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Friday, August 31, 2012

Two Evidences?

Our oldest son recently took me on an excursion to show me a back-woods trail that goes around the lake here on the campus of Columbia International University. While I instantly began planning how to incorporate this trail into my workout regimen, I was delighted by the sights, sounds and smells of the woods. I ran the trail it for the first time yesterday and though it was the most challenging track I’ve taken yet, I am most delighted that I don’t have to choke on the traffic exhaust as I usually run along the road.

I spoke with a friend recently about the trail and he discouraged using it because of the stones, spider webs and branches. When I ran it yesterday, for the first time in my life, I’ve never been so delighted to run head-on through a spider web. Instead of being repulsed (I loathe bugs), I was awed how all creation moves in a cosmic dance according to the design and to the delight of the Creator: the lights and shadows of the woods; the variant temperatures and humidity at various elevations; the range of smells introduced by various animals whose footprints are everywhere on the high places; the colors and textures; the view of the valleys and thunderheads billowing floating seas overhead.

This experience has been coupled with a realization that those who trust their Creator, holding forth that all things have a personal beginning and those who do not trust their Creator, holding forth that all things have always existed with no personal beginning and develop through evolutionary processes: both groups have the same evidence. The evolutionary scientist has no more evidence than the creation scientist. The most crucial difference between the two rests on the starting point: the evolutionist begins and ends with the evidence itself while the creationist begins with the personal source of the evidence.

Listen carefully to Bill Nye, the Science Guy talk about the two worldviews where he concludes “In another couple of centuries that worldview [Creation], I’m sure will be . . . just won’t exist. There’s no evidence for it.”



First, Mr. Nye's comment is a mere echo of statements that have been made for centuries (that Christianity will not last, in this case, "creationism" specifically). The evidence of Christianity's longevity speaks otherwise (just ask Voltaire). Second, “evidence” is not so easily removed. We are not discussion two different evidences. We are down to interpretations of the evidence from two viewpoints, or worldviews. There must be another viewpoint, otherwise Neil Armstrong could not have taken this picture from the Eagle Lunar Module.

[I wonder how many scientist are frustrated over the many things they cannot recreate in the lab, for the sake of science?]

Often we think of evidence as that which is left at a crime scene. If we remove the personal source, then Colonel Mustard could not have been in the Library with the pistol. The murder "just happened." Consider the implications: every criminal should go free because crimes just happen out of nowhere, out of nothing. Besides, who has the right to demand accountability?

I am honestly curious: If you hold the evolutionary theory, how do you enjoy your environment knowing that nature is against the weak? Also, what is your relationship with anything you have made?

Running up and down steep hills is not high on my list of enjoyment, but the journey is exhilarating. Slogging up into the quite woods and pumping fresh air in and out of my lungs is most enjoyable because I know these things point to our Creator, who loves us.

. . . turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without a witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15-17)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Randoms

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Family Addition

We are please to announce the unexpected arrival of a new family member. After 20 years, God has replaced a long-lost love into our lives. Meet "Elizabeth." She was delivered as a surprise gift just yesterday. I walked into my office from lunch, and there she was with a note: "to the glory of God." Yes, she is . . . and she's fully equipped. So incredibly thankful for this blessing. It goes beyond words to express. Isn't she beautiful? You should hear her sing . . .


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Randoms: The Great Watermelon Debate (Special Edition)

Apparently, I've been eating watermelon the wrong way. How about you?

Tom says to eat it this way:



Petey says eat it that way:



Which is your preference?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Start At The End?

You know that moment somewhere between “asleep” and “awake” when you have the feeling you suddenly understand life, the Universe and everything? I have an idea about that moment, and am interested in your thoughts if you will follow me: but first . . .

When does your day begin? Midnight? Sunrise? Sundown? I’ve been pondering the Jewish concept of the day beginning at sundown and wonder if there is a simple basic principle that the follower of Christ and lover of God should examine and put into practice.

Why say we start the day when the sun goes down? If we did not have electricity, sundown would be the time we clean up and go to bed. Presently we extend our bedding down until much, much later in the evening, but we still sleep at night (then complain about how little sleep we get). How does a day begin when we are not active? Our day begins in the light, with activity which carries on until the sun goes down at which time our day ends.

