On Christians marrying non-Christians (Romans 8:5)

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." - Romans 8:5

A few weeks ago a lady asked me about Christians marrying non-Christians. Actually, this was the last of several questions, she first asked about gays in the church and then eventually got to this question. I think she may have been trying to justify to herself why she might be interested in marrying a non-christian.

The thing that surprises me most about this question is that it's not obvious to people. If these people really are believers then I would think it would be obvious to them. This passage basically sums it up, our lives are about different things. A believer who is truly trying to follow God will seek God above all else. But if you genuinely do not believe in God then there is little reason to live for anything but yourself.

I imagine in a life without God it is stupid to live for anything other pleasure, money, fame, etc... for these are the things of the world which satisfy (albeit temporarily), these are the things of the flesh. But as believers we're called to set our minds on the things of the Spirit. We are to seek God's kingdom above all and to glorify him before all thing.

If two people with such different life goals get married they simply cannot both whole heartedly pursue them both. There will be times when God calls you to a career which is more about His Kingdom and less about money, but how can a unbelieving spouse possibly understand that? This is just one example of what I imagine would be many many conflicts of interest.

The Lord asks us to be equally yoked, not because He doesn't want us to be the 'one we love' but because He wants what's best for us. And what's best for us is not the things of this world, we need a spouse who understands that.

The spirit like a dove (Matthew 3:16)

"And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him." - Matthew 3:16

First of all there will be a further update on my family once I know more. Things are sort of unclear right now.

This morning I read this verse and I've been wondering a bit about this. In some depictions an actual dove descends and rests on Jesus' shoulder. But I wonder why it doesn't say, "The Holy Spirit descended on him AS a dove," rather than "like." I'm learning Greek and I'm seeing that there is some leeway in some of these words and I don't really know what the situation is for this verse - it's not so much my point.

Certainly we use a dove to represent the Holy Spirit (I actually have a tattoo of a dove on my shoulder for this reason) but think about all this meant. I wonder if before this instance a dove signified beauty, purity, gentleness, etc... It's my understanding dove's were seen as kosher at the time of Jesus and one of the few birds acceptable for sacrifice (correct me if I'm wrong on this), so it appears that at least purity would have been understood.

I don't really know why I'm dwelling on this, but its occurring to me that we're pretty short on symbols for God for the father (besides maybe and alpha and omega together), and that the Holy Spirit makes it's first appearance as a symbol.

I'm also thinking about how awesome the Holy Spirit is, and what an unbelievable gift it is from the Lord. This morning when reading this I was also processing just how much I neglect my need for the Holy Spirit and how it's a whole 1/3rd of the trinity. I cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit, only the Holy Spirit can. Even Jesus had the Holy Spirit descend upon him.

Lord send your spirit to rest on us. We need you.

The loss of children (Isaiah 47:9)

"These two things shall come to you
in a moment, in one day;
the loss of children and widowhood
shall come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
and the great power of your enchantments." - Isaiah 47:9

This verse is spoken to one who is a lover of pleasures.

I took a week long trip away from the family (not by choice... for work, this sort of thing is never by choice) and I got home less than 48 hours ago. If you remember it wasn't but about 8 months ago that I had a little girl. My wife was excited to tell me after I landed that to our surprise we were pregnant again. But this morning we're seeing what is probably the first signs of a miscarriage.

It's odd for me to feel the loss of something I've not yet gotten used to having. It's harder for me to know I could have had a child when I have an idea of what he/she could have looked like (e.g. after the first one). I haven't begun to process this yet and I wonder about this verse.

Not that I'm seeing this as a punishment, in a lot of ways it might be more convenient for us to be able to wait a few more months like we may have planned, but that doesn't make it any easier to lose life.

God's will is God's will. Sometimes it's just hard to know how it lines up with ours.

(We don't know anything for sure, we're going to see the doctor tomorrow. Keep us in your prayers if you think of it)

computer fixed.

be back shortly (i dropped it a week ago)

Sunday scripture day (Genesis 1:3-4)

"And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.  5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day." - Genesis 1:3-4

I'm commanded to love you - dang it. (1 John 4:21)

"And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." - 1 John 4:21

For some reason I don't remember 1 John having so many verses about loving our neighbors but they're are a ton and they're just so darn quotable.

Today when running a car actually ran into me. Now he didn't hit me hard and I could (in theory but lets be serious) have run on the sidewalk instead of the road, but he hit me nonetheless mid-stride. Had I not been listening to music I might have done worse than to give him a dirty look and keep running.

The thing is I immediately feel bad because I don't have a right to even give him a dirty look, I should have been more tuned in. Yes, he could have been more courteous to me and slowed down as he turned onto my street, but I cant have it all. And after all I'm reminded today that I'm not just supposed to love my brother. I'm commanded to love my brother.

And apparently my brother is the guy who drives really really really extremely poorly around where I live. At this point I'd really like to remind everyone who reads this blog this means you're commanded to love me, but that would be missing the point wouldn't it.

I'm commanded to love you.

Let me know how I can do so better.

p.s. I noticed the other day that Brian at sunestauromai wrote a post on the main themes in 1 John and mentioned one of them being God is love and we should therefore live in love.

On loving weird folk (1 John 4:11)

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." - 1 John 4:11

Seems good enough a reason when I read it, but why is it so hard to live out?
What about treating others like God treats me is so hard?

I suppose the problem is somewhat related to the fact that I'm selfish and tend to find it difficult to treat other even as well as myself let along better than I treat myself. That is, the Lord treats me substantially better than I treat myself - let alone others.

But then this verse doesn't call me to love others as well as the Lord loves me, in fact all it asks is that I just simply love others. And why does God have to tell us to do that? Because even though it's obvious we're morons and again - we love ourselves. Not to mention some people are just difficult to love, they're weird or they smell funny or they talk too much or hang around too long or whatever.

