FAME! INTERNET respect... LAME!
We all know this verse... and probably the two verses preceding it... here the thought is in its entirety, "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." But pride is one of the hardest things NOT to live.
What does it look like to be a servant on the internet? I BEG an answer.
We have pastors, aspiring pastors, businessmen, people from Korea, India, and even missionaries to such places. Lots of interesting fodder for conversation.
Across the hall in one of the fancier classrooms they have a small library across one wall. Here are some pictures:
Among many big fancy and OLD books is one of the biggest collections of Pilgrims Progress you might ever see. Some are VERY old. I tried to take some pictures with ya'll in mind. You vary your headers so much. Feel free to use them if you'd like. Maybe you should credit RTS Orlando for them... but I don't know etiquette for things like this.
This last one was a Latin Vulgate from 1567... in fantastic shape. Just fascinating. I cant help but wonder who held this book. (to see a larger image just click the original)
For those of us who like to argue this passage is much loved because we are to be ready to give a defense of our hope. In other words, we're to be ready to say, "we hope in Christ's making new of all things, because God raised him from the dead to prove that he is lord [read eschatological judge of the world]." And for many of us this means we get to argue about epistemology, historical method, personal relative proof, personal experience, worldviews, etc. This also means that we get to quote the church fathers, make fun of Bertrand Russel, pretend to understand Kierkegaard, parrot Van Til while agreeing with Barth, use Plantinga's terminology, and dismiss Kant and Descartes as though we knew them personally, all of this in the looming shadow of Hume. But I'm not going there.
But when I read 1Peter I am often floored because of the previous clause. We are to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts. The reason we are to do this, says Pete, is because in a world where Christ is Lord the righteous need not fear performing righteousness because Jesus will vindicate his people. So if we sanctify, or set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts my guess is that our fears, real though they may be, will probably melt away.
My position (that I won't defend apart from its explanatory power) is that sanctifying or setting apart Christ as Lord in our hearts means coming to believe in him whom we have not seen in the same way we believe gravity will make us plummet to earth from space and we live accordingly. Perhaps this happens even more deeply, like knowing him as Lord in the way that I know my best friend loves me and I live accordingly.
So, sanctify Jesus Christ as Lord in your hearts.
BTW: If anybody has any good advice concerning how to do so, please let me know. This is obviously a practice for believers to do, those who have "tasted the kindness of the Lord," so it doesn't mean "wait for Jesus to change you."
Geoff has joined theologer.com to guest blog about once a week. He blogs at The Faceless Name
I'm staying with a group of guys while I'm down here in Orlando and yesterday I noticed pasted on one of their doors what looks like a little kid's Sunday School project. It's a man with a cross pasted on his arms with Luke 9:23 written on it.
I don't know why it has never occurred to me before, but every time I've ever read this passage it seems so obvious to me what it means... because I know Jesus died on a cross. I know he took up a physical cross and carried it to Calvary.
But today it occurred to me, that Jesus is the one who said this - and before he died to boot. Has this been obvious to all of you? Am I alone in being clueless to this?
Imagine Jesus telling you to take up your cross and not knowing about what was coming and then trying to understand this... How would you understand it?
It seems so much more obvious to me that we must take up our cross because I know Jesus did it. He knows what its like because he took up a physical cross and a MUCH bigger spiritual cross than I will ever carry.
Thank God he took up a real cross. Now I just have to figure out what it looks like for me to live this verse and then we'll be good.
I'll keep writing, just don't come by. Deal?
"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." - Galatians 5:24
I did not grow up in a PCA church (although I was dedicated as a child in one) but I did attend one for about seven months in college. I really had a great experience from the first time I walked in the door and that's why I stayed, the people we're wonderful to me.
Today's experience was a little different. I was uncomfortable mostly just because people dress so nice; I dressed decently nice but it's a lot easier to be comfortable around people who dress casually. When I sat down there was a guy on stage playing the organ, and I had this thought:
PCA Churches are awesome because it's a bunch of uptight (or what I like to call wedgie) people gathered together trying to worship the Lord.