We lay down to sleep and we are most vulnerable and I think this is the point. What better way to start the day than with the physical action of literally placing our entire being in God’s hands? Our day begins with faith in God while we position ourselves to be perfectly defenseless for a few hours. Think about this when you say “bedtime prayers!”

J.C. Ryle instructs, "speak with God in the morning, before you speak with the world; and speak with God at night, after you have done with the world."

Now to my initial question: you know that moment somewhere between “asleep” and “awake” when you have the feeling you suddenly understand life, the Universe and everything? How does Psalm 16 help us grasp the significance of that moment (note specifically verse 7)? What insight do you gain from Psalm 121?

Furthermore, consider what starting the day with sundown does for our awakening. God has been active all night and now we are rejuvenated that we may join Him in what He has already been doing! We can enter the light of day with joyful thanksgiving to God for what He has done while we sleep!

Some liken this to individual life itself: from the darkness of the womb we enter light and life as we journey to the tomb, on the other side of which dawns a new day of eternal life.

It makes sense that the start of the day is “evening and morning”; that is, a new day begins when stars appear. But when does the day end? One might argue that the day ends when another begins, at sundown. The way I see it (and I could be wrong): the day never ends. The next day just begins because God never slumbers nor does He sleep.

I close with an extended quote from G.K. Chesterton's mighty work called "Orthodoxy":

"The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life.

The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that the specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grownup person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grownup people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

It is possible that God says every morning ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.  It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy . . . The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore . . . Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant may stop.  Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance."

The Beatles Last Shoot

"On this day in 1969, two days after their final recording session, the Beatles gathered at Tittenhurst Park, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono resided, for a photo shoot they didn’t realize would be their last."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Defective Repentance

I spoke with a woman was told me she could not wait to get to heaven because she would see her mother there. The woman explained her excitement further: her mother had been an atheist all her life, but now she was enjoying the presence of God in heaven! Really?

Time after time I’ve heard people speak of the forgiveness and grace of God as if were automatic, as if God was obligated. Are mercy, grace and forgiveness part of the package deal of life simply because God knows we are sinners? Does God owe anyone forgiveness simply because they repent? People tell me, “I repent all the time! God just forgives!” He does?

Let’s think about David for a moment. Most people remember him for killing Goliath, the champion of invaders. David is also known for murdering a man and taking his wife. He later repented and was granted forgiveness and we have evidence of this in a few places in scripture, namely Psalm 51: David cries out, God responds. That settles it, right?

Hebrews 12:16-17 (from the Greek) makes a curious statement regarding Esau, “who in exchange for one meal sold the birthright of himself. For you know that also afterwards wanting to inherit the blessing he was rejected, for a place of repentance he did not find, although with tears having sought it.” Esau was in possession of every blessing of the firstborn, but he sold it and was embittered. We learn that Esau wanted back what he sold but was denied; further, “a place of repentance he did not find.” He was most very, deeply sorry for what he had done, but could not gain it back no matter how heartbroken he was.

Consider this: we make mistakes. Let’s use the biblical word: sin. We are sinners and as such, we face consequences. This is one point of Esau’s record. Another point is this: repentance does not remove the consequences. Sin brings death. Someone must die. Since Christ paid that penalty for us on the cross, then rose again, why would anyone want to keep what they have now and not take what is being offered that brings life for eternity?

Esau shed tears because he wanted the blessing but the truth remained that he cared nothing for it nor the giver of it. Though we cry out for forgiveness, do we want anything to do with the one who grants it? Are you able to enjoy the divine giver of grace and mercy forever? Are you willing to let bitterness against God die?

David’s prayer in Psalm 51 reveals no bitterness against God or anyone else. David’s prayer shows a man who is honest and broken to say he prefers the blessing-giver over the blessing. He was the king! What more could he want? He wanted God Himself and nothing between the two of them.

