Sunday, November 20, 2011


I have prided myself on my memory throughout much of my life. It seems to be getting a lot harder to remember anything of substance these days. Sometimes, in my tired moments, circuts spark and memories flood in, like a river Dam that bursts from a few tiny cracks.

Perhaps I'm just getting older or am I aging myself? In the midst of this remembering it's hard to say. Indeed it is hard to truly have a grasp at any point in one's life as to where one trully is. Only a supreme measurement and omniscient view could grasp with true accuracy the "place" on is at in life. Am I better or am I worse? Am I farther or closer? And to what goal anyways?

Most of us have settled in about my age, having created a measurement of ourselves based on our own memories of what is past. Based on what we can remember, we will place a marker as to how far we have come. Based on what we remember, we set a goal for what we hope to be. This is still lacking. Our memories are few and fleeting, liquid and fragile.

What's worse? Most of us can not remember a memory without any bad. The good can be abundant but is still mixed with sorrow, pain, loss, pride, lust, destruction, and sin.

So when I am remembering, I wonder of the place where it was only good. I remember the story written of a perfectly good world, before the memory of all but three. It was related to us by the only One with a perfect memory and to men who needed to know how far we have fallen, not grown. This memory of mankind's fall from goodness, described in Genesis, continues to hearld the truth of depravity like a beacon of light on top the highest mountain, shining into the darkest abyss of the ocean.

With His memory, I must keep mine alive. Without it, my memory is dead and will decay to meaningless events and facts. I will not see or understand good. And what can I say will be the end, if I cannot see the beginning? He, who sees the beginning and the end, who sees all time as memory and plan at once, He must guide my ways and my memories.

Lest I be like Israel, forgetting the God who saved them, and worshiping the things he gave them.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Longing For a Pure Water

Oh Father of all Living,

I am so thankful for the Living Water of which I taste
Your Holy Spirit refreshes my soul with His presence and His words
He enlivens the Word to be moving and flowing like a stream
They are good and so true, as they sting, poured over an open wound

With wounds caused by sin, thorns in my flesh, and trials of my soul
I often stray to seek wells with dirty water, sweetened with lies
This land wants for pure water and a place to lie down
I groan for other worlds, to find Living Water on Holy ground.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It Makes No Difference to Me (Gal 2:1-10)

Consistent ambivalence is a trait that I have practiced many days. It is easy to say "whatever", "it doesn't matter", or "it makes no difference to me". Most of the time this ambivalence is toward things truly not of great importance (e.g. dinner choices, 'who goes first'). Reading Paul's attitude in this passage shows me times when I should practice this more and differently!

As I posted earlier, Paul displays a divine example of not being a man-pleaser but a God-pleaser. His life had been turn 180 degrees from serving his selfish ambition of being better than others in his legalistic subculture to serving the God who had revealed the truth to him by a visual and personal meeting with Christ.

As a result, he no longer cared so much of what other "important" people thought of his message and lifestyle. He cared primarily of what God said to him and commanded of him. However, he now recounts going to Jerusalem now after 14 years of ministry to confer with Jerusalem Church leaders - John, James, and Peter.

At first glance, I was very confused on how I am to consider my fellow man and Christian in relation to my faith and practice. By God's command, Paul doesn't seek to be commended and affirmed by other men to preach the gospel. But now, by God's command, Paul seeks affirmation of his work in the gospel.

Was he having a mid-life crisis and pit of unbelief? No, but a God motivated and commanded caution from pride and self-deception. The same God who had gloriously "revealed" himself to him and commanded him to preach the gospel now commanded him "by revelation" to make sure he wasn't "running in vain". It was another submission to trust in God.

God used Paul as an example to not be the man-pleaser who looked for everyone's applause at his work in the Gospel. He was not making himself known or popular "to the churches of Judea" with the fact of his new message. He was not using the gospel or christianity as a new place to advance himself and praise himself. Instead, he humbly sought his churches nurturing and appointing (as was noted in a previous post and Acts 13:1-3) and circumspect evaluation of other leaders. God revealed to Paul his weakness and fallibility; he needed others to minister to him (like Paul desires of the Romans and the Philippians in other letters).

In other words, by God's grace, Paul avoids the pitfalls of pride from seeking man's praise and pride from not seeking fellow Christian's wise counsel.

It makes no difference to Paul what men claim to be or what men say of them. He is only concerned with the truthful spread of the Gospel and unity with those who are likewise. Everything else between men, makes little difference.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Am I in the place of God?

I stumbled upon some beautiful and magnificent words from Joseph at the end of the book of Genesis.

The question posed in my title is from Genesis 50:19. Joseph, his 10 older brothers, and extended family have just returned from a long and very emotional burial/memorial of their father Jacob. As anyone who has lost a important family member knows, these can often be very stressful times--questions over inheritance, questions over guilt and vindication of past wrongs, and many other uncertainties arise. It's very messy.

