October 31, 2008
I also realize that this is a special month, I will never be in this position again. There is no way I am going to do over 100 posts in November and you can just forget over 200 in December. Don't even think about what I would have to do in 2009.
I have reached a law of large numbers of sorts as it pertains to this blog. I cannot have exponential sort of growth in my posting activity anymore (Check my archive list for the ramp up since I started late June) Any large scale growth will have to be in visitors, page views and stuff like feed links which I have no real control over as a blogger.
So I ask myself if the growth in the frequency of blogging is due to familiarity, confidence, arrogance. Is it due to the seeking of fame and the dreaming of fortune, none of which has or is likely to happen.
Am I doing it to hear myself be read, or do I really believe I have something worth writing that others find worth reading. Am I an encouragement to others or a growing blight on the blogosphere?
I have always felt that blogging can lead to behavior that is solipsistic in nature. The fact that I used a word like that is an indication of the solipsistic nature of my own behavior. I just hope I used it right both times.
I am taking this post as a reminder not to take myself too seriously, to write from the heart and soul as much as from the head going forward. And to not make this a numbers game in any sense, whether it is who reads this, who comments or how often I write. Quality not quantity needs to be of paramount importance. I realize I can only be true to my blogging if it reflects who I am, and talks about things inside and just not on the surface.
I will see how I do, and maybe you all will remind me from time to time.
I pray I remember the rules. I pray I remember to play. I have no idea
what I will do with any points that accrue to and on my account.
It will be interesting to see if this inspires me to write for my blog,
whether the posts become longer and/or deeper as a result. Or if I will
just skim along the surface as I have been pretty much been doing since
the end of June.
In any event, it will be a focus and a discipline brought to my blogging that I have not had before, so I thank Caffeinated Thoughts for setting that up.
Let's see what the month of November has in store for me. Let's see if I am still blogging at the end of it.
For those of you who blog, I hope you have noticed the Bloggers Unite badge for their November 10th event near the top of the page on the right. I hope you post in it as well.
I start with a men's small group at 6:15am (I know, it is a holdover form my working days, but it is a good group of guys to study and fellowship with. Plus I lead the group which makes it real hard not to attend on a regular basis). The rest of the day is reading, homework, errands and relaxing. Maybe a breakfast or lunch with someone, maybe an early weekend date with my wife.
Generally a productive day in a very relaxing sort of way. Tonight, my small group will be running a bounce house at 121 Community Church's Trunk or Treat. Come by between 6:30 to 8:30 pm with the kids for games, candy and bounce house activity if you are in the area.
I enjoy Fridays thoroughly these days. I used to like them because they meant the end of the workweek was coming up soon. But I enjoy them now for the deeper study they allow me to do, the time I get to spend with friends or my wife, the relaxation at the beginning of a long weekend. Relaxing but yet I am ready to dive into any projects I have lined up with more energy and desire than I used to be able to show in the past.
And I feel I have gotten so much more useful stuff done on Fridays that I have ever done before. All in all, a good way to start a long weekend.
This is a continuation of my reflections on my new week, with yesterday being here.
October 30, 2008
I've read some good posts this evening, here are three new posts (there are others I read and consider as blog friends, but I didn't get to them or they didn't post tonight) I have read just read:
A Boomer in the Pew-Crushed in the Mortar and Pestle of God's Sovereign Will
who am I?-Is single issue voting reasonable or not?
Caffeinated Thoughts-The Sad Born Alive Truth
I consider these guys my friends although I have never met them face to face, but only through blogging, which led to Facebook connection as well. People I would never have known anything about except for this sometimes self absorbing activity of blogging. But it isn't always self absorbing, i have met people who make me better with them as friends than without.
My problem becomes that I follow so many good blogs i do have trouble keeping up with them. Well guys, I read you and enjoyed you very much tonight, thanks. For the times I do not give you the attention you deserve, I apologize (I am the social mediot after all). To the others, I apologize as well. You are all enriching my mind and my life.
I go off to classes shortly and this is the end of my school week. This makes Thursday the new Friday as when I finish my last class, I will be in weekend mode a day earlier than most. It is a very nice feeling. I remember how much I enjoyed those 3 or 4 day weekends due to holidays or vacation time that I sometimes had when I was working. It is a great feeling of relaxation and liberation. Now I get to feel that way every week.
It is not a feeling I am growing tired of, it is one that I appreciate a little more each week. It is a feeling of release that now comes out of my new weekly order. And the best part about it is that I now go into the weekends charged up and ready to do other stuff instead of limping in hoping to get charged up for another work week. I bring energy into the week end as opposed to looking to draw energy out of it. I come out the other side ready to go at another week, not just feeling partially recharged for another battle.