New PCA Churches (or ones on the edge) are a bunch of uptight (wedgie) people gathered together trying NOT to be wedgies, and worshiping the Lord.
But almost as soon as I had this thought the church surprised me. The worship was wonderful. The message started out awkward but really hit home with me. He taught on Philippians 4:4-8, specifically verse 6 which says "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Now I'm a pretty relaxed guy, but I totally stress out when I travel. In a week and half I have to take the whole family and REALLY travel (I'm talking like 48+ hours of travel), and I'm very much NOT excited about it, because I get so anxious.
The message this morning can be boiled down to:
We get anxious
When we're anxious, petition the Lord
When we're anxious, give thanks to the Lord
And I realized when I'm thankful I calm down. I relax and focus more on everything that has gone right than I do on the things that might go wrong.
Having just finished a class on expository preaching, I was impressed with how the model hit home for me when this pastor really did it. The frozen chosen were a blessing to me this weekend, and wedgie as they might be, they're so in love with the Lord it's just fun to see.
- as a side note, I was very tempted today to write philippions - just to see if jim was watching.
- Revelation 2:17
First of all, my other blog - the sieve and the sand - has recently purchased it's own dot com.
We also just published our second book. Titled "Peeing our name in the sand." Keep in mind, this is the not the type of poetry you send to your mom. Nor will you read it in English class. This stuff is actually interesting.
To buy the book (as I know you are all rushing out to do) simply follow this link.
I also want to introduce Michael from TheologyNow.net. He has been taking part over at the forums and he's recently started a blog. I've added him to my blogroll and I think many of you will really like what he writes (it's quite meaty, in a make-you-think kind of way).
Finally, I met a guy in class this last week named Ben. He's a youth pastor and runs reformedyouthpastor.com. I know few of the people who read this blog are reformed, but you may still find this site useful. It is very well designed (he's got some skills in that respect), and I can personally vouch for him seeming to be a good guy. I shared a canoe with him yesterday and he didn't tip it, so that's always good.
So head over and check out Michael's blog, and Ben's site. Also check out the sieve and the sand, and feel free to buy our book (we make 20 cents off of every copy!).
I came across this verse yesterday in my morning Bible study and had again a thought I've frequently had. That is, the Lord definitely uses the weak and those whom I would never choose to lead. He sets them in places of leadership and changes things the gifted fail to change.
Specifically I recall in college someone had united all the big campus ministries for a night of worship. It was a powerful evening like I hadn't attending in a very long time; we saw people come from all different denominations and walks of life and worship God together. At the end of the night they called up the guy who had arranged it to thank him. I was shocked. I knew him, and he was a total dork. He stuttered a little bit when he spoke (I suppose like Moses might have) and wasn't altogether generally well liked because he was socially awkward.
And yet the Lord used him in a powerful way. That night of worship in unity repeats every year now and I think has had a powerful impact on that school.
Now what gets me about this verse is my gifts. The Lord has made me bright, even semi-good looking, and comfortable speaking in front of people. I'm decently good at most sports I do, and most people enjoy interacting with me. That is, I would consider myself among the wise and the strong (maybe this makes me foolish in itself, but seriously, I've been greatly blessed by the Lord).
So when I read this I always wonder about the things I feel called to do. I feel called to do some pretty big things, but I wonder, will he use someone who is gifted?
I think the problem is, given my many strengths, I definitely have a tendency to rely on myself. I don't easily lean on the Lord when I teach because I'm comfortable speaking. Even if what I say isn't perfect, people will enjoy it. If I was to organize a campus wide worship evening on campus, I would have relied on my people skills and extroverted personality.
It's extremely hard for me to be humble and lean on the Lord because I'm good at many things! I don't mean this as a boast, but rather as a confession. If the Lord uses the weak and the foolish, it is because the wise and strong probably don't think they need God to do things.