If you are familiar with the story of Joseph (if not it, is a wonderful read), Joseph is now second in command of the most powerful nation on earth, at that time, Egypt. He got there by numerous "misfortunes"; worst of all was the hateful betrayal of his brothers who sold him into slavery and pretended to their father that he had been eaten by wild beasts. Talk about drama! This is far worse than betrayal's my coworkers dwell upon when watching the Murray and Springer shows! It's just evil.

And his brother's know it! They come groveling before their younger brother, begging for forgiveness in the name of their dead father.

But now at the time of opportunity to have revenge, Joseph speaks simple but profound view of his life and his God. ""Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.(Gen 50:19-21)"

Most of the world would see such evil and encourage Joseph to some kind of retribution against his brothers. At least hold a grudge. The best counselors of the world may advise Joseph to work through his pain and eventually come to the conclusion that he is better then them and rose above his circumstances. His brothers would be either booed with great disdain or told they should learn to forgive themselves.

But Joseph sees himself humbly and takes his horrible circumstances as a planned gift from God. How could he not freely forgive? Although he is second in command over the known world, he is not God. How could he see himself above his circumstances or bitter to them? God, in absolute sovereign control, designed the brothers to wickedly betray him and sell him as a slave. It was not God's delight to have them sin against him but to bring out good by it--tremendous good! Thousands, perhaps millions, of people were saved from the destructive famine to come! His own family was preserved alive. How could he not humbly submit to this good God who allowed his brother's evil desires to bring about this salvation?

The problem of pain and suffering, evil and circumstance is met with a simple response in the form of Joseph's question: Am I God?

Who can argue with his humble question? It is beautiful theology...beautiful logic...beautiful truth.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Exegesis and Meditations on Gal 1:11-24

Finally getting back to Galatians and Paul's defense of the Gospel. It seems fitting, though it was never my plan to delay this exposition so long, that I should return to the subject after completing Church History 2 at the Southern Seminary. Paul's defense and focus on the Gospel is key in today's age of uncertainty about what it means to be a "Christian", what the Gospel is truly, and those issues in relation to "unity" among "Christians" who differ.

As I already explored earlier in Galatians, Paul is precisely direct about calling out the Galatian believers to take account for their treacherous attitude to the original and genuine Gospel message. These brothers were in danger of defecting to an enemy side and no longer holding to the message of truth and grace Paul Chiasticly expresses in his greeting (v.1-5). They would be joining ranks with those that Paul calls "cursed"--destined for destruction. In light of a plain and undiluted understanding of these proclamations of Paul, it is astonishing to hear prominent preachers speak of all people being accepted by "god" no matter what they believe, teach, or do in this life. But Paul clearly teaches what truth, what "gospel", you believe is very relevant.

Paul still being confident that these are his brothers, those whom Christ "gave deliver [them] from the present evil age" and false doctrines, gets to the heart of the matter. Who are you trully trying to please?

Paul puts himself forth as divinely crafted contrast to the false teachers who only want to "trouble you" and as he later says "desire to...boast in your flesh". He declares something very bold and, when taken as personal challenge, very terrifying. "If I were trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ!"

He reminds them that the gospel he is preaching was not his original message but was from a "revelation of Jesus Christ". His first message was one from his culture and tradition--Judaism. His life was passionately seeking to advance beyond his contemporaries. He was in a violent pursuit to please men and suppress the truth. Almost 100% of the time a man pleasing message and goals comes from tradition and worldly culture. Paul exemplified this problem.

But God had a greater plan for this desperately wicked man-pleaser; he gloriously revealed the risen Jesus Christ to him. He was the last one to see Him and the only biblically recorded man to see him after His ascension. He was charged with a message straight from God. His former conduct was to go back and check with Elders, dead traditions of Fathers. But now he trusted whole-heartedly in revelation of Christ and committed himself to it just as passionately. He dealt with the rejection, disbelief, persecution that came for teaching this truth and did not even consult with others for three years.

Not that he was a brazenly arrogant in his proclamation of this message. These first three years were spent in fellowship with the Lord and His Church; he was not a cavalier man but had a time of growth and learning--shaping. In fact, he did not began his "official" Church planting and missionary work until after visiting church leaders in Jerusalem and being identified by his local church in Antioch as some preaching the true revelation of Christ.

You may ask how is this later behavior different from his life as a zealous Jewish leader? The difference is the purpose, the focus. Is former goal was to be better then all the rest. His new goal was to only be known as the one for whom "they glorified God." He no longer sought self-praise but God praise. Thus he demonstrates, by God's amazing power and grace in him, a contrast with false teaching.