Is it due to my walk with Jesus? Well, yes it is but I was walking with Him before. But unlike now, I was walking but talking too much during that time with Him. Now I am walking and listening to the quiet comfort and wisdom He chooses to bless me with. I do not feel I am more of a Christian now, but I am clearly more reflective about my relationship with my Lord than I was a year ago.
It fits in with the new perception of time I developed after retirement that I talked about in this post.
No longer measuring and tabulating time, but flowing with it, looking for His direction and guidance. I have to watch the clock more now than a few months ago, I am at school and have to be certain places at certain times. But I am getting things done, not just getting through things.
It is a much better space, a much calmer place to be.
This is a continuation of my reflections on my new week, with yesterday being here.
October 29, 2008
It has become a day of reflection (on what I learned on Tuesday, or New Monday).
It has become a day of preparation (on what is due tomorrow for class readings and assignments).
It has become a day of rest (some time off between the lecture schedule. Hey, I am in my 50's).
It has become a day of community ( I meet with a group of men Wednesday night for some fellowship, some Bible and some conversation).
All in all it is a different Wednesday from when I was working and it represented getting over the hump of the work week. It has a different feel, one of quiet accomplishment not clearing a hurdle.
I like the way Wednesdays work now.
I have been writing about my new week, the previous day of which
you can read right here."
October 28, 2008
Tuesdays are as well. Does it feel funny starting my "work week" a day later than most? No, it feels good. Let others have the head start of Monday, I ease into my schedule. No sense rushing somewhere until I know where it is I need to go.
Once I am into the week, I am busy. Actually I am busy on Mondays as well. But I am not rushed anymore. In addition, I am not feeling the pressure of seminary I was feeling just a few weeks ago, God seems to have calmed my heart on that one, and I pray that feeling (or lack of feeling) continues. My days are full, there are days I feel I wish the day had more time to get done what I would like to get done. Not a longer day, but one with more time in it, if that makes any sense to you. It does to me somehow.
So shortly I will head off to classes for the day and then to a church small group meeting tonight with my wife. Along the way, I will try to spend as much time walking and talking with Jesus that I can. He is so gracious that I know He will sit in with me on my lectures today, even though He has heard them many, many times. A lot of it is from His lectures, so maybe He will give me a little more insight into what I have to learn today.
As for the picture above, it has nothing to do with what I have written so far. I liked it, it fits me somehow. It says a lot to me about how times have changed. I was scary in the 80's. Still am, but I mostly scare myself now, no one else.
I have been writing about my new week, the previous day of which
you can read right here."
October 27, 2008
I thought this was a pretty creative way to lay out some Bible passages.
All calls are local, even though the distance can long, depending on where your heart is when you make the call. But the Operator is standing by, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
A year ago, Monday was the day I dreaded. After having a few days off, it signaled the start of the week in a situation I was less than happy about. I would usually have a great Sunday morning at church, but that would start wearing off by mid to late afternoon. Then the familiar feeling would set in. A tenseness, a growing dread of the workweek ahead.
It was a shame that the day I spent the most time with the Lord turned into the day I started to think He was farthest from me.
What a dunce! He was there, getting me ready for the next phase of my life. I didn't always feel His presence because I was turning myself into a pretzel over the upcoming week instead of being quiet in the rest He had prepared for me.
I have apologized to Him many times for that, but the real proof of the sincerity of my attitude will be what I do with the rest of my life for Him, starting now, this Monday.
I love what He has done with my Mondays.
October 26, 2008
The time came in the evening when people were asked to search their hearts and see if they felt the call to commit to financially supporting the ministry. Commitment cards were available. Many people did turn them in. We did and are now supporting this ministry in our small way.
What I heard last night was that a majority of the cards have not been honored. It is sad. A Christian crowd coming together to support a Christian ministry for an evening and then ignoring the pledges made that night. What a witness to our Lord we made that evening.
I am not saying everyone should have committed. I am not saying we ourselves gave enough. But if you give your word, follow through. There are so many ministries that need our assistance no one can support them all. But support the ones that your heart calls you to. Honor God by honoring your commitments.
Do not make a show of filling out a card at a banquet and turning it in and forgetting about any follow through. There are plenty of times I have not answered the call for financial support. I am OK with that.
But if that is how you feel, just leave the envelope on the table. An unfulfilled pledge is more crushing to those in ministry than no pledge at all.
October 25, 2008
I had a very good day yesterday:
- At 6:15am, I met with my men's group and had a good discussion about the future direction of our group
- The rest of the morning I did schoolwork, reading and working on a paper that is due in a week or so
- Spent the afternoon with my wife
- We had a nice lunch (if you ever doubt the presence of a divine being, tuck into a blue cheese and bacon burger, with fries, every once and a while)
- We went and took advantage of early (Vote Early, Vote Often) voting in our town (Hey Baby, want to go help elect the leader of the free world together)
- Saw the movie Fireproof with about 12 other people in the theater (What were they doing in my media room?) Definitely worth seeing
- Had a late, quiet dinner at home
- We had a nice lunch (if you ever doubt the presence of a divine being, tuck into a blue cheese and bacon burger, with fries, every once and a while)
The afternoon was clearly the best part. Why am I telling you about this?