Like Esau, we are without the ability to materialize the desires of our hearts by the strength of our will. We make God do nothing. If we prefer to pursue and satisfy the hunger of our sin in exchange for reconciliation with God there is no place of repentance in us, no brokenness before Him that results from true sorrow. If we have no desire to be free from the power of sin, God will not grant the ability to escape so much as the penalty of the same.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Randoms


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kingdom Man: Greatness

You know the word “mega,” so you know the Greek for “great.” The range of meaning is broad enough to make one slow down and think about what it means to be a “great man.” The word (“mega”) is an adjective and thanks to School House Rock, we know that adjectives are words that are used to describe things. So what is meant when Jesus says, “but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” in Matthew 20:26?

The options for the adjective include:

  • Massive; weighty; large; spacious. Some of us are already great in this regard. 
  • Measure; height. I am not a great man in that regard, either. I look up to my youngest son (which is quite bothersome). 
  • Stature and Age. I grow greater every year! 
  • Number, quantity. I don’t see how I can be a great man unless I clone, which is highly unlikely. 
  • Intensity. While often violent, aggressive men are great, this is not ideal.

I am not convinced these nuances were what our Lord had in mind.

What about rank?

  • Of persons, one may be great by virtue of position (my boss is a great man) 
  • Of things, one may be of great importance (gas is great for my car) or highly esteemed, or excellent (which my car is not). 
  • A person or thing may be great in terms of stateliness, or scale, such as a mountain.

Not quite there. There is one final category that relates to God’s blessing:

  • On one hand, there is a kind of greatness that oversteps boundaries, being full of arrogance and derogatory such as Hitler, who may be considered to be “great.” 
  • On the other hand, there is the one who receives the blessing of God.

Ah. There it is. This is the great man described in Matthew 20 and chapter 5. The great man is the one who is blessed, receiving the direct approval of God as he walks in obedience.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kingdom Man: Rule

Man, the crown of God’s creation, is God’s representative on earth. As such man is to have dominion over creation; however, since man’s relationship with God was broken by sin, the dominion of man (i.e., his “rule”) is altered. For example, God gave every tree of the garden (with one exception) as prepared food. Since man sinned and his ruler is changed, man must now prepare his own food (see Genesis 3:17-19).

One aspect of man’s rulership is problematic for many because the woman is told, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16) Presupposition concerning what it means for man to rule wrecks the text; but, it also proves the point.

First, notice that childbirth was already painful. Since the fall, the pain will be multiplied.

Second, the desire of a man’s wife is for her husband. The weight of the Hebrew is less-nice. Kiel and Delitzch help us out with “run after with violent craving for her husband.” Think: “desire bordering on disease.”

Here is the tough part: “he shall rule over you.” What does that mean? If man is to rule over creation, is man to treat his woman like a cow or a field? Hardly. “Rule” here does not mean the woman has no say-so. The word includes the sense of protection against her own hurt. Consider Numbers 30:6-8:

“If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the LORD will forgive her.”

Another way of understanding this meaning is to return to the old definition of “rule,” which means “to set a pattern.” He is to be a guide, provide direction—which means the man must know the standard or which direction in which to go.

I can’t help but think of a strange event that occurred in the life of Abram and his wife, Sarai (see Genesis 12). A famine drove this couple into Egypt and while there, Abram sensed an upcoming problem (his wife was a beautiful woman). He instructed her that if anyone should ask, to say that she is Abram’s sister (in other words: lie). Sure enough, Pharaoh caught the news of this beautiful woman in town and took her into his own house and treated Abram well by lavishing him with treasures. Then something happened: “the LORD struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.” (Genesis 12:17). Needless to say, Pharaoh’s men sent them away.

While I can’t help but notice the foreshadowing of plagues on the Big House (which is the literal translation of “Pharaoh”—future generations: beware!), this is not the only point of the passage. Abram provided unwise direction to his wife. Instead of guiding her in truth, they conspired in a lie (I believe their being “sent away” was an understatement—**wink, wink**).