Forgive me Lord, and give me the strength to be weak, and the wisdom to be foolish, that I may depend on you instead of my own strengths.
Feel free to tag Piper or some other big names just for amusement if you can get them in on it... I'd be curious to see if God's been teaching Piper any new tricks...
Anyhow, I basically tagged people asking them what God has been teaching them...
The original post is here.
And the follow up here.
Here are the people who have responded since the last post:
Drew - who prefers Autobiographical Widget instead of meme
he also has learned the worst thing in this Autobiographical Widget thus far...
Geoff - who tagged no one
And here are the newly tagged folks:
Mike* - again
Bishop Alan Wilson*
Even if you're just curious to see some new blogs give them a look see. It's pretty crazy how much is out there. Who knew there were so many Christians out there?
And as much as I enjoyed reading all yall's stuff, I never want to follow up a meme again! This was downright painful. So this will be my last post on it even if it continues to grow that is, unless I find something REALLY interesting...
* indicates this person has not yet responded to the meme and may have just recently been tagged.
Today a guy in my class preached on this scripture and what he said was pretty fascinating, focusing mostly on the consuming fire.
He also talked about how we should be grateful and offer acceptable worship to God because we've been given a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Imagine if we were given something as our inheritance which was perishable?
Or even built well but with a poor foundation. I'm pleased to think that our inheritance in the kingdom will not pass away, or be affected by floods or earthquakes. I can leave candles on in the house and not be worried about them burning it down in my heavenly inheritance.
But then this verse is followed by the consuming fire. Our God is a force to be reckoned with, the same God that can provide something which cant be shaken, can also utterly destroy.
We worship a powerful God. I have a friend who is 6'6", he is half Native American and half Hispanic, and just got out of the marines. You would NOT want to meet this guy in a dark alley, but I can walk comfortably knowing he's on my side. A guy that big, he's good to have on your side.
God's the biggest, the toughest, and the scariest, but He's on our side, He's our friend, and we don't need to be afraid because we're with Him. And he has given us a good gift, an unshakable kingdom.
I read this and think, THANK GOD! I'm so tired... class from 8-5 everyday all day long will wear on a guy. But I still have five more days to go.
But seriously, praise God he renews us inside, praise God because my outer self is wasting away too quickly. I had four fake teeth before I was 22 years old. Now I'm still young and already having back problems (enough to have been to a chiropractor for the last 2 months and still not be better), I'm balding and even my mind is fading (I think, this one is hard to measure).
The point is, our father looks out for us. He is renewing our spirit, that which will live forever. We're like the 1942 Chevy that will be driven in 2002, 3002, and even 14,009. We may get our oil changed but that won't be enough to keep us running for eternity; we need something supernatural.
Thank you Lord.
See the original post here.
The Rev TC
Matthew from crypto-theology
Brian from συνεσταυρωμαι
Tim from If I were a Bell I'd Ring
David from Lingamish
All but David have responded so check out their sites... They have tagged:
elshaddai - he is sufficient
scripture zealot - who tagged John MacArthur, but I cant find his blog...:)
K. Joel Gilliard*
* those who have not yet responded... I've linked to their blog instead of the meme post
WHEW! that wore me out. Making me wish I was back in my programming days and could have just written some sort of recursive program to do this.
Keep in mind that most of those folks who have not yet responded have only been tagged recently... I don't think I'll be able to keep up if this keeps going, but I THINK I've gotten everyone for now... Thanks for participating everyone, I love reading what you're learning.
Let me know if there are any broken links, I'd be surprised if there aren't given the absurdly long nature of this thing...
Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life... John 6:68 (Peter remembers that Jesus is who he says he is, when Jesus offers him the chance to jump ship)
So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. 1Co 3:21-23 (Paul reminds us that God gives all his gifts to his beloved therefore we ought not boast in our teacher or education)
These three texts come together for me like this: In the absence of everybody else we still have God in Christ reconciling us to him. When everything goes wrong, when all our things are taken or destroyed, when everybody abandons us, we still have him. When everybody hates us, we still have him. When it even appears that God himself has taken everything away and leaves us to death, even so, death itself belongs to us and we belong to Christ.