False teaching will always have at it's core selfishness, humanistic idolatry, and arrogance. All three of these are as insidious as false truth itself. They are black-holes that look like bright stars. They are theving liars cloaked as generous wise-men. How then do you see through it? Paul has already given the first pillar of foundation which is often long forgotten in our rationalistic and post-rationalism age: Revelation. But more on that later.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Longing for Revival

The History of the Church is messy but beautiful. God's handiwork is clearly seen through every page; though at times it may be hard to see with my sinful catacart spirtual eyes. (Oh for more faith to see! May God grant me grace to be healed again from blindness [Mark 8:22-25.]) I have yearned for a happening again of my God's mighty work in the world like that of the 18th century. When God's Holy Spirit revived thousands of dead souls who lay slain by empty doctrines of rationalism and passionless preaching. People were awakened by the preaching of the truth and authentic spiritual fruit. Our faults are not the same. We do not worship rationlistic deism or classical atheism as much as pluraistic spirtualism and practical atheism. Yet, all the worldly philosophies, though redefined, have the same perverted thesis. "My God shall be as I make Him and shall do I as please." We should still quickly respond to the words of the Apostle Paul as one who grasps for a hand in storm tossed sea: "...May we no longer be like children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried by every wind of doctrine..." (Eph 4:14). Would you be simply be driven by the storm to drown in the sea of human deciet and error? Would the Church continue to let one another and their neighbors do the same? This was the state of the church in England and America and mainland Europe during the 18th century. The Reformation had died off and so had the passion for guarding and preaching the truth in the love and powerful faith in Christ. Yet the Great Awakening began and it's fruits remained to bring about vitality in future resurgances of faith. It was not man contrived, outward but spiritual and inward. It was God breaking into a dead society and breathing life into dead men. But how will we have such when Man's universal sprititual deadness is explained away, ignored, or redefined to some partial goodness in all men? Or how will we call Men to faith when faith is a non-sensical leap into mystical knowledge? Or how will we men be convinced of any certain decision to new life Christ calls one too, when Christ is not the only one who can give "new life"? And how will we preach anything at all, when our theology is defined by personal experience and not a belief in supernatual revalatory truth? "I submit in prayer, God you will overcome the deceit of this world and the corruption in me. You who raised Jesus from the dead, will also give life to all of me. You who revived whole peoples before, please do this again. Renew us who faint for the passionate righteous preaching of your word, envigiour us who should preach the Word, delight all of your Church in seeking a sound and more perfect knowledge of you. That we would desire you as one desires a good relationship with one's parents or spouse. Please work again to show nations and peoples all over thew world that you will be justified in what you speak and blameless when you judge. May Jesus Christ our Lord be Praised."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Exegesis of Gal 1:6-9

The exposition of this passage is much more direct, like a one-two knock out. Paul begins his confrontation with great speed and forcefulness. My exegesis will be short for the sake of time and the flow of the passage

Every translation of the first sentence of this paragraph relates Paul's sarcastic surprise at the Galatians. Like all sarcasm, Paul is truthful and facetious. From my analysis, it appears he is truthfully concerned of the weight of their choices. He is also ridiculing that which they are choosing, namely the "other gospel". The gravity of the their choice is one of defecting to an enemy force. The word often translated "deserting" is also translated "to remove" or "to transfer allegiance." They are replacing one with the other, as if they were equal.

But Paul makes clear they are not equal. He calls this doctrine they are accepting in place of their first faith a "different" one, as one in a sequence. If you were counting different messages like T.V. channels, it is just one more out of the endless cable programing. It is a "different" gospel but it is not "another" one. When he says "not another" one, he is saying "not one of the same quality". I might tell you about many stones but very few will be of the same quality of the rare "Blue Heart" diamond.

The end purpose of those providing this alternative message to the Galatians is clear. They see an opportunity to take advantage of them like a street peddler. What they are peddling though is far worse than a man offering fake Rolex watches. They are peddling with life and death--eternity. They are like a voodoo doctor dressing up in White Coat and coming into the cancer wing of the hospital. They go up to everyone there and write discharge papers telling them they can be free of cancer if they sign up for their health plan.

Paul storms into this situation and gives a double curse upon these men. This curse is very controversial and I will not pretend to have considered every possible position. There are many words for curse in the bible and many consequences of such. This double curse seems to be the heaviest of those.

Many may think of curse, as that which is using a serious words in "unacceptable" statements or situations (e.g. "What the Hell?", "Damn it!", "Oh my God!", "Jesus Christ!"). The Bible addresses these in various ways that we will not go into. In general these would be curses of "making light" of important things, such as God's name. That's not what Paul is refering too. This is not a curse these men are uttering; they are being placed under a curse.

However, Paul is in a sense saying "Damn" those who give pretend to have another message from God. The curse is more liken to the one in Deut 27:18: "Cursed is the man who leads a blind man on[to] the road." It is a curse of consequence. It is the curse God gave to Adam and Eve as He cast them out of the garden to make their work difficult and their childbearing painful and their physical lives mortal. The accursed is destined for God's hand to be against him and, if never removed, to crush him.

What is scarier, this knock-out that Paul gives with repeating this curse twice is coming from God. God is the one who will "punch" these twisted men with a curse.