It sticks in my mind.
Why does it stick in my mind?
At the end of the day my wife looked at me and said "It was a nice day today".
That was what really made it a good day yesterday. Lord, how I love my wife!
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary,the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)
"All of God's people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. Unless we have the right purpose intellectually in our minds and lovingly in our hearts, we will very quickly be diverted from being useful to God."
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest
They seemed to fit for me. I am His, I call Jesus my Lord and Savior. How could the devil devour me? If we do not keep Jesus in our hearts and minds like Mr. Chambers wrote, we can be diverted from His path. Think of the damage you can do if your walk in not in line with the witness you have given people. The damage if people watching you see a walk that does not line up with the talk.
The devil cannot grab me from God's hand, the grasp is too firm, the Hand too strong to be overcome. But diversion can lead to a loss of credibility in the eyes of others, even if it does not lead to any loss of love in the eyes of God.
So, I pray to keep my eyes on the narrow road. I desire to laugh and love at the lord's banquest, not be dinner for the devil.
October 24, 2008
In the degree program that I am currently enrolled in at seminary, there is no language requirement. I mean you have to know English to understand the lectures, but you are not required to study languages, specifically Greek and Hebrew. That fact alone should be sufficient impetus to write a post about the grace of God. That is a very good thing, and except for the occasional sly reference to Greek grammar one of my professors might work into a lecture, I see little downside to me. I know that studying Scripture in the original language would open it up to me in ways it will not open in the English. But opening up implies the concept of a key opening a lock, and my mind is keyed to studying Greek grammar the way a rubber mallet is keyed to opening a steel door. Bang away all you want and you have some noise for a bit and a couple of marks that easily rub off with your thumb. I am not going there.
But I digress. The students I feel sorry for aren't the ones studying Greek and Hebrew but the ones who have to learn English to sit in Dallas and study at seminary. English is the language that lacks a certain logic that would drive me crazy if I was learning it at this stage of life.
- Why can't you write a poem and get cog and dog to rhyme?
- Why is mouse in plural form mice, but house in the plural form of houses?
- If the past tense of dig (as in a hole) is dug. Why isn't a dead pig a pug?
- Did God leave no alone at Babel? It seems to be the same in so many languages. I know this doesn't fit with the others, but I was hoping someone could shed some light on it.
- Why is a carload a load that fills a car, but a carpet is not a dog that does the same?
- If a letter is silent (knack, numb), why did they bother to even out it there in the first place?
I could go on but you are already bored. My point is I am not feeling sorry for my inability to master languages since I think I do OK with one of the hardest of all.
October 23, 2008
I did another media fast yesterday, and used the time gained in not indulging in the various media in my life to do some prayer and reflection. I believe I learned a few things:
- I am as more comfortable with the idea of reflection than with the actual implementation of it. This bothers me, but as I am reflective I seem to want to engage in doing something else, as if reflection isn't doing enough. I had not focused on that last week. So it is a new thought. But since I am not all that comfortable spending a lot of time in reflection, I wonder if I will ever get around to understanding that better.
- I am less concerned with what is going on around me than I thought I would be. I sensed this last week, but it hit me stronger this time around. When I am not plugged into things, I really do not miss them as much as I thought I would. It seems it is not the urgency of the media that draws me, but its availability.
- The volume of information built up during the fast has a direct impact on how much time I will spend processing each individual item. Seeing what came in yesterday gives me the feeling that few items will get the same level of intensity from me than if I had seen them on a more current basis. I apologize to all who wrote these items, but apparently I am a prime candidate for information overload and may be no more than 24 to 72 hours away from it at any given time. How thin the veneer of a virtual life.
I will do this again next Wednesday to fulfill the commitment I made to myself. I think I am less inclined to do this on a regular basis than I was a week ago. But unlike the major television networks, I will not declare a winner until all the polls close and results are reported form all precincts.
October 21, 2008
Today is an ordinary day, much like any other in my life. But it is beautiful to me. I have seminary, which I love going to, love attending the lectures at. We have a praise chapel and I know the guy leading worship today, Joel Engle, the lead pastor at The Exchange, making it a lot more personal to me. Tonight I have an event to attend with the Evantell people, a great group of people to spend some time with, people who love the Lord and working in His service.
It is a beautiful, special ordinary day. Ordinary in the eyes of everyone else, just another guy going through life, but it is special in my eyes. That is what makes it beautiful, the way this day makes me feel.