But I ask, "how can all things be mine if I have nothing? how can all things be mine, if the one thing I ever wanted is not? how can all things be mine if I don't even have what I need?" Well, the promise from Paul is that everything belongs to the one who believes the gospel. He answers my question in a deeper way in Romans 8, he says that all things work to the good of those who believe in Jesus Christ, defining good as being conformed to the image of Jesus. So all things do belong to us, just in their proper order, something is mine in the since that in spite of all appearances it will lead to my ultimate wellbeing. So then what shall we say to this? I am promised everything, but have nothing. No, we simply remember that we belong to Christ and he belongs to his Father and say, "Whom have I in heaven but you? to whom shall I turn? You have the words of eternal life."
*This is probably a naive post, but I struggle sometimes with simply remembering that Jesus is with me, for me, and loves me. This should be a swell of deep happiness, but I often allow certain feelings of melancholy to paralyze me from many disciplines and fruitful pursuits of Jesus, so often times just remembering his actions towards me contrasted with mine towards him(see Ps 73:22) is a sweet experience in the face of much disappointment, despondancy, and spiritual depression.
Geoff has joined theologer.com to guest blog about once a week. He blogs at The Faceless Name
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,"
I think I've written on blessing the Lord before (it's sad I can't remember or find it through a search) but if it's something you don't do, consider getting in the habit. Awkward as it may be at first.
But bless the Lord.. with your whole soul! After all, when was the last time that you thanked He "who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases"?- v3
Or the one "who redeems your life from the pit" - verse 4... These are not little things. These are matters of not just pain, suffering, right and wrong. It's not even just about life and death, but about eternal damnation or eternal joy, a black and white that we might never be able to comprehend.
That's the God we worship.
If the angels bless Him(v20) and His ministers (v21) then so ought your soul. "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him"(v11). The heavens are FAR above the earth.
And let me tell you, when it says "as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us," that is NO little deal.
I've been to Western Europe, and they're a little like us. I've been the Middle East, and I started to think they were pretty weird. But then I saw the Far East, and let me tell you, the East is a LONG ways from the West. There is nothing about the East that is ANYTHING like the West.
Our God removed our sins that far from us. So next time before a meal instead of "Good food, good meat, good God lets eat," try a "God we bless you for your steadfast love, for your provision for this meal, for your great love for us, for dying on the cross for us. Bless you God!"
One of the first things he did when he walked in was share with us his blog address, which I found amusing but I was also somewhat impressed by. When an intellectual is tuned in enough to be involved in things like blogging, when they could just see it as dorky, I'm always impressed.
Well I wanted to share with you a story he used to illustrate the Christian life and the Christian church. I was going to type some of it out, but I don't want to ruin a good illustration. Here is the link: The Music and the Dance
I'm just curious, do you find yourself the kind of person who listens to the music? Or are you deaf and dancing just because you see other folks doing it? And what about your church, can they hear the music?
I definitely dance like the other people just so I can not feel out of place, but I think I go back and forth between focusing on the music and then sometimes the people.
In an effort to keep it simple, short, and easy to follow, I'd like to challenge you to quote one verse (not one chapter). And then say what the Lord has been teaching you in one sentence (not one paragraph). Then tag 5 peeps (you know the drill).
"Seek the LORD and his strength;
seek his presence continually!" - Psalm 105:4
When I am weak, tired, and burned out, the solution is to look the to the Lord and seek his presence.
The Rev TC (and his blog's pretty new look)
Matthew from crypto-theology (my new favorite read)
Brian from συνεσταυρωμαι (with a recently fascinating post on Preaching
Tim from If I were a Bell I'd Ring (whose been on some interesting travels)
David from Lingamish (who has been posting risqué pictures of late)
You can link back here or not (I don't really mind either way), and I'll try to keep up with following it up for a bit.
