February 28, 2009

Following Jesus-Part IV

This is the last day of my posting about the session at Dallas Theological Seminary hosted by the Center for Christian Leadership entitled Following Jesus In a World Like Ours.

We have covered Assessing Ourselves in Our Cultural Climate, Engaging One Another in Community. and Engaging God in Worship. The final topic is Mark Young covering Engaging Our World in Missions. Dr. Young started with some basic statements:

  • It is naive to think that as Christians, we can live outside of the culture around us
  • That culture was created by people and we need to be more interested in people than in culture
  • When we view culture as the enemy we withdraw from it or fight it. That moves us towards the fringes of the culture.
Young gave a definition of culture as a shared way of life designed to achieve a shared vision of common good with shared patterns of behaviors lived out through shared institutions. As such, culture is not intrinsically good or evil, but it is created by people who are by Christian definition sinful and depraved (that includes us as well). We have terminal values that are the idealized end state (i.e., independence) that are arrived at by practicing instrumental values (i.e., individualism). Culture needs to be looked at as a gift from God so we could live together and enjoy the world He created for us.

Young described the Bible not as a book about God, but one about God and humanity.Everything we know about God is through the lens of human interaction with the divine as revealed in Scripture. We need to understand that we are in the image of God, image as revealing and representing His creation.

How do we live in mission within the culture? We need to be right (tell the truth of God), relevant (tell it in a manner understandable within the culture) and redemptive (people have to want what we have in our relationship with God). Young pointed to 1 Peter 2:9-25 as the type of morally blameless, non-retaliatory, trusting and sacrificial living we need to engage in.

During the day, I had posed this question anonymously, and it was used to wrap up the session. With all that was covered today, what is the one key take away each speaker would have us leave with:

  • Bock: Spiritual formation (conforming ourselves to image of Christ) is not enough; we need to help people we are called to love by bringing Christ to them.
  • Bingham: Scripture is the basis from which all perspectives are to proceed out from.
  • Jones: We need to be bi-lingual; speaking the languages of both tradition and culture.
  • Young: seek to live good lives amongst non-believers, They may argue with you but they will see your good deeds and lives and God will be glorified by that.
I thoroughly enjoyed this seminar and what each speaker had to offer. I hope you enjoyed my meager summary thes epast four days.

February 27, 2009

Following Jesus-Part III

This is the third day of my posting about the session at Dallas Theological Seminary hosted by the Center for Christian Leadership entitled Following Jesus In a World Like Ours.

We have covered Assessing Ourselves in Our Cultural Climate and Engaging One Another in Community. Now, Barry Jones will take us through Engaging God in Worship. Dr. Jones began with a very basic premise: we worship God because He deserves it. Our worship has that one purpose but many consequences as you candle God's faithfulness against the faithlessness of people. Jones noted that as a culture we deal less with theological concepts of spirituality and more with psychic well being. We are interested as a culture with feeling good more than we are with feeling God.

Jones covered four acts in the drama of worship:
  • Gathering: the coming together in worship and attending to God. We need to pay attention to God. We need to pay attention to what is said about God. The concept of lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi (The law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of life; or as the church prays and worships, so she beleives, so she lives life). We need to pay attention to the Christian past. Do not just ask is it relevant, ask if it is ancient, has it passed the test of time.
  • Word: we need to recover a robust theology of preaching, to focus on the importance of the sermon. We need to make the Gospel the center of the sermon. We need to preach by naming the idols we follow after in life. Bold, robust preaching.
  • Table: we need to reconsider the weight of history, to note the spiritual nourishment in partaking in the Lord's Supper, to counter the logic of consumerism, of giving to get. Our spirituality has to be holistic, embracing our minds and bodies.
  • Sending: worship has to be at the heart of our missionary zeal. Worship that doesn't result in mission is abortive, it does not give life from the sending out of the church.
Jones concluded by noting that worship should lead to living transformed lives serving others in mission. Tomorrow I will wrap up with Engaging our World in Missions.

February 26, 2009

Following Jesus-Part II

Monday I got the chance to attend a really good session at Dallas Theological Seminary hosted by the Center for Christian Leadership. It was entitled Following Jesus In a World Like Ours.