It is a day I can hardly wait to get started on, so I need to wrap up this post.
Because it is an ordinary day that I am going to revel in.
And I am going to pray that God puts it on my heart to feel this way everyday.
October 20, 2008
This is my 100th blog post. It has no purpose other than being my 100th blog post. Beyond that it is empty and meaningless, therefore, only slightly less useful than the first 99 posts.
But I understand why people do these commemorative type posts: they are easy to write. You just give the number, say how happy you are to meet the milestone (I am happy, but blogging isn't what drives my happiness, it is one of the outcomes of my happiness), and how you look forward to the future (I do look forward to the future, and will whether I blog or not).
So here's to my centennial. And now I have to go off and plan for the millennium.
"It is not the practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College-its entire strength lies in the fact that here you are immersed in the truths of God to soak in them before Him. You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you either at homer or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God's redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens."
Oswald Chambers-My Utmost For His Highest
We do not know how we are going to be used, but just that we are going to be used. With that very basic fact, why would you not want to have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, knowing that one day your knee will bow to Him; trust in Him and let it be your kneeling in love and reverence, not abject terror.
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28 (NASB)
Be called to His purpose, not to His judgment.
October 19, 2008
I guess I need to guard against similar atrophy in another major muscle, my mind. If the extended use of my laptop has impacted how easily I can use my hand to do a simple function like writing, what is it doing to my mind?
I will need to guard against brain drain by insuring intellectually stimulating fare is the main diet I ingest on the internet. I believe my seminary studies will help keep me sharp by honing my thinking processes over the next few years, but is it harder than it would have been if I had not become a budding internet junkie over the past few years?
If nothing else, this affirms my decision to do a media fast last Wednesday, and to continue it over the next few weeks. It is making me think I need a more permanent program, but I may switch it to the weekend after I complete the three week commitment I made to Wednesdays. More thought on this is required on my part.
Which is probably a good start to a program of exercising my mind.
October 18, 2008
We touched on mission trips, but the discussion wasn't about that. Those can be great if structured properly. I have talked to many people both local and international who feel Americans often treat these as vacations rather than mission trips, or worse yet take a "my way or highway" approach as to what and how they should be done once you are actually on the mission field. Another topic for another day.
"On mission" has a different connotation and is I believe more difficult than a mission trip. Because it includes how you live in your world not just going to visit someone else's. (And we know what Jesus said about not having honor in your own town.)
It includes teaching a teen group on a Wednesday night, mentoring a group of younger men or women, visiting a homeless shelter every Saturday morning just to love on the people and minister to them (and actually do it so effectively some of them think you are homeless too). It also includes going off to a foreign country to help build a city next to a garbage dump for people who up to then lived in the garbage dump as their only means of survival.
Missionality (not sure it is a word, but it fits). Not making it about a week, or month or even a year long mission trip. Not even talking about permanently making your life the international mission field. Those are great if done with love and with Christ first in your heart. It is about being on mission each and everyday of your life where you are right now. Being on mission when there are so many distractions to go off mission (people, places and things).
My group realized we are doing some of it (probably not enough), but we do not talk enough about it to gain encouragment from others and to provide the same type of encouragement flowing out of us.
You can be on mission so easily if you choose to. Live your life for Christ. Try to do as he would.
We had that conversation yesterday morning. This morning I read the following:
"The key to a missionary's devotion is that hew is attached to nothing and to no one except our Lord Himself...The duty of a faithful missionary is to concentrate on keeping his soul completely and continually open to the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest
Try some missionality today.
October 17, 2008
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest
I do not think I look at prayer like that often. Prayer is always from my perspective, or from that of another I am praying for. I do not usually look at prayer solely from God's perspective.
He wants us engaged in battle with our sinful nature and the evil in the world around us, in battle within ourselves, amongst ourselves and around ourselves. If we are laboring at that, focused on talking to Him, then He is pleased with the effort, no matter what He has willed the result to be.
Jesus prayed continually, often alone, sometimes in deep inner struggle (think Gethsemane). To the Father it was fruitful, to Christ it was as well as He knew He did the Father's will.
If prayer is focused on God, foremost in our mind, aimed at the struggle we face in life, there truly is no unanswered prayer. For it is offered up to the glory of God.
October 16, 2008
So what did I miss?
- An 8% drop in the stock market. Boy, that never ever happens!
- A presidential debate. Man, I am sure positions were clarified and observers illuminated. Not sure how I will catch up.
- Staring at my PC screen. Enough said.
But it was time well spent, or maybe time not spent. Not spent immersed in myself or social media. Not spent blogging, or reading blogs, or cruising on Facebook. But time well spent reflecting on my Lord, talking with Him a little more, and a little more closely. Time very well spent.
I will do it again the next two weeks as my pastor challenged us to do.
Who knows, it may become a habit: Wednesdays without the www...