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore."
- Psalm 131:1-3
Oh also, as I was thinking about this, I decided to pose a question about it over in the forum.
I wrote the other day about shame and guilt and I've been thinking about it since. In the shame based culture where I've been spending my time these days, we've had to really re-think the way we do evangelism. Now there are experts who know these things but I found it fascinating.
The thing is, in America we would read this verse and then think, "we have sinned." That is, we have done something wrong that needs to be made right. We will even share the gospel with people as "you have sinned, and the only person who can make things right is God Himself, you do want to be forgiven don't you? What you did was wrong!"
But in a shame based culture they would read this verse completely differently and think, "Oh my gosh, we sinned AGAINST the Lord! We have shamed God!" And then to apply it in evangelism a whole new approach must be taken, as this person would not care if what they had done was wrong, turning to Jesus would bring shame to their family. Therefore the approach of "You have shamed God, your creator, the only way you can bring back the honor he deserves is to turn to Him and He will choose to forget how you have wronged Him. What you did was shameful!"
Then people wake up, "Oh my gosh," they say, "I shamed God!" And then this becomes the vehicle by which they turn to the Lord.
Anyhow, I just found this fascinating. We read sin and think wrongdoing. They read sin and think dishonor.
seek his presence continually!" - Psalm 105:4
It took me nearly twenty years to learn that this is the essence of the Christian life. I heard it over and over again but I almost never saw it lived out. In retrospect I think my father and few other people successfully modeled trying to seek the Lord, but we're all just so bad at it.
My ESV Bible titles this Psalm "Tell of all his wonderful works," which is a good summary of what it says. I appreciate the Psalm because David pretty systematically praises the Lord and sings of the freedom the Lord has given him and his ancestors.
As a father I lay my hand on my daughter's head everyday and I beg the Lord that she would know Him and that she would know the joy which comes from seeking Him. I was so old before I learned life was not about me. I was so old before I learned I alone could never find satisfaction, hope, and love. I was always sooooo close (or so I thought) because I could find fleeting things. But I never experienced true joy, and the freedom that comes from it, until I learned to seek the Lord's strength and dwell in His presence.
Childhood was hard because I didn't understand this. I hope it's more obvious to my kids. I hope I can model a life saved by grace and not always make it seem like I'm the one who will really bring myself salvation. I want to model seeking the Lord's strength instead of my own, and seeking Him instead of the things of this world.
I should also mention, in Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret at one point someone asks Hudson Taylor if it's hard to constantly remember that he dwells in the Lord. His answer was something along the lines of "If you stay the night at a friends house, and forget that you're staying there, does that mean you're no longer in the house?"
We can forget we're in the presence of the Lord, but we're still there.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."
And he called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power."
- (Mark 8:27-9:1)
When I'm disappointed with how king Jesus seems to be handling things I remember that he defines the terms of his kingly reign, following him is no democracy. I cannot anymore vote that Jesus be the crucified and risen savior than I can vote on the law of gravity. If Jesus chooses to deliver his subjects by dying for them, even when it seems to us like a stupid way to be a messiah, then he can also define that same cross as the means by which we follow him.
All that to say that we too often define following Jesus by our own terms. Following Jesus happens on his own terms. There is a way to glory with the world, but shame with God, this is more often than not what we or the broader culture says is best. Then there is a way that is shameful, stupid, and foolish according to the world, but is glory with God, that is the way defined by Jesus, that is the cross. Regardless of our terminology for discipleship, let Jesus supply the content.
Geoff has joined theologer.com to guest blog about once a week. He blogs at The Faceless Name
I don't know about you but about the last thing in this world I would want to hear is "Oh, you're miserable in there? Well, after you've been miserable a little while, I'll send my buddy in to refresh you."
This verse is likely intended to instill confidence in our Lord and His ability to save us out whatever trials we face. The context for this is dealing with the attacks of the enemy. We want to worship a God who removes us from all strife and pain, but that isn't what the Lord is promising here.