When a man is walking in fellowship with the Lord, he saturates Himself in truth. When the man guides his wife (who, incidentally is burning for him), he cleanses her by washing with the Word (Ephesians 5:25-33). The rule of man over his wife is not ham-fisted bullying, but discipleship built on mutual trust of each other in the Lord.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kingdom Man: Made for More

I believe I can safely say that each time we play “Build Your Kingdom” by Rend Collective Experiment on our Calvary Chapel Blythewood praise team, I must burn about 100 calories. I don’t know how much our percussionist burns, but we may have a great weight loss program here in our praise music! One line in the song says, “You’ve made us for much more than this; awake the Kingdom seed in us.” This is where I would like to focus for a moment: we are made for more than we think; but, first consider this sign:

What is the right way to read? While much could be said here, just think for a moment about how you feel when you read? Do you feel anything? You should. Reading with sensitivity helps shed light on the meaning of text. Perhaps this is one reason some feel reading the Bible is difficult: they read without feeling. I find it difficult to read Psalm 8 without attention to feeling. This psalm is the epitome of awe. Ask me what “awe” means, and I will bring you here. Why? The reasons are manifold, but here is one:

Take yourself outside at night in a place with little or no light pollution and look up (and it’s difficult to look up at the night sky with your mouth closed). Survey all you see from the top of a high place (any mountain or building will do). Stand on the beach and note how far you see before your eyes gaze over the edge of the planet into space—try to imagine everything you don’t see under the water. It’s all quite amazing, when you try to wrap your brain around it all. Interestingly, this becomes the point: we (humans) are the crown of God’s creation. Words just don’t communicate what this means, hence we need the experience to understand it.

I’ll toss this in here: structurally, everything the Psalmist says in Psalm 8 filters down and away from this one point. If you were to draw a picture of the flow of thought in this psalm, you would get an hour-glass with the finest point being verses 4-5. Do you see yourself there? The crown of God’s creation?

Then the Psalmist says that man is created “a little lower than elohim” (that’s the Hebrew word for God). What is meant here is that man, the crown of God’s creation is (literally) “in need of God.” What becomes significant here is that man is said to be crowned with glory and majesty. How can this be if God says He shares His glory with no-one (Isaiah 42:8)? The answer to the question actually lies in Psalm 21. I don’t want to do your thinking for you, so permit to help you discover the answer: What is the crown of gold God sets on the head?

How does God make His glory known? What does He share with man that reveals His glory? This is important because while mankind is the crown of God’s creation, we are only His children by virtue of Creation. We need God as a spiritual Father, hence we need His salvation to receive the full blessing through restoration of relationship with Him. Only then can we be what God intends. We are made for so much more than we are and we will never be more until we find life in salvation and are crowned with glory that honors Him!

Friday, August 10, 2012

"God Has No Dumb Children"

There is no better way to summarize J.C. Ryle’s 28 page tract, “A Call to Prayer” than with this remarkable sentence found in the second section of this monumental tract: “God has no dumb children.” Divided into nine sections, Ryle centers the subject concerning prayer on Paul’s comment to Timothy, “I will that men pray everywhere” (1 Timothy 2:1) and keeps one question ever before the reader’s eye: “Do you pray?”

Ryle begins with “Prayer is Needful to a Man’s Salvation.” Here we first encounter the question, “Do you pray?” with the understanding that “whether you pray in private or not is a matter between yourself and God.” Prayer is the way one asks of God, regardless of geography, education or physical condition—and every person is responsible to pray.

Ryle identifies those who pray as children of God, and “God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry.” Those who do not pray prove themselves to be unfeeling of sin; out of love for God; no debtor to Christ; without longing for holiness or heaven. “A man seldom goes into his closet and pours out his soul before God in secret unless he is in earnest.”

“The Most Neglected Duty” of prayer exists in a world abounding in religious profession. Of all the activities that fill the day, there is no transaction between soul and God. “They behave like creatures without souls. They have not one word to say to him in whose hand are their life and breath . . .” There are those who use the form of prayer, but this is all they are doing: using a form, saying words without heart. Ryle gives four reasons why men do not pray: prayer is not natural nor is it fashionable; there is no separation from sin; there has never been a proper introduction to God. His details are most compelling.