October 15, 2008
I cannot say I personally know poverty on any level of my life, but I am aware of that fact now like I had never been aware of it before.
I came to place my faith and trust in Jesus as my Lord and Savior only about 5 years ago. In hindsight, I now see the poverty that was in my life, the dearth of true spiritual blessings and truth that comes only through Jesus.
Material poverty in the life is all too present, all around the world. Most of us living in America can only imagine how grinding poverty is in the lives of so many people, domestically and internationally. Most of us would probably do more if it really faced us daily, if we could not push it into the back of our minds. Sure, we might cluck sympathetically at sermons or at social gatherings when the topic comes up, but it is the rare few that take it on and fight it, head on and all out. I know that I do some, but no where near enough myself, I am not taking a superior attitude with anyone, I have no claim on the moral high ground.
We would do better as a nation if we addressed our spiritual poverty first, then let our new found love of the Lord spillover to loving others as we love ourselves. Maybe then we could make a dent in poverty at all levels, easing present suffering and insuring eternal peace as well. In this election year, we can talk about what government can and should do, what our tax dollars should be spent on and how much tax dollars should there be to spend. But it really needs to start on a personal level first. Nothing gets done like something you choose to do yourself, we all know that.
We should not be surprised at how much bodily poverty there is given the poverty of our hearts, but we should be appalled by it.
October 14, 2008
My pastor gave a sermon at our church, 121 Community Church in Grapevine, TX on Sunday laying out a Christian worldview put into a biblical grid. No endorsing of candidates nor political parties, but he asked us to view the political platforms of candidates against a Christian world view to make our decisions. He asked us to consider the following grid. You could come up with a lot of different wording to lay out a Christian world view, bu this one works quite well for me.
He asked us to use the next few weeks to focus on prayer leading up to the election with a special emphasis on Wednesdays, coming to church in the evening to pray corporately. He asked that we do a media fast on the next three Wednesdays, using the time spent viewing various media in prayer instead. So I am not on the internet tomorrow, but I will post something in advance to run in my absence to fulfill a commitment to Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty. I will try to do a "media fast" the next two Wednesdays as well.
This is what he laid out as a biblical grid. I cannot give you all his talk points, the link above will take you to the church website where sermons are podcast. Here are some scripture verse (all from the NASB) to reflect on.
WHAT IS GOD FOR?
"So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today.It
will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this
commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us."
God's Word is our life; Jesus Christ is our life.
- The Authoritative Nature of Scripture
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
God's word is s word, it is a lamp, it is the truth.
- Subjection to Governing Authorities
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Romans 13:1
God puts all governments in place. Submit to government up to the point it calls for disobedience to God.
- The Establishment of Justice and Restraint of Evil
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. Romans 13:2-5
We need governments to restrain the evil in our hearts, not that it always does a good job.
- Careful Management of the Planet
The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it. Psalm 24:1
It is all His, treat it like that.
- One Man and One Woman Marriage
The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man."
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:23-24
It is part of His plan for us and has been from the beginning.
- Wholesome Sexual Relationships
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Read Song of Solomon in the Bible. See the gift God gave us in sexual relations within a God approved marriage.
- The Sacredness of Life
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for ]I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139:13-16
All life is His from the beginning, from conception.
- Selfless Giving to Resources
"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Luke 6:38
Be content with what you have and give cheerfully, in good times and in bad.
- Integrity of Leaders
The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath. Proverbs 11:23
The integrity of our leaders will guide them, that is why they must have it.
- Humble Service to Others
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:31-46
Meet the needs of others without them asking for help.
- Transformed Lives Through Jesus Christ
This one pretty much sums up what you have if you follow all the others above. I guess I would have to quote the whole Bible to get this one right. There it is, a Christian worldview through a biblical grid. No endorsements, but no condemnation either. No name calling, just loving people. No feeling superior to anyone because we are all sinners in the eyes of God. No one gets a hall pass on that one.
You may not like parts of this; you may not like any of this. But it stands up to biblical scrutiny, I like the way it lays out in our world.
October 13, 2008
a) I have resolved my left brain/right brain conflicts.
b) I can isolate my left brain/right brain activities.
c) This is not a valid test
d) I have half a brain.
I know, most of you are going with d).
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)
October 12, 2008
But when are we ever out of God's spotlight? We can hide things from each other if we choose, and we have an enormous capacity to hide things even from ourselves.
But what can we hide from God? We may not always choose to walk alongside Jesus in our daily life, we may languish a bit here and there, falling behind Him. (We can never get ahead of Him, that is for sure) Getting into stride with God (or getting back into stride) can be painful because it means we need to give up what kept us out of step. And getting rid of the very thing we choose over God at a particular point in time can be very painful since we love to indulge our sins, that is part of our sinful nature.