Rather, he is telling us to rejoice in ours suffering, "knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." - verse 9. Our God is one who allows us to be refined by the difficulties of life but then promises to deliver us. He never told us He would take us out of this world, just that He would be with us in the midst of it.
I can name many times in my life which were absolutely miserable times, and I begged and begged the Lord to take me out of them, but He did not. Instead he let me suffer a little while. Then restored me, confirmed me, strengthened me, and established me. I can look back on all those experiences (granted some took years) and see the hand of the Lord and His great love in choosing to make me the man that I am today through such tough circumstances.
Suffering made me a man calm enough, and appreciative enough to be a decent husband to my wife (I wont say good...) and suffering has given me perspective enough to love my daughter even when she's crying in the middle of the night.
I praise God he let me suffer a little while, though admittedly, it isn't how I would have done it. But I suppose that's why I'm not the big guy upstairs. He is.
Do you find yourself praying, "Lord make me humble, but I don't want it to be embarrassing. Lord make me patient, but I don't want it to hurt. Lord make me like your son, but I don't want to go through the fire."?
I know I do, but His ways are higher than ours.
To me beer is part of the refreshing after the difficulty.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous."
- Psalm 25:1-3
If you're American, British, an Aussie, or from anywhere in what we consider the "western world," then you come from a guilt based society. That is, we have a real strong sense of right and wrong, and feel worse about being wronged than anything else.
Much of the third world and all of the Middle East however, is generally shame based. To them what is right and wrong is not nearly so important as what brings shame.
I've lived in a shame based culture for a little over six years now and I am still not used to it. I couldn't care less if I do something that brings shame to me as long as it is right. But many of my friends will do what is wrong (even lie, cheat, steal etc...) as long as it does not bring shame to them or their family. A parent will often encourage their child to cheat to get into college, because not getting into college is shameful, and as long as they don't get caught they consider it to be basically free from consequences.
Now if I was thrown in jail because of something I did illegally my family would be ashamed a little bit, but would also feel that right had been done by putting me in jail. If however, I was jailed for something I did not do, then I would be as angry as I can possibly imagine, and I imagine my family would be too.
When reading this psalm it is important to understand that being put to shame is the worst thing imaginable to a person in a shame based society. And while this seems an odd prayer to relate to (because I don't feel like it does much for my enemy to be put to shame - I would if justice was served), we must understand it's significance to David.
I'll try to re-write this in our terms -
"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be wrongfully accused;
let not my enemies escape their punishment.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be treated unjustly;
they shall be punished who are wantonly treacherous."
- New Roger Mugs Version (NRMV)
Now that's a prayer I can see myself praying.
What I'd kill to be able to write such a loaded statement in only one line.
I'm not so sure I can even say much about this verse besides just that. Things like this make me think again about the teacher I long to become. The best professors, nay, the best teachers anywhere and in any profession can sit you down and drive home a point. Paul was a hero. Okay, we all know that, but seriously, this guy had his act together in a way most of us will never come close.
Think about this statement. If you could pray a nearly all encompassing prayer in one line how awesome would you be?
Mine usually come out like "God please send your salvation to this nation. Bring out workers to yield your harvest." Which might be close, but I have a long ways to go. But look at what Paul can say so concisely:
"May the Lord direct your heart" - that is guide your intentions, and your desires.
"To the love of God" - the ultimate goal for our intentions, desires.
"And to the steadfastness of Christ." - remember how our God never fails? He'll always be there for you? You'll be incompetent and start living for all the wrong things, but He'll always be there and be more than good to you? Remember how your God sent His son for you? Died for you? By His grace alone allows you to breathe this breath?
Yea, that God. That steadfast Christ. May the Lord direct your heart to Him.
"I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Luke 11:8-10
Almost since that day I've been trying to become a member of the site, probably to their discomfort at times as I would look everyday to see if they were accepting applications. I even would point out blogs on the site I thought they should drop and then accept me... but all my persistence has paid off.