Yesterday I posted on Assessing Ourselves in Our Cultural Climate. Today I will talk about Engaging One Another in Community. Jeff Bingham presented this portion of the session. Dr. Bingham started with some statements of what is necessary for us to be authentic Christians:

  • Authentic worship requires us to be reconciled to each other within the community
  • Authentic language about loving God demands loving relationships with each other
  • Authentic devotional life requires honorable relationships within the community, especially that of marriage
  • God did not create us to be alone with Him; He created us to be with Him in community
Bingham discussed that we have reduced community activities due to items such as television and computers making leisure and entertainment making it easy to go it alone; with suburbanization making it more difficult to get together. Bingham went on to descibe several false concepts of Christian community:

  • Individualism: thought that it is not essential to be spiritually nurtured in a communal fashion
  • Tribalism: a commmunity is adequate unto itself without interfacing with other communities
  • Presentism:the community is perfectly governed and provided for in the present without connection to past Christianity
  • Concertism:if you get people in same place witnessing same event, you have Christian community without regard for whether there is actual communal interaction
Bingham pointed to scripture to deal with these false concepts, most specifically 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 for the utilizing of different giftsd together in community; Romans 12:4-5 for the concept that believers gather together and complete each other and Ephesians 2:11-22 for a description of a new Christian community. Practical steps included:

  • Enhancing the communal nature and frequency of the Lord's supper
  • Adapting the communal identity before the individual identity
  • Acknowledge that some of the most significant spiritual growth occurs in community and not all in an individual personal relationship
  • Establish accountability with other communities including the Chrisitian past
Tomorrow we will discuss how to engage in worship.

February 25, 2009

Who I Am: Going For The Hat Trick

Did it! Three for Three on the Typealyzer! I love this stuff!

The analysis indicates that the author of http://thenarrowroad-andyc.blogspot.com is of the type:

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Now I really want to be a thinker, so I better come up with a real thinking post for the next one.

Following Jesus-Part I

Monday I got the chance to attend a really good session at Dallas Theological Seminary hosted by the Center for Christian Leadership. It was entitled Following Jesus In a World Like Ours. I will attempt a couple of blog posts to cover the information discussed. Four main speakers, all on faculty at DTS: Darrell Bock, Jeff Bingham, Barry Jones and Mark Young. All did a great job presenting and were very accessible to participants after presentations and on breaks throughout the day.

Dr Bock opened things up with a session entitled Assessing Ourselves in Our Cultural Climate. He laid out a road map of the issues facing the church today, that the follow on presenters would address. Dr. Bock noted 5 main issues from his perspective:

  • Post-modern relativism: an entitlement culture that extends all the way to things of God. Will come up against the concept of grace, which would define us as not entitled. No revelation from above, the creator-creature interaction is obliterated.
  • Pluralism: there are no valid exclusivity claims by any religion. Bock saw people moving down one of two tracks here; either towards more fundamentalism within their respective religion or more secularism, with both blocs trying to impose their worldview on others. Bock saw three potential reactions: 1)Dig in-and hold your line, 2)Withdraw-and step out of the culture or 3)Engage-both to understand other viewpoints and explain yours.
  • Personalized Globalism: distance between people is shrinking, more diverse people moving into our culture generating fear and uncertainty in how to engage. We have mor epersonal knowledge of cultural differences than before.
  • Materialism: An oldie but a goodie. it has been around a long, long time. Keads to life being defined by possessions and an excessive individualism. Religion is reduced to a transaction or consumer product-what can God do for me?
  • Omnipresent Technology: open and instant access to information at an emotive level with much multiprocessing.
Bock gave a brief idea on how to tackle these issues which he would sum up as engage, engage, engage. Don't shrink away, understand the person before you explain your position, look for a Gospel message that is trans-national to fit a globalizing culture, use technology and use God's gifts to serve.

That is a mouthful, I hope I got it right. More tomorrow, but you can see the issues to be addressed in following Jesus today are not insignificant.

February 24, 2009

OK, Now I am Confused

Just for laughs, I ran my blog through the Typealyzer again. The only new blog post being the one talking about the last typealyzer results. Last time I was an idealist which is not how I thought I would come out. This time:

ISFP - The Artists

The gentle and compassionate type. They are especially attuned their inner values and what other people need. They are not friends of many words and tend to take the worries of the world on their shoulders. They tend to follow the path of least resistance and have to look out not to be taken advantage of.

