Sunday, November 20, 2011
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
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
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
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
Paul still being confident that these are his brothers, those whom Christ "gave himself...to deliver [them] from the present evil age" and false doctrines, gets to the heart of the matter. Who are you trully trying to please?
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
Thursday, February 17, 2011
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.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Paul reminds me here of the importance of authority and it's source. I will read news on yahoo or listen on NPR; often unwittingly, I submit to their authority, not considering their source. I assume that I can simply listen like a blank slate "humbly" taking no opinion but only gathering facts. This is rooted in default cultural assumptions of my world. But it is wrong.
The apostle makes it clear he is coming from specific place and with specific authority. He is not cleverly hiding what he claims; he is upfront with his authority in Christ. The reader is forced to grapple with this claim even after these verses when Paul claims the absoluteness of the message he had given them before (v. 6-9). This message is meant to free them from the wrong thinking and wrong living of "this present evil age". This was meant to free me from the wrong thinking of being a immobile island, not following anyone but being free to be the center of my own universe.
Often when I see such "authoritarianism", I expect to also see cruelty or pride. But Paul shows me also how to lead, with humble submission to his authority and with the goal of the benefit of those he holds authority over. He knows his authority is powerful in Christ but he only speaks in obedience to the one whom he serves. And his first act of service is to pass on a rich, gentle, and much needed blessing to his readers.
My family needs this kind of leadership. They need me to confidently accept who God made me to be as a husband and father. They need me to humbly serve them, seeking only their blessing, their freedom in Christ. I thank God for Paul reminding me of who I am and who God is.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I am scheduled to begin a class today. I begin with faith that God wants me to persevere in preparing for more full service to His Church. However, like many new adventures, I find myself anxious, seeking to search out my soul and establishing God's eternal way of life (Ps. 139:24; Matthew 7:13-14).
I also wonder how this will affect my new endeavor at blogging. I pray, for my family's sake, that I will continue storing up mediations on God's word and glory.
Well here goes the next 9 months
Friday, January 21, 2011
An apostle is by definition a person sent with an authoritative message. The distinction from an "angel" or "teacher" is the nature of authority. In some ways an apostle is an "angel" bringing a message from someone but the one one bringing it does not have authority to enforce or command (c.f. Matt 7:28-29; 1 Cor. 7:28; 2 Cor10:8; Eph. 4:11). You may consider the likeness that a prophet may have an enforceable word from God (2 Kings 17:1,7). An apostle does bring a prophetic word; even Peter referred to their messages and the scriptures written by them as prophecy (2Peter 1:19-21, 3:14-16). Apostles go beyond prophecy though to give official representation to their message from God; they are the authority to the message in God.
Paul expounds on the specifics of his apostolic authority with a rather straight forward few phrases. His authority does not come "from men"; this apostle was not sent from the realm of men. I work for AT&T and teach in my Church. I am man of both 'worlds' but I do not teach in church as being "from AT&T". Neither does Paul give his message as "from men".
Further he clears up that his authority is not being intrinsic to himself but through Jesus Christ and God the Father. More specifically the God who rose Christ from the dead to sit authoritatively at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33-35). This resurrection both vindicates Christ's authoritative claims and justifies Paul and all other Christians(Rom. 4:25). Paul speaks through an authority that no other god--let alone no other man--can claim.
We have reached the center of the Chaism as Paul addresses the Galatians. He redirects the stern focus on authority to a gentle blessing.
As is his pattern, Paul speaks grace and peace to the receipients. This he speaks to comes again from their mutual heavenly Father through the work of Jesus Christ. Specifically the sacrificial and substitutional work for their sins. This was the basis of their justification and reconciliation (Rom 4:25, 5:9-10) and consequentially for their deliverance from the dominion of sin they were under.
This great hope for their grace and peace is clearly declared to be of God's decreed purpose not just a desire of God. Paul makes it clear this "will of God" is God's purpose because of it being linked to the ultimate end of God's eternal praise and glory. This purpose God will surely not compromise (Is. 48:11). What great assurance and comfort the authority of this apostle can bring!
These few verses form a chaism with the focused phrase "to the churches of Galatia", in the middle. Paul book ends his opening to them with his authority firmly rooted in God's work through Christ and blessings firmly rooted in God's work for them in Christ. This microcosm will be a focal lens for much of the rest of the book study.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
For the end of being clear, I will try to present these in different posts and work to connect them well. This has never been easy for me to produce in a short period of time. In my present state and structure of life, that is all I will have each time. May God bless the efforts I make to store up these meditations for my family and "may your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children." (Ps. 90:16)
Saturday, January 15, 2011
In those I mostly often observe, I do not see open rebellion but subtle subterfuge. The later is usually more dangerous and harder to spot. For instance, Balaam of Peor in the Numbers 22-24, the sin is but a subtle few words of action missing.
When I was a child, I heard in Sunday school that this man was a horrible man. He had caused the children of God to sin and be greatly punished. However, when I read the story, I couldn't understand why God was angry with him. The first time Balaam approached God with the issue of needing to curse Israel for the king of Moab, God said clearly NO! Balaam obeyed and sent them away. When approached again Balaam seemed to be steady in heart to resist. "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more."