The fourth section, “Prayer Produces Great Encouragement” is built on the readiness of God to make prayer easy: first, He makes a way for us to draw near in Jesus Christ; He provides an Advocate and Intercessor in Jesus Christ, our High Priest; He assists by the Holy Spirit. God grants magnificent promises to those who pray! “The Secret of Holiness” is “Diligence in Prayer” and this diligence is the “immense interval between the foremost and the hindermost in the army of God.” Why is there a difference? Why are some spiritually stronger than others? These questions are answered by observing those who pray little and those who pray much. Ryle explains: “ . . . when a man is once converted to God, his progress in holiness will be much in accordance with his own diligence in the use of God’s appointed means. And I assert confidently that the principle means by which most believers have become great in the church of Christ is the habit of diligent private prayer.” Prayer is powerful because the Holy Spirit is constantly flowing, a bulwark against sin, the flesh and the devil. “That sin will never stand firm which is heartily prayed against.”

Ryle again presents his central question with the view to help the reader discover the cause of backsliding: the neglect of private prayer. “You may be sure men fall in private long before they fall in public. They are backsliders on their knees long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world . . . The world takes notice of their fall, and scoffs loudly. But the world knows nothing of the real reason.” Prayer is the means for happiness and contentment as we take everything to God in prayer. Our friend is Jesus who must be trusted when we call on Him. He lightens our load. “Do you pray?”

Ryle concludes his tract with “Advice to the Unsaved.” First, there is no excuse to say “you know not how to pray,” as this is “the simplest act in all religion.” There is no excuse to say “there is no place to pray.” How can this be if one can find a place in which to sin, even secretly? There is no excuse to say “you have no time” or that you must wait until you have faith. The new heart does not come apart from prayer! If you desire salvation, you will pray—without doubt!

Saints, be encouraged. “I believe we are very poor judges of the goodness of our prayers, and that they prayer which pleases use least, often pleases God most.” Pray with reverence and humility, in the Spirit. Prayer should be regular practice, the business of life. Prayer with earnest, in faith, with boldness. Ask of God, fully and particularly. Intercede for others, with thanksgiving and watchfulness.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Randoms

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Authority

Permit me to say first that I already know what my problem is: I over-think.  While this may not seem like much to you, it is to me. I just want to make certain I have it right, that’s all.

Been thinking about “authority” lately and am spending much more time on the subject than I would have liked. Asking too many questions, chasing too many rabbits. For example: “why authority?” Answer: because at this time, the subject interests me. And so on.

What is “authority?” Well, the 12th century French noun “auctorite” was synonymous with “The Scriptures” though in a broader sense the term became used to describe that which settled an argument. The French word comes from the Latin “auctoritas” referring to the “master, leader” or as we say, “author.”  I begin here because frankly, present definitions seem woefully short. I find this is true when language and meaning paradigms shift. I also feel this is dishonest, to shift meaning.

The consensus seems to be that authority is that which has the right and/or power, or simply “whoever is in charge”. Perhaps this is part of the problem concerning reactions to authority: individuals would rather be in charge, so they rebel against objective authority.  Specifically individuals cast off objective authority because there is an inherent or understood relationship that involves the word “obedience.” In other words, the one who has authority hold the right and/or power to expect/demand obedience. And who wants to obey? This is exposes a very telling feature concerning authority: there is an objective and a subjective authority; that is, an internal and external authority. Anarchy is when the internal clashes against the external.

Consider what this looks like for the theologian who calls himself an atheist: one has a subjective, internal concept of God that is not compatible with the objective reality.  The one would rather not submit to the other—which makes as much as sense as the shadow being called the form which is casting it.

God is Creator and has such holds the right and/or power as Creator; therefore, all Creation stands in relationship to His authority. This relationship may be shaped by a response or a reaction. One may not feel obligated to acknowledge God, thus reacting and consequently rejecting God’s right and power as Creator but this does not change the fact that He is Creator.

“Authority” is the bottom line where every issue is settled absolutely.  God is the bottom line, so that settles every issue. We must respond to this reality, or thrive in anarchy receiving the wages for our autonomy.