They often prefer working quietly, behind the scene as a part of a team. They tend to value their friends and family above what they do for a living.

I'll have to run it again after I post this one. Because I am way confused now, I do not have an artistic bone in my head. And the idealists have better hair. I am so glad this is all in good fun.

Who Am I? (Blogicalogically Speaking)

INFP - The Idealists

The meaning-seeking and unconventional type. They are especially attuned to making sure their beliefs and actions are congruent. They often develop a passion for the arts or unusual forms of self-expression.

They enjoy work that are aligned to their deeply felt values and tend to strongly dislike the more practical and mundane forms of tasks. They can enjoy working alone for long periods of time and are happiest when they can immerse themselves in personally meaningful projects.

This is me according to Typealyzer, a blog personality test. I am not sure this is what I was expecting, but then again, I am not sure I was expecting anything in particular. It is interesting that my blog reflects portions of my personality, but misses on others.

And I am not telling which is which. But I like the hair.

HT: Human3rror

February 23, 2009

Blogger Issues?

I see there are some Blogger glitches and people are losing links and followers. I think I have been hit. If you are gone from my page, sorry it was not planned on my part. Pleased put in to follow me again.

Win A Calfskin ESV Study Bible!

Moo! This is a great contest run by a blogging buddy of mine A Boomer in the Pew, who is a great trumpeter of the faith and all around good guy.

Head on over and check out his blog and this contest. Even if you do not win the Bible (and most of us will not), you will win by being exposed to some sound, thought provoking, Christian blogging at it's best.

And I mean it. Go check it out, why are you wasting time here anymore?

Enduring Perseverance

Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with
absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going
to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be
only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our
supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be
conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that
somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated...Continue to persevere spiritually.

Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest

We endure life, but persevere in our faith. I had not thought of looking to separate enduring from persevering until I read this in Chambers. Life is what we have to go through, faith is what we have to cling to. Enduring seems to be in the earthly realm, persevering seems to be in the spiritual realm.

I have my faith, I believe I will continue to persevere. And with His help, I will endure as well.

Or maybe I am getting it all wrong. How do you see it?

February 22, 2009

Forgiving Others

I found this excerpt in yesterday's reading of The Institutes of The Christian Religion by John Calvin very interesting:

To sum this up: when we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God's just dispensation.

Paul, to restrain us from retaliation for injuries, wisely points out that our struggle "is not with flesh and blood" [Ephesians 6:12], but with our spiritual enemy the devil [Ephesians 6:11], in order that we may prepare ourselves for the combat. Yet a most useful admonition to still all impulses to wrath is that God arms both the devil and all the wicked for the conflict, and sits as a judge of the games to exercise our
The Institutes of The Christian Religion - 1.17.8

Forgiving our fellow sinners because of what drives them to their sin. Do not get angry with others, but do forgive them because they are driven in their sin, helpless against it without the saving might of Jesus. I never looked at Paul's words as not only a warning against the evil forces of the spiritual realm but also as a plea to forgive those unfortunate souls who struggle as much as you or I do.

We are not to use it as an excuse to see, but it is a reason why we do. Forgiveness through that knowledge should flow easier and with more grace. The ability to graciously receive forgiveness from others should flow as well.

And I will try never to say "The devil made me do it".

February 21, 2009

For Me

Sweet victory tasting
Bitter was the cost.
I could not shoulder the burden
That He has borne for me.
Though it is my own.

Trumpets blaring victory
Sounds not mine to make.
There is music placed in my soul.
I only take that freely given
As joy burns off the shame.

All for me done.
Undone am I.
Falling short, but crossing over.
Measure not my actions judged
By His who bears my standard.

A. Coticchio February 2009

February 20, 2009

Listening With Passion

I spent some time yesterday with a great group of people in a ministry I care deeply about, Evantell. These people are teaching me so much about being passionate in the service of the Lord, of evangelizing the good news of Jesus.

They speak of their ministry with passion, and they also listen with passion. A love for the ministry, a love for spreading the good news, a love for people makes them eager to hear about others.

They listen with passion. I am going to enjoy spending more time with these folks, learning from them, sharing with them, rejoicing in the work they do for the Lord. You feel good just talking to them because they care deeply for you. They are modeling the will of our Lord each and every day.