So what went wrong? Balaam came to God a second time and God almost seemed to change his mind. "If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you." So what do you expect Balaam got up and went but...the men didn't have to call him.
Balam reveals his heart's desire before God's authoritative test. There was no waiting in the morning to see if the men would broach the subject with Balaam first. Balaam got up and went without a question asked. All he needed was to hear "rise and go with them"; the rest was not important. He began his little rebellion in his heart, setting his ways against the Lord, against authority, and against himself.
God quickly set things in order much to the frustration of Balaam as he beat the donkey that constantly resisted his authorithy veering off the path, into a wall or just sitting down. However, no one will find injustice with a donkey who sought to save the life of his master from the judgement of an Angel standing in the way. How blind can we be when in rebelion to our masters to the obedience of our subordinates?
Though the subertfuge in Balaam's heart was never corrected, God did keep authority in place. He forced Balaam's mouth to speak the blessing of God to Israel, despite three attempts to entertain God's wrath upon them. See authority still stays in even when we attempt to overthrow it; it only changes. God prepared the use of Balaam's rebellion to stay at home to the end of blessing Israel all the more--even to the prophecy of the comming Christ, the eternal King.
As the Psalmist says "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain....He who sits in heaven laughs. (Ps. 2:1)" Do not become a laughing stock before God by clever attempts to resist Him. "No purpose of [God's] can be thwarted.(Job 42:2)" Instead submit yourselves under the almighty hand of God in ever detail.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Books, or more so what is contained in a book (aka thoughts), are a very powerful source. I never understood why Hitler would destroy thousands (possibly millions) of books during WWII but Hitler obviously new what I am learning now. Books are a gateway to changing a persons thoughts. No wonder why he didn't want people reading and it also explains as to why he target any intellectuals as well.
There are so many books out there today filled with thoughts, thoughts about God, sex, life, eating well, fashion, and each of those books may contain simularities within the same genre but ultimately every book also represents someone else's thoughts. And if one is good at articulating One person can literally shape what the next generation is going to think.
That's kind of scary to me because so many of us don't know how to think through things and we can often buy into the next "rational" line of thinking without a second opionion.
Should we stop reading then? well no, obviously not nor should we go and destroy every book that we don't agree with either but it definately challenges me to be careful as to what I am filling my head with. What ideas am I buying into that I may not even realize I am agreeing too. And all the more it makes me think how much more I need to be reading my Bible.
We can fill our heads with all kinds of books on spirituality and such but when it comes to picking up our bibles and filling our minds with scripture, well that is just so often too hard.
I have been convicted in this area latlely. Thankfully, i have a good friend that is challenging me and helping me stay commited to reading my Bible. but it has been all to easily, easy, for me to bypass the "good book" for a book that is good but not as good.
Not that I think we should just all read our bibles because that will fix all our problems, or that I think we need to check it off our list so that we can say we had been a "good little christian" for that day. But for the fact that I am realizing more and more that what we fill our minds with we will indeed percieve our lives and the lives around us through.
So then why not be filling our minds a little bit everyday with good truths. Why not remind ourselves a little every day of who are God is? Why not take a look at the past and try our best to learn from others mistakes?
One other thing, I'm not advocating that we stop reading other "spiritual" books all together just that we use them as my husband put it "to be a dialog along with our bible reading." I would hate to have all my bible knowledge be that from other books that are about the bible and not actually from my bible itself.
Lately I've been reading 1Samuel and let me tell you reading about Saul's sins has shown me a great deal of my own sin issues that I need to work on. Not that I am going around trying to kill a blameless man, but I will admit that there was a time when I read about Saul and was like "You dummy, how can you keep running away from God's plans." and Now I'm kind of like "Sara, you dummy, why do you try to keep running away from God's plans." interesting.
I've also been reading through the psalms, mostly i tend to pick a Psalm at random but each psalm is unique while being sure to point out a characteristic or charateristic(S) of the the Lord... How much my prayer life has changed by just reading another's simple prayer ever day. It makes me want to pray my own prayer every day.
Something has begun to change in me this Month, it's like I have a faith again, that honestly believes that God can do anything, that he really is powerful, that he really is in control and I am seeking and yearning and eagerly waiting to watch what wonderful, majestic thing he does in my daily life, even if that is 'just' giving me a little piece of fresh air and encouragment.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Now if I constructed a limited context for my discourse, then I perhaps would only have needs to narrow my topics. Before I wrote this blog for medium-rare commentary on Biblical exegesis. My study has been greatly diminuted since the inception of this blog. I mostly read without stopping to dive into details. Mental tools for carefully and rightly interpreting fine points of the word have become rusty and dusty.
But it is good to look at the Future. "The only life I have left to live is the future. The past is not in my hands to offer or alter. It is gone." Endeavors to produce articles on this blog must now rest in the hands of God's active grace. Then I will if it please Him, allow me to both consider in a limited context the treasures and workings of truth.
My limited context then will be what God has given me in relational life--my wife, my children, and my immediate friends.