If you hurry up, they are still accepting applications. And now I'm a voting member of who will be invited, so feel free to butter me up.
Thank you to The Daily Scribe and their many members who had a part in voting me in. Hopefully this will begin a good tenure...
I like that this verse is so straightforward. I think we remember this verse because we remember a wide and a narrow gate. We know those who take the wide gate are many, and those who take the narrow gate which leads to life are few.
I don't know about you, but I forget how the verse begins with direction spelled out nice and big, "Enter by the narrow gate."
Yea we know about the gates and where they lead, but do we head the application in the midst of the knowledge? I almost want to drill it into my head,
ENTER BY THE NARROW GATE
ENTER BY THE NARROW GATE
ENTER BY THE NARROW GATE
There is a narrow gate and go down that road you moron. Not the wide one, the narrow one. You know where they lead. Go down through the narrow gate, not the wide one.
Just so you know, I'm not wanting people to share this space with me, I just want it to not be all about me. I travel a lot and cant always keep up with writing but would like a fresh voice once in a while, so I'm looking for about four people to write about once a week (with some flexibility).
Anyhow, I'll share more details in more depth if I'm interested in how you write. But first I want to see what your writing looks like and then I'll decide.
1. You must be in love with Jesus
2. You must already have your own blog
3. You must be willing/interested to share about what the Lord is teaching you
4. You must be willing to write posts not much longer than mine. If you're long winded I'll feel bad for the readers.
While I doubt this was written with the United Nations in mind, in theory it could apply. It would make you wonder why the guy who invented dynamite was given the Nobel Peace Prize.
I'm just thinking about that guy in you knew in school or at work who was able to bring everyone together. There are people out there with the unique gift of getting people together who just wont naturally get along. I think my father had it. For 4 years his job was to work in the Middle East to get the Israelis and the Palestinians to like one another, which is almost an impossible job. But he was good at it.
While there are those who are gifted in this area, I would suggest we are all called to be peacemakers. That is, to bring those together who cannot find resolution. To resolve issues between brothers in the church (or brothers and sisters as the case may be - that was for you TC), to unite the body of Christ throughout the world and bring the Kingdom.
My personality rubs a lot of folks wrong. In fact many of you would not like me upon meeting me (many people don't enjoy me at first impression) because of my strong personality. But this is something I've been called to bring under control and be a person who brings unity instead of division.
Does your church bring peace? Unity? Love? Do you? Or do you break people up because its easier given our fallen nature and people issues?
Remember that song, "I fought the law and the law won"? Imagine fighting God. I enjoy this verse for several reasons, Job arguing with the Lord seems extremely reasonable in our world of right and wrong. Job was wronged, it seems reasonable he would be angry with the Lord.
I love how the Lord silences Job. Job complains, complains, complains, and we're all right there with him... agreeing with all he's saying, and then at the beginning of this chapter the Lord has responded,
"And the LORD said to Job: 'Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.'" - verses 1&2
The Lord is basically saying this to us, not just Job, because we're basically siding with Job throughout this whole book. But the Lord wins.
No matter how much we contend with the Lord over right and wrong in this world, (as there sure seems to be an awful lot of it), over our lots in life, and over our good times and bad, the Lord has the right to respond, "Who are you to argue with the almighty?"
How can we in our wisdom (only infinite in it's limitations), even pretend to question the creator?
Job is challenging the big kid in the school yard, the kid let him present his point, and then pointed out that he can crush him to the ground if he doesn't shut up. "I'll shut up, I'll shut up," he responds.
"I lay my hand on my mouth, I have spoken once . . . but I will proceed no further."
Awesome. When is the last time the Lord reminded you of just how small you are? Just how insignificant your opinions? And when was the last time you thanked Him for dying for you anyway?
This hit home tonight. I'm tired. I had three doctors appointments today, with a chiropractor, dentist, and then optometrist. Then I came home and spent about 5 hours on my Hebrew class. Not to mention my little girl was having a rough day and pretty much didn't sleep today, just stirred and wined and couldn't relax. - The Lord gave rest to Israel.