I will be talking about this group quite a bit going forward, because they have some exciting stuff coming up soon. They are going to be a key brick in the wall of my ministry for what I pray is many, many years to come.

February 19, 2009

The Light Continues To Shine Always

I seem to have a light motif the last few posts, today is no exception. (That is light motif, not leitmotif, which is an entirely different subject which I also have no qualifications to speak about).

Today I am pondering passages in the previous two days in Oswald Chamber's My Utmost For His Highest:

If human beings were not capable of depression, we would have no capacity for happiness and exaltation. There are things in life that are designed to depress us; for example, things that are associated with death. Whenever you examine yourself, always take into account your capacity for depression...If, however, we do something simply to overcome our depression, we will only deepen it. But when the Spirit of God leads us instinctively to do something, the moment we do it the depression is gone.
My Utmost For His Highest-2/17 Devotional

The sense of having done something irreversible tends to make us despair. We say, "Well, it’s all over and ruined now; what’s the point in trying anymore." If we think this kind of despair is an exception, we are mistaken. It is a very ordinary human experience. Whenever we realize we have not taken advantage of a magnificent opportunity, we are apt to sink into despair. But Jesus comes and lovingly says to us, in essence, "Sleep on now. That opportunity is lost forever and you can’t change that. But get up, and let’s go on to the next thing." In other words, let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him.There will be experiences like this in each of our lives. We will have times of despair caused by real events in our lives, and we will be unable to lift ourselves out of them. The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing— they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord came to them taking the spiritual initiative against their despair and said, in effect, "Get up, and do the next thing." If we are inspired by God, what is the next thing?
My Utmost For His Highest-2/18 Devotional

We must come out of our darkness into His light to fight off the depression and despair that our sin can rain down on our heads and hearts. I am not depressed or despairing, I am actually quite excited about some of the new things happening in my life. But I am confused and perplexed about others, which I do not want turning into dread, depression or despair. I seek His light at all times for understanding. Failing that for comfort through faith and trust.

As I can see in the reminders He has chosen to put before me these past few days, I need to always swim in His light, or I could easily sink into my darkness. If you are wrestling with issues of depression or despair, consider taking the time to read these two devotionals by clicking through to the links above. They may provide some comfort and guidance.

Swim or sink, it is a simple choice to make, why do we make it so hard?

February 18, 2009

A Little More Light

I blogged yesterday on a passage out of Rainsford.Then I read this excerpt from Calvin:

In the same vein is that saying of Solomon, "The poor man and the usurer meet together; God illumines the eyes of both" [Prov. 29:13; cf. ch. 22:2]. He points out that, even though the rich are mingled with the poor in the world, while to each his condition is divinely assigned, God, who lights all men, is not at all blind.
Institutes of the Christian Religion 1:16.6

God is not blinded by the light which He illuminates us in our sin and shortcomings. We may be blind in our darkness, by the light that God shines upon us lays that out in the open for us to see.

No matter how dark we believe, the Lord sees with total clarity. Nothing is hidden from him:

11If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,"
12Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.

Psalm 139:11-12 (NASB)

That we let Him lead us, that we see through His sight. There is light all around us, even in our darkest thoughts or despair. I seem to keep stumbling into it and over it. I need to keep embracing it as it encourages and emboldens me.

February 17, 2009

Come Into the Light

I love this passage from Marcus Rainsford in Our Lord Prays For His Own:

Light! discovering to us what we are, that we may fly from self.
Light! discovering to us what sin is, that we may loathe it.
Light! discovering to us what Satan is, that we may not be ensnared by his devices.
Light! discovering to us what the world is, that we may not be entrapped by its delusions.
Light! unveiling hell, that we may fly from it to our refuge,
Light! discovering an opened heaven, and Him who beckons us in.

Look at what the light must burn away to reveal the glory of heaven to us: self, sin, Satan, world, hell. There is a whole lot of darkness that stands with us before we come into the light. Maker no mistake about it, we stand with all that darkness until our Lord's brilliance blots it out. I like the way Rainsford started with self, that is where the darkness begins, fueled by our sin, abetted by Satan. It encompasses our world, it makes it our hell, but there is an opened heaven for those who will walk through the door that the Lord holds open for us.

That's the road I look to walk on everyday, heading for the light of an opened heaven.