But the spotlight of God is ever upon us. Chambers is right that it is at those lonely times that we show our true worth in our attitude to the little, ordinary things. Because we can ignore them without anyone knowing it. We do not have to answer to anyone for what dwells in our mind, away from everyone but ourselves. There is no one to call us on that sin, that hypocrisy, that darkness of mind we dare not show anyone else.
Except God. We are ever in His spotlight.
But unlike the glare we shine into each others eyes, the spotlight God shines on us is diffused with love and mercy. It is the light of grace if we choose to step into it. Chambers states that getting into that stride with God can be painful, but we are to get on with it, we will have a new vision and purpose if we do.
We will see life through God's spotlight.
October 11, 2008
The Inverse Ratio of Confidence to Competence (IRCC, spelled for convenience purposes and pronounced "irk") states the immutable law (at least a sit applies to me) that the less confidence I have in the finished product of an assignment, the more competent the results appear to be. This is based on the independent, objective 3rd party grading of the assignments to date. (Done I might add with a whole lot of grace).
It appears I am to be irked by all my assignments. Although I will test this theorem mightily in the next few weeks, starting last Tuesday, the most recent assignments turned in. (Irking can occur outside the space/time continuum).
The Lord sees fit to have me sweat over each assignment. (Or as it is often called in the finance world, praying over the numbers. An apt description for seminary, don't you think?)
This is probably a great idea on His part, if it came too easy to me, I might start taking things for granted, the last thing I want to do when I am studying the Word of God. Most things worthwhile in life come with some struggle, and this is worthwhile beyond this life.
So doing the work irks me on a regular basis.
But I am taking heart, there is great joy to be had in such irksome activity.
October 10, 2008
Who knows? God knows.
We need to remember that He is in control and that all this is happening to fulfill His will at this point in time.
I do not know where the bottom is, but whatever we are going through, I am certain of one thing.
We deserve it or He would not be doing it.
People are incredibly nervous, or incredibly depressed or incredibly confused. How can things be this way, seemingly overnight? Well it has been building, we have just chosen to ignore it.
Look back into the Old Testament, see how God's people get hammered, time and again when they are outside of God's will. Are we in God's will? As a friend told me yesterday, as a society, as a culture, we do not know how to blush (Jeremiah 6:15).
What makes us so special, what makes us exempt? Nothing. We are not a nation of priests (a role the nation of Israel did not fulfill well in the Old Testament). I fear we are more like a nation of pests to God right now.
We probably need to spend more time on our knees, asking for His mercy and grace; asking for His guidance. More time on our knees turning back to Him.
Because if He turns His back on us, we ain't seen nothing yet.
October 9, 2008
"If you find the perfect church, don't join it, you will ruin it." (Good Advice)
"God is the Creator. He is not a tree-hugger. He values us more than the sparrow and gave it all to us to use." (I think it is implied that the use be wise)
"My daughter says I'm the kind of Doctor who doesn't help people." (Webster's definition of a Seminary Professor?)
"Literal interpretation does not devalue figurative language, it enhances it." (It takes two to tango)
"Teenagers today are therapeutic functional deists." (Treat God like a candy store)
"People living in today's culture need help to faithfully live in it." (We are under attack)
"The central issue of sin is disbelief." (Pride probably figures in as well)
You hear some interesting stuff if you just listen.
Take the issue of God's providence. Here is how God defined it in Psalm 23:
The LORD, the Psalmist's Shepherd.
A Psalm of David. 1The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Here is how man has defined it in the Westminister Confession of Faith of 1646:
CHAPTER V. Of Providence.I. God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct
dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the
greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence,
according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable
counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom,
power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
II. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the
first cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly, yet, by
the same providence, he ordereth them to fall out according to the
nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
III. God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is
free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.
IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness
of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth
itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men,
and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a
most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing
of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as
the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from
God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the
author or approver of sin.
V. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth oftentimes leave
for a season his own children to manifold temptations and the
corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins,
or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and
deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise
them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon
himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of
sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
VI. As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous
judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden; from them he not only
withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in
their understandings, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also
withdraweth the gifts which they had; and exposeth them to such objects
as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over
to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of
Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under
those means which God useth for the softening of others.
VII. As the providence of God doth, in general, reach to all
creatures, so, after a most special manner, it taketh care of his
Church, and disposeth all things to the good thereof.
Poetry vs. prose. Which is richer, more visual; which are you more likely to steep yourself in?
Did you even read through man's version?
I'm sticking with God on this one. He is the divine Poet.
October 8, 2008
The National Debt Clock in NYC (I think it is on 44th St right off 6th Ave. or Avenue of the Americas for you non-NYers) went past the $10 trillion mark this week in part because of the bailout package, requiring them to add another digit to the clock. It is one of those things that you tended to look at without even noticing if you walked past it everyday, as I did for years. You really didn't want to look at the part that made it very personal - your family's share of the pie.