I'm glad I serve a God that's not a God of works but a God of grace who even made provision from the beginning of the world for rest. Then He fulfilled his promises.
I worship a God who has promised an awful lot, and made provision for rest. Someday, I will look back and say, "Blessed be the Lord, who gave me rest, according to all he promised. He fulfilled all he promised to his children."
Then he laid out a plan for redemption. I like to explain about how the Jews had to sacrifice a lamb so the Lord would look on the lamb and see our sins on it instead of on us. This leads so clearly into who Jesus and why his sacrifice was so significant.
I can't ever get the idea of the scapegoat out of my head, and then how the Lord chooses to look on Jesus and count our sin against him instead of us.
Today I was reading this:
"Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith." Galatians 3:23-26
We went from needing a guardian, from absolutely depending on the law - and God's provision in a lamb when we fell short of it - to being children of the Most High God.
but a harsh word stirs up anger" - Proverbs 15:1
As a married man I could not live the reality any more than I do. I was just thinking today about how when I get frustrated with my wife I will tell her and her apology is so authentic that even though I want to remain angry, I simply cannot.
In contrast, if she shows frustration with me, I will frequently become frustrated in return because she didn't tell me it would frustrate her (or some variance thereof).
This sounds ridiculous but the way it plays out is something like this.
me - "Honey, you're making me crazy that you did that"
her- "I'm really sorry."
her- "Honey, you're making me crazy that you did that"
me - "What?! How can that make you crazy? It's not like I did it because I wanted to make you crazy!"
Just think about who is the bigger person here. I know it's obvious to you, but do you do the same thing? If my wife apologizes like this, we both walk way edified. When I respond like I do, we both end up grumpy with one another. Anger is not a good thing.
Okay, that was a lot of expounding on a simple Proverb of which the meaning seems pretty obvious, but I wanted to paint a bit of a picture.
It's so frustrating that this can be obvious, but I can still be completely incapable of doing the right thing.
Picture the tight ship Obama ran, picture the first black president, who can get nothing done because of the attention-and-power-hungry vice president he has to spend all of his time keeping in check instead of doing what needs to get done.
I don't yet know what I think of Obama, but I do know he's had about ten times the class of Hillary in this campaign, and having her around would be devastating.
Just my opinion.
I'm thinking, earthquakes, and typhoons. China and Myanmar. I'm thinking New Orleans, and tornadoes in Kansas. And how much I believe I live in peace and security. And how quickly it could be taken away.
I also think about bringing children into such a world. But I have two other thoughts.
1. People of every generation feared it being the last, and there being terrible times ahead.
2. Living like the Lord will return does not mean putting life on hold, quite the opposite.
"But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness." - v 4-5
He presses for a bit about the importance grace in preaching; and again how easy it is to fall into a pattern of teaching works-based salvation without realizing it. Then he has a list of the things an expository sermon should teach. Among which is "Grace compelling holiness."
The quote that really gets my attention is this, "In Christ-centered preaching, the rules of Christian obedience do not change; the reasons do."
Think about that.
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. . ." - 1 Peter 8-10
A person motivated by grace loves his neighbor because he is loved no matter what he does, he knows it is impossible to lose the love of the Lord. Therefore he does not love his neighbor out of fear that the Lord will take away His hand of blessing (as I often do), but rather, out of love.
If I understand grace I will not go pray for that dirty beggar because I must, but because I can. Because God loved me, I will choose to love him, rather than doing it out of guilt.
Gosh I want to understand this, and it will likely be a life-long struggle, but I just cant get it deeper than my skin. I know it in my head, but it doesn't ever sink in. I want to be a good steward of your grace, but in order to really do that, I need to really believe it.
Lord help me to be compelled to love; compelled to obedience, not out of guilt, but out of my understanding of your love and grace for me. Help me to understand.