February 16, 2009

Keep Moving Forward

Life can be a hard place to live, what is required is a desire to keep moving forward, of living for the Lord and fighting the battle daily in His name:

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)

Running the race with endurance is what we are called to do. So that when we are done in this world we can say:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. 2Timothy 4:7 (NASB)

And He is quick to equip us for the battle, for the fight:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Ephesians 6:10-20 (NASB)

It is not an easy battle, which I find out daily, with deeper understanding and a testing of my resolve. But it is a battle, a fight, a race I look to be in for the long run. Some days I make more progress than others, but as my pastor said yesterday, you can either gripe or fight.

I choose battle.

February 15, 2009

Bone Dry

For reasons I do not really understand, it has been a tough term at seminary. I came through my first term OK, but it has been uphill since, and I am not sure why.

It started with the best of intentions, but quickly bogged down. I realized I needed to shed some of the load; I was not learning, I was managing towards a degree. I refuse to let this experience be about anything but an education, although I have to constantly remind myself of that. I needed balance with some mother things I felt called to work on, things I was finding as exciting as I thought seminary was going to be. As exciting as the learning should be. Ministry and education are a powerful team.

Even with that, it has been a struggle. Like quicksand at times. Or getting hit over the head with a hammer on a regular basis. The class load is light by seminary standards, yet still I struggle.

I have a few large projects I need to get started on, but the tank is empty, bone dry. No ideas, no thoughts about ideas. No ideas about thoughts. The mind is a blank.

It is frustrating because I felt called to come here, still do. But it is a desert of the mind I wander through right now. Hope I do not have to spend 40 years here.

I will pray and know the Lord can get me through anything He got me into. And when I nake it through this term, I will know it is all Him, not me. Not by a long shot.

He is sovereign, in His universe and my little world.

The prayer continues. Today is Your day, but so is every other day. Today is for spending some time in corporate praise and worship, private praise and worship, meditation, prayer and reflection.

Lord, I await your timing.

February 14, 2009

Oh, Happy Day

I love the Lord. He gives purpose and meaning to my life.

I love my wife. Through the Lord she brings much love and happiness to my life.

I love my life. Through the first two, I get to enjoy all the rest of it.

I am blessed, so blessed.


What Does It Take

Here is a verse I kicked around in my head quite a bit yesterday, having read it as part of my morning time in the Word:

But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, "You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD'S people." Numbers 16:41 (NASB)

If you read Numbers 13-16 you see a lot going on leading up to this. Distrust of the Lord, rebellion against His will, rebellion against His appointed leaders. A lot of smiting, a lot of Moses and Aaron interceding to keep God from punishing the nation of Israel even more for their rebellion. All this going on when the manifestation of God's physical presence on earth at the tent of meeting.

So there you have it. Rebellion in the physical presence of God; grumbling and ingratitude. Lots of people die, lots of punishment meted out. And oh yeah, you are on the doorstep of the promised land and now it's 40 years of wandering the desert until all the grumblers die off. You think they would have learned at this point. The earth opening up and swallowing several hundreds of people should still the rebellious heart.

And they get up the next morning and start complaining as if they were the victims instead of accomplices. I guess the only lesson they learned was not to grumble directly at God, but His chosen instruments and messengers. It took the sign of Aaron's budding staff to get the people to acknowledge what faith and their circumstances should have made obvious.

Let me not be such a person. Let me be grateful for what He is doing in my life, accepting that His will is the best way for me. Let me be accountable to Him, and a whiny victim. But I fear I will grumble as I move forward. I have lately.

But only on the days I get up and start thinking on my own instead of relying on the Lord.

February 13, 2009

Your Cost

"...it cost Him but a word to create the worlds, but to redeem a sinner's soul cost Him all that He had..."
Marcus Rainsford - Our Lord Prays For His Own

A simple set of words, not even a complete sentence in the book, but they hit me hard. It took more on God's part to redeem me than to create everything. And yet He loves me enough to do it.

It took more to redeem me as a sinner than to create everything that has ever been created. I can only licve with that because He has forgiven me and brings me into His rest, His joy.

If you ever think yourself worthy of God's redeeming grace, just think about the cost, greater than the universe, for Him to give it to you.

If you ever think yourself unworthy of God's redeeming grace, just think of His love, which measures even greater than the cost to do so.