Several years ago the building it was on was torn down to put up one of those block long skyscrapers. So they moved it. And guess where it wound up for a new home?
A building that houses an IRS office. I guess they are keeping track of how much taxes we are all eventually going to have to pay to zero out that clock. Somebody's gotta pay someday.
Chambers starts off with asking us to think of the things about which we will not come to Jesus on. But that is our pride and our self centered approach to life getting in the way. Again.
Chambers goes on with:
"The Holy Spirit will show you what you have to do, and it will involve anything that will uproot whatever is preventing you from getting through to Jesus. And you will never get any further until you are willing to do that very thing. The Holy Spirit will search out that one immovable stronghold within you, but He cannot budge it unless you are willing to let Him do so."
We have to move first in order for the Spirit to move within us.
Or as a friend of mine is fond of saying "God doesn't steer a parked car."
I just read a gem of an essay by J.I. Packer called "Theology & Bible Reading" in The Act of Bible Reading edited by Elmer Dyck. It is a collection of essays by faculty of Regent College from 1996.
Packer's thesis is that theology and bible reading go hand in hand. He believes this now (but didn't in his youth, which was some time ago). The argument that theology (thought and speech about God) is elitist is attacked quite vigorously. Anyone who speaks about God is in a sense, a theologian, so why not be a good one by coupling theology with bible study? It is an interesting circle: theology gives you the framework to understand what God has said to us, but bible reading gives you the message itself.
Packer discusses the disciplines of theology. Starting with exegesis of a passage (the original meaning of the passage), Packer walks you through organizing exegetical findings (biblical theology), study of what past Christians made of the passage (historical theology) and developing a disciplined framework (systematic theology). Apologetics (defense of the faith), ethics (ideals of Christian behavior), missiology (fulfillment of ministering tasks appointed us by God), spirituality) life in communion with God) and liturgy (worship of God) follow. The disciplines wrap up with practical theology, how to do god's work and glorify His name in our particular serving roles and situations.
Packer talks briefly about how the liberal theological views coming out of the enlightenment led to a distrust of traditional theology. It took a resurgence of fundamentalist scholarship to get us where we are today.
Packer then follows with relating bible reading and theology in four tasks:
1) Receptive – noting all that is said about what God has done, is doing or will do.
2) Critical – relating historical Christian positions to the biblical language.
3) Applicatory – drawing practical guidance from God's revelation for contemporary life.
4) Communicative – finding ways to edify believers, instruct unbelievers correct notions and rebut antagonistic positions.
Packer wraps up with why everyday folks should be concerned with theology. How it shows us a coherent, consistent approach to the bible and how it sets out the substance of the bible. In essence, how theology keeps bible reading a "He" exercise and not a "me" exercise.
I would recommend this essay to anyone as an immensely readable and thoroughly enjoyable read.
October 7, 2008
But I will answer a couple of his questions now:
Q: Are there boomers in seminary?
A: Yes, quite a few. I haven't counted heads, but I would say 10% or so are boomers. In my Christian Education class, there are 3 generations: boomers, Gen X (or busters), and millenials (or bridgers). The upsetting thing is to be in the oldest generation.
Q: What is the hardest thing about seminary?
A: Two things. 1)I do not retain reading as well as I did 30 years ago, so reading texts is more work than it was. 2) I've decided I am too old for homework.
Q: Are my professors rocking with Godly wisdom?
A: Definitely. These are Godly men and women who care about the students. They are brilliant, they are humble. That's not a combination you see out in the world often. And they are pouring into us with each class. I just wish I wasn't such a cracked vessel.
Q: Is my life changing by what I am learning?
A: I think so. I am finding it more meaningful to get into the word, and am also beginning to understand how easy it is for someone to be exposed to bad preaching and teaching that goes on out in the world.
Q: What is my biggest surprise about seminary?
A: I have always considered myself a reasonably intelligent human being. But I have seen more words I never used before. Like soteriology (study of salvation) or harmartiology (study of sin). Personally, I would have used salvology and sinology myself, but no one asked. But they actually use angelology, so my recommendations are not that crazy.
Q: What is the biggest surprise for me?
A: The weight of wanting to do well. Not for a grade, not just for the knowledge, but because I am studying God's word, and my best is the least I can do.
Q: Most meaningful lesson?
A: This is not going to be easy, but it is definitely going to be worth it.
I will try to share more in the future.
I can hardly believe it!
Registration for the spring semester at DTS opens next week. Next week I should be worrying about papers and a midterm exam. Not what I want to take starting the end of January, 2009.