Education apart from authority is literally a flock without a shepherd (the Russian proverbs says, “Without a shepherd sheep are not a flock”).  There is no “leading out” but meandering about, exposed and vulnerable to uncontested ideas that will not stand.

What is “art” without authority? How could there be skill resulting from practice or learning? No poet or writer could say he was an “author.” God, who Created, made us in His image—to be creative; that is, manipulate within the environment He has provided, a skilled expression of that which lies within.
Law and Order without authority is, as mentioned already, anarchy. Cast off authority and lose your right to report a crime against yourself. One must let the criminal go without penalty.

Christian truth is grounded on authority. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) contested by saying that faith is not grounded on authority, but he could only say this confidence (literally “with faith”) based on his personal authority, thus contradicting himself. Similarly, the anarchist Mihail Bakunin (1814-1876) split himself when he wrote “all temporal and human power proceeds directly from spiritual or divine authority” followed by “God, or rather the fiction of God is thus the sanction and the intellectual and moral cause of all the slavery on earth, and the liberty of men will not be complete unless it will have completely annihilated the inauspicious fiction of a heavenly master.” (Oeuvers, Vol. 1). One cannot authoritatively cast off authority.

Followers of Christ are grounded on the rock-bed of personable authority. Note: not “personal” but “personable” authority. This means the objective holder of authority freely receives the right response of worship as opposed to the misguided riot of rebellion. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Prayer of St. Francis: An Examination

THE FIRST HALF

Why we call this “St. Francis’ Prayer” or “The Prayer of St. Francis” is not clear to me as the good saint was not the author. Perhaps the prayer came to be known as such due to the Franciscan-sounding principles. Regardless, this is a fine prayer (if a prayer could be called “fine”).

“Lord, make me an instrument”

This is actually the first of two petitions, the second begin later in the prayer: “O Divine Master, grant that I . . .” Such weighty words like Hamlet’s question that make us pause as we consider who we are and who we are not. He is the Lord, our Creator and Sovereign. He is the Divine Master, as we will see later in the prayer.

The Lord is Master and I am not. As we are born into this fallen state, we are not much use even to ourselves. The prayer begins by returning to the Creator that He make take what He has fashioned in our mother’s wombs and go a step further: make me more than I am. Make me fit for the Master’s use. “Instrument” here may conjure a wide range of mental pictures: musical (string, wind, percussive, etc); mechanical (machine or that which is used for maintenance); medicinal (optical, dental, surgical etc); scientific (laboratory, measuring, quantum, weather, etc) and etc. Whatever the form, and instrument is a tool, an apparatus or device used to accomplish a task. What is that task? The glory of He who wields it.

“Your Peace.”

Rightly used by God, peace is a facet of the gem of His glory. Peace means there is no enmity between God and men as well as between men. The first part of the prayer requests God to use me as the means by which He accomplishes His peace in others. The second part of the prayer (which we will see) requests God to achieve peace in self, with God as the object. “Full circle,” as they say.

“Let me sow”

May God fashion us in such a way that we drop seeds that bloom into spiritual fruit according to His purpose. We have a garden to tend, such is man’s mandate from the beginning. We would be a plow, turning under the weeds and preparing the ground of men’s souls to do what they should: glorify God as we live out the expectation of “imago dei.” We would also be the broadcaster of that which He gives us to give out in the world. The seeds we are to sow are love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy.

Where are we to cast our seed but in the places where grows hatred, injury, doubt, despair, darkness and sadness. As before: the ground must be prepared then oversown then cultivated so those weeds grow not again. The fruit of God’s Spirit must give no place for the fruit of the flesh to prosper. “Peace on earth” begins with God as Lord and Divine Master.

THE SECOND HALF

This portion opens in the same position as the first: humble under the rule of the Lord, the Divine Master. The prayer here takes on uncommon characteristics because the request concerns the one who prays but for one’s neighbor first.  What does one want but that God should use “me” to be the giver of consolation, understanding, love and pardoning? As one is the vessel of these graces, may one also be the recipient of them through the obedience of someone else who places themselves in the same place of humble service. There is a balance, which eliminates selfish accumulation of these graces.