February 12, 2009

Good News

Take the time to watch. It is a great way to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

Need to Know/Nice to Know

I was thinking about yesterday's post after I posted it, thinking a bit about what I had said. Then I saw this passage in the reading I am doing in The Institutes of The Christian Religion by John Calvin, and it made me think more, going off in a little different direction:

And what concern is it to us to know anything more about devils or to know it for another purpose? Some persons grumble that Scripture does not in numerous passages set forth systematically and clearly that fall of the devils, its cause, manner, time, and character. But because this has nothing to do with us, it was better not to say anything, or at least to touch upon it lightly, because it did not befit the Holy Spirit to feed our curiosity with empty histories to no effect. And we see that the Lord's purpose was to teach nothing in his sacred oracles except what we should learn to our edification.
Calvin Institutes 1.14.16

My thoughts went beyond can and cannot know to need to know and nice to know. Here Calvin is talking about the devil, and how much we know (what we need to know) and how much more that could be known (nice to know).

Scripture gives us what we need, but we always want more. I can think of many topics that have been debated over the centuries: old earth vs. new earth, the rapture (pre-tribulation or post tribulation), the Trinity, the divine vs. the human nature of Jesus just to name a couple. Topics we have wanted to know so much more than we have available to us, so we argue and speculate, split churches and start wars. We are a proud, stiff necked bunch.

I am confident that all I need to know has been laid out in Scripture, if it is not in there, if it is subject to varying interpretations of equal merit, then I probably do not need to know. To demand I know all is to show the hubris of thinking I should be on a par with the sovereign God of creation. Wrong.

I trust Him to tell me what I need, and will fight my pride not to focus on what it would be nice to know.

February 11, 2009

What You Cannot Check and What You Can

" We cannot look into the Book of Life and see whether our names are amongst those of whom the Lord says, "thine they were, and thou gavest them me"; but we can look into the Word of God..."

Marcus Rainsford - Our Lord Prays For His Own

What a great way to look at Scripture. We can read it and know with assurance how our salvation is achieved, yet there is much we cannot understand now. And that makes no difference, because we can know what we need to know from it. In our pride we want to be able to understand all there is to Scripture, and many will dismiss those portions that clearly require a sovereign God because our finite existence and minds cannot comprehend. When you reflect on Scripture, that should not be a surprise:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)

So, you may not understand without difficulty, but you can so believe.

February 10, 2009

Question Not/Judge Not

A couple of notes on two verses, three years apart to the day in my journal, somehow tied together a few thoughts that had been moving around the dustier parts of my brain recently:

So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the LORD. Leviticus 22:31 (NASB)

We are not to question the Lord in His sovereign ways.

He said to the judges, "Consider what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD who is with you when you render judgment. 2 Chronicles 19:6 (NASB)

We are not to judge others, that is The Lord's to do. If we need judge, do it in His name, not our own.

So how are those tied together you ask? (Fair question, I had to ask it of myself as well)

Things had been getting confusing for me the past few weeks, and I have to learn to come before God to seek counsel and not sit there trying to figure it out myself. And the thought that popped in and out of my head was that we are all confused in one way or another as none of us can buy into God's plan 100%, because we are sinners at our core. So I do not want to be judged by other sinners, struggling with their own issues, nor do they want my judgment. I am sure I have said or done things over the past few weeks that have made more than one person roll their eyes when I was out of earshot.

The problem with that is their own causing of noisy eye rolling in how they are living their lives. We are all in the same situation, the world full of the silence of noisy eye rolling, a deafening silence.

So we can question each other, but in love and sympathy, willing to accept the same.

So we are not to judge, but to try to hold one another accountable to what the Lord has laid out for us.

February 9, 2009

Would You Have Known Him

Would you have known Him
As He walked to your doom?
A life given over,
Just a man, but much more.
A piercing light
In the sinful gloom.

Would you have known Him
As He staggered by?
Beaten and bloodied
Footsteps on cold stone
Leaving no impression
Yet making His mark
Death a shouted cry.

Would you have known Him
As He Crossed your path?
Would you felt the power
Hidden from the crowd?
Could you have borne His burden?
Could you face God's wrath?

Would you have known Him
Been glad or fully ashamed?
Knowing you could never
Make the sacrifice He did.
Do you tremble with awe or dread
At the coming of His reign?