And because of that I have to start thinking about the fact it is almost 2009! What happened to the 00's? They are almost gone. Pretty soon it will be the teens of all things. Unless you believe in Mayan Cosmogenesis (I do not), in which case, don't sweat the teens.
It is enough work getting through my first semester here without thinking about my next semester. Too much planning ahead cannot be all that good, it is not biblical:
"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34 (NASB)
There is a $50 late fee if I do not register in the next two weeks, so I guess I have to worry a little bit about tomorrow. About $50 worth I guess.
But there is a fine line between prudent planning and worrying. You cannot just sit there and wait for the future to show up. You have to plan a bit for it, work towards it and seek out the Lord's will for your part in it. You cannot sit on a aprk bench and wait for Jesus to come down the path. He gave us instructions, He gave us a commission. And we have to fit that into the world we live in.
So we have to be able it, doing our part.
But I just realized I have not run into any Mayans on campus this semester, but then again, I don't know all that many people yet.
October 6, 2008
So I am sitting listening to the rain this morning. Don't know how much we are getting, but I am thanking God for the provision He chooses to give us.
"The moral miracle of redemption is that God can put a new nature into me through which I can live a totally new life."
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest
That is what this morning feels like, Jesus pouring His living water into me, washing me clean to live a new life through Him.
Let it rain, let it wash us clean. Let it drum on my roof until I hear its call.
Basically, they take twice the good stuff and pump the rest back in. Somehow, maybe it should be take one half the good stuff and throw the rest out. I do not think I am getting the best end of the bargain.
Whatever. They promised me a free tee shirt this time, they ran out of the big boy sizes last time. A free shirt. I mean, why else give blood? Seriously, I really enjoy doing this and am glad to do so whenever I am eligible.
They have some criteria: I have to be 5'1" or taller (OK, I am 6'4"). I must weigh at least 130 lbs (I could be cutting this one close. No wait, they said 130 pounds, not 130 kilograms. I am in the clear).
I have a blood type and Rh factor that, while it is not rare, is worth them chasing after me to get some as soon as I am able to donate again. They treat me special, clean needles and new collection bags. (This just keeps getting better, doesn't it? I would much rather have a blood type that is compatible with, I don't know, maybe marinara sauce or dirty dishwater?)
But they are nice people, are very appreciative and make you feel special for the 40 minutes or so that they will be sucking the life force out of your body. A nice visit, all things considered. And so close to Halloween, a nice back story them to work with.
And giving blood is the closest thing to working a job I have done since I retired.
I have been doing this for some time, but it will be my first shirt. I am very excited.
October 5, 2008
Facing the day with all your energy still bubbling away inside you.
Spending some quiet time in His Word, reflecting on my walk with Christ, getting a little closer to Him while the world is held at bay.
A cup of coffee, a bite to eat, fresh air to breathe, scratching my dog's ears. (Oh, to be able to sniff the air the way a dog does!)
Smiling and saying good morning to my wife.
I love the mornings.
It is just a darn shame you have to get up so early to enjoy them.
October 4, 2008
The surprise is in the fact that my birthday is in March. so is it an early or a late birthday gift. She will not say. So I may not be surprised until next Spring.
But I do so love her for thinking of me for no apparent reason other than she loves me.
What we have not seen, what we do not know is the road we must travel to get there.
I am still a rough rock that Christ needs to sculpt, and I do not know how painful the process needs to be as I live out my life, waiting for His call home. I do not know the gutters He has to reach down into to pull me out of, the mire of life He will need to hose off.
So, as I deal with people and places, occurrences and events as I move through life, I need to be more accepting of what is in front of and around me, to work my way through it. But more importantly to grasp the lesson inherent in life's struggles so that I learn a little more about what I have seen means. So that I learn that the difficult person who is making my life miserable may just be one of God's messengers, one of His work tools, even if neither of us realize it at the time. (Ande we will probably not do so).
This is what reading Chambers has put into my heart today. I thank him for it.
October 3, 2008
I have not been an intentional, deliberate, continual pray warrior. I pray, but not necessarily throughout the day, as I see needs, as I think of things that should be brought before my Father's throne. I do not think often enough of getting alongside Jesus and talking to Him prayerfully. I just do not do it nearly enough, it has not become second nature to me. And it should be first nature.
A team from my church is leaving for a short term mission trip to India today. My wife and I have the privilege to be on the prayer team for the trip. I ask God for the spiritual strength to do so boldly and faithfully over the next 8 days. Prayer is a form of support and service that I have not focused on to the extent I should.
I believe in the power of prayer. I probably need prayer in order for me to become more prayerful. So today I am praying that the mission team makes a safe journey, uses the time to prepare their hearts for service to the Lord in the upcoming week, that the hearts of those they will meet are ready to hear the good news of Jesus and the team brings glory to His name in love and unity.
And prayer in my life not just for this upcoming week, but in my life more richly going forward.