We all know weird people and we are all someone else's weird person. Which makes us every bit as difficult to love no matter how people centric we are. But whether or not we're easier than other people, we're certainly not worthy of the love of God so it doesn't matter if we think those around us are worthy of our love. We aren't told to love them because they deserve it, but because God loved us.

Lord help us to put aside our self-centeredness and love others because you love us even though we don't deserve it.

A Jesus gait (1 John 2:5b-6)

"By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." - 1 John 2:5b-6

I'm pretty fascinated by the fruit we bear. I think sometimes the fruit isn't always what we think it will be. That is, there probably is something to being able to judge a Christian by his fruit, but the fruit may be something other than converts. Certainly there are those with the gift of evangelism, and there will also be those who are just probably inherently bad at it. But we should all still be doing evangelism right?

So then if your gifting lies elsewhere how do we tell? If the fruit is less tangible than the number of new believers someone has left in their wake then how do we measure it?

Unfortunately for us in judging others and fortunately for others judging us, I'm not sure its quite so obvious on the outside. I think there is a depth to be found in the believer who really dwells in the Lord. I think we will learn to walk in the same ways Jesus walked as we follow after him.

I study Kungfu once a week and the way I study is to do the exact same thing as my Kungfu master every single time we meet to study. I replicate his movements as well as I possibly can and he corrects my mistakes. The more I follow in his ways the more I do the movements correctly because I'm doing them like him.

In the same way the more we walk like Christ the more we become like Him and this will be visible to others although it might take them digging a little deeper than what's on the surface. The cool thing is that it becomes a sort of assurance of salvation for our friends. I'm sure we have some friends who have just been born again and really don't have their acts together. But those men and women who begin to act and smell like Jesus, it seems we can know that they're in Him.

I pray I can become a person who dwells often enough in the house of the Lord that I begin to feel at home there. The kind of person who follows in the Lord's footsteps enough to begin to walk just like Him, and even mimic His decisions.

Let's walk the same way He walked.

The sieve publishes book 3

I'm pleased to announce that it's been a long time coming but we've finally published book 3 over at the sieve and the sand. The book is titled "buttloads of poetry" and is only $5.96

Since I know all of you are jumping out of your theology seats to read what will probably amount to offense poetry, here is the direct link: http://www.lulu.com/content/5572800.

p.s. seriously though, there is a lot of poetry here which probably will offend.

Sunday scripture day (Matthew 5:17)

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." - Matthew 5:17

Let your light shine before others - on not being a moron (Matthew 5:16)

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

Thinking today about how many of us (me included) live lives we cant be proud of, at least in some sense. That is, if I had a good Christian friend who had as bad of road rage as I get (seriously... these people drive like morons) then I would be ashamed to tell others he was a believer. I certainly wouldn't hold him up as an example of what believers are to be.

A friend of a friend's wife got mad at me one day playing rugby years ago. She blew up at me and I have little respect for her since as it was a relatively petty thing to get frustrated over (at least this was my view). Anyhow, a month or two ago I saw her running a red light and my thought was, "This lady is just a jerk to everyone around her."

Later on my ride home right after seeing this, I ran a red light and then when someone almost hit me I got angry with them and then considered getting close enough to scrape their car to let them know I didn't appreciate it.

What is that?

That's shameful hypocrisy is what it is. Normally in life I can drive like an old man, and in doing so I relax myself and others are relaxed around me. I drive responsibly and do not take unnecessary dangers. Finally because I drive slow I can be courteous to others around me. But here I fail miserably. I get the right away if I'm on a bike, on foot, or in a car. And EVERYONE needs to yield to me - or at least that's how I drive.

Anyhow. All this to say that it's fascinating that I can really not have a problem with anger basically ever, but this one area of my life is something in which I am not a light to the world. I want to be proud of how I live and the example I set of what a man in love with the Lord is like. Normally I am proud. But I've got some area for improvement for sure.

Let your light shine. But be tuned in that when you're light is out because you're being a moron you're not lighting the way for anyone.

When we will no longer worship the work of our hands (Hosea 14:3b)

"And we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands." - Hosea 14:3b

Today we're not so much building golden calfs as we are retirement funds or vacation homes. But man, we sure do get down and worship them in much the same way. Finding our security in our investments (or lack thereof as the situation may be).

I work hard on something like an online personality and then start to think that's worth worshipping. Or perhaps I praise an accomplishment I've made or expect to make.

This verse comes towards the end of Hosea, one of the most horrifying books about the faithlessness of Israel. Verse 1 says, "for you have stumbled because of your iniquity." But then the majority of this chapter is God promising that He will be faithful despite Israel's unfaithfulness.

Our God is a wonderful forgiving God, but He doesn't stop there. He also promises that there will come a day when we will no longer bow to the work of our hands.

That's a promise worth looking forward to.

The law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2)

""For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." - Romans 8:2

I've always been tuned into the verse before this - how there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ - which is a pretty awesome promise. But the details of why and how are pretty fascinating too.

There is a law of sin and death in the same way there is a law of gravity. We are all bound by it because it is the way things are. However, we are freed from sin and death because of another law - the Spirit. This would be more akin to the presidential pardon analogy. We've sinned and been put away - sentenced to death in prison. But because of what the Spirit has done we're pardoned.

We're set free in Christ Jesus. There is no condemnation because we are no longer bound by the law of sin and death. We are bound by the law of the Spirit of life. We have a God who beat death. That's pretty cool. A lot of people settle for god's they think will give them money to buy a car, or a god which might help their business. But our God HAS beat death.

And we're set free. Awesome.