A. Coticchio February 2009

February 8, 2009

OK, I Think I Get It

I can admit when I am wrong (but not easily so don't get too excited). I have been using Twitter, and I have been moaning and groaning about it. The other day, I went on a friend's blog and saw that the comments section was closed to all comments. I tweeted him and he fixed the problem, the system had somehow done it without his knowledge.

It was fixed, in like a minute. I've read the stories in the media about how the first info comes out of Twitter, an earthquake in California, an emergency plane landing in the Hudson River. But I could not make the personal connection. I finally see for myself that the turn around time in a Twitter-like service is lightning fast. I still have to manage the inflow of tweets, but I am working on it. Because the key to that fast speed and pace is in keeping pace with what is going on in your particular tweetosphere.

I have spent some time thinking how I do that in my life, but I get it now.

February 7, 2009

What Will Following Your Own Blog Do To The Internet?

I was wondering if it is possible to make the internet ingest itself, like a snake eating it's own tail, engaging in feeding upon itself until nothing is left.

Is it possible? If I follow my own blog, will the internet begin to search into itself, finding the nexus of the universe?

Or should I just go back to reading my class assignments?

What If God Was More Like Me

"When you grow up and have children, I hope they are just like you".

MomC Circa-1970's

Uh oh. Now that is a Def Con 5 threat if I ever heard one. That would be bad, really bad. I know what I was like (still am to a large extent). Kids like me? What nasty, evil,sinful little creatures they would be. Trust me on this one.

That got me to thinking, I do not want a child to be as I was, how about my God, my Lord and Savior? That would be even worse than the kiddie scenario.

God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Numbers 23:19 (NASB)

Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.

1 Samuel 15:29 (NASB)

There is my assurance that God is not going to be like me. Or you. Or anyone else we know. I read these two verses in a nighttime devotional a few days ago and they stuck with me.

Can you imagine the mess if God, wholly and totally sovereign, gave in to our faults and foibles, our sin nature and human frailties? Jesus, fully man and fully God, was able to be sinless on our behalf and pulled us out of our muck and mire. Imagine if He hadn't?

Can you imagine what you would do with unlimited power and no accountability?

How blessed are we that He is not like us; how blessed are we that He loves us even though we are not like and can never be wholly like Him. MomC knew what she was talking about. God knows what He is doing.

February 6, 2009

Sojourners Filmmaker Challenge

A buddy of mine made this video for a Sojourners challenge. I think it is an intriguing idea that he is proposing. What do you think?

Win A Free Book!

Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

True Service

It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a
hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God
requires becoming a "doormat" under other people’s feet...Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and
exhausted— not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister? Some
saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude,
because they feel such service is beneath their dignity.
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost For His Highest

What Dwight Pentecost calls "taking up the towel", serving in humility, serving with selfless love.Not for your benefit, but for others. Possibly to your own detriment.

Service with a price, but one you are willing to pay. A high standard set by Jesus:

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands,
and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God,
got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself.Then
He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet
and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. John 13:3-5 (NASB)

Service like this I struggle to perform. May I do better going forward.

February 5, 2009

Teachable Moments

Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight Consider too, that this nation is Your people." And He said, "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest."
Exodus 33:13-14 (NASB)
We are teachable at any given moment if we come before the Lord with an attitude of humility and willingness to learn. God wants us to learn and grow closer to Him, God wants us to grow in Him.

And if we come before the Lord, asking to know Him, to know His ways, He will respond to us as He did to Moses in this passage.

He will let us enter His rest.

February 4, 2009

Show Us Your Man Cave

Here are a couple of shots of my man cave, where most of my study and all of my blogging occurs. Where is your fortress of solitude? Where do you retreat to get away from the pressures of the world?

I'd like to see yours. Put up a pic or two and let me know where they are.

What does your man cave say about you as a person? Mine says I let it dark and I am running out of space for books. Seminary is doing me in!

Pardon Meme - Or I was going to put a list of 25 interesting things about my life together but I kept falling asleep while I was compiling the list.

First things first. To everyone I have tagged in a meme, or a note or whatever, please accept my heartfelt apology.

Next, to all who have tagged me, thanks for thinking of me. No really, thanks. I mean it.

But here comes the next next. I am done, both tagging or responding to tags. Sorry, I do not want to play anymore. I have watched these roil through the blogosphere and Facebook pages like the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. In my mind at least, it has been that bad. (Actually, this movie