“And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

This is perhaps the most unusual feature of this prayer because it concerns one person only. Death, though commonly shared among all, can only be experienced individually. One may think this to be “key” to the prayer in the sense that in order to be used by God, one must die to self and be made alive in Christ. This is first accomplished by repentance by faith in the finished work of Christ, then continues as one constantly puts to death the "old man." Here's what is meant: 

There are times when I would rather hate, injure, doubt, despair,  cover in dark, wallow in sadness, but when in this state I can be no instrument for God’s use.

There are times when I would like to be consoled, understood, loved, lavished upon, pardoned; yet, when I do not these things to others, my motives are self-serving and this is not the abundant life God would have for us. 

Monday, August 06, 2012

Quoting Shakespeare

"If you cannot understand my argument, and declare ``It's Greek to me'', you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger; if your wish is farther to the thought; if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise -why, be that as it may, the more fool you , for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then - to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - by Jove! O Lord! Tut tut! For goodness' sake! What the dickens! But me no buts! - it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare."  (Bernard Levin)

Friday, August 03, 2012

John Piper on Abiding in Christ and Reading

"Read great Christian writers who know God deeply and saturate their writing with the Bible and take you deep into its spirit. They are like reading the Bible through the mind and heart of great knowers and lovers of God. Don't let long books daunt you. Finishing the book does not matter. Growing by it matters. But finishing is not as hard as you might think.

Suppose you read slowly like I do—about the same speed as you speak—200 words a minute. If you read 15 minutes a day for one year (just 15 minutes, say just before supper, or just before bed), you will read 5,475 minutes in the year. Multiply that by 200 words a minute and you get 1,095,000 words that you would read in a year. Now the average book has about 360 words per page (that's what Carson's book has). So you would have read 360 words into 1,095,000, or 3,041 pages in one year. That's 13 books the size of Carson's book, or reading his in 21 days. All that in 15 minutes a day.

The point is: the words of Jesus will abide in you more deeply and more powerfully if you give yourself to some serious reading of great books that are saturated with Scripture."

(From "If My Words Abide in You")

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Randoms


  • "Why Batman Doesn't Know Jesus." The answer is worth consideration.


  • "Alleged Samson seal found at Beth Shemesh" Click on the link to see a photo of the tiny find. Discuss: what are your thoughts concerning the remarks made by the excavation directors? Leave comments below (please follow standard rules of acceptable discussion, keeping on topic).


  • Bible teachers may appreciate these NASA photos.


  • Assessing children’s bibles is not child’s play. The relationships between them, the Bible, and their readers are complicated, yet because we too easily see them as simple and trustworthy, we have not learned how to read them carefully or critically enough." Read more here at  "How Story Bibles Work."


  • 5 Surprising Reasons Expository Preaching Makes Sermon Preparation Easy


  • 10 Civilizations That Disappeared Under Mysterious Circumstances


  • President Obama’s infamous 'You didn’t build that gaffe' may have originated from a little-read 2004 book titled “Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives.”


  • Right wrong? 


  • Wednesday, August 01, 2012

    CIU President Bill Jones Contributes to New Study Bible

    "Columbia International University President Dr. Bill Jones is a contributor to a new study Bible that encourages believers to live their daily lives as if they are on a mission - the mission of God.
    “The Mission of God Study Bible” published by B&H Publishing Group, is interspersed with essays by dozens of Christian leaders, thinkers and theologians who challenge readers to consider that wherever they are, they are on the mission of sharing the good news of what God has done through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus."

    The essay by Jones titled “Developing Missional Leaders” is appropriately found at chapter four of Ephesians.

    Read more on"The Mission of God Study Bible" here.

    Wit and Wisdom

    "Wisdom is shown in serious matters, and is more appreciated than mere wit. He that is always ready for jests is never ready for serious things. They resemble liars in that men never believe either, always expecting a lie in one, a joke in the other. One never knows when you speak with judgment, which is the same as if you had none. A continual jest soon loses all zest. Many get the repute of being witty, but thereby lose the credit of being sensible. Jest has its little hour, seriousness should have all the rest."

    (Balthazar Gracian, 1601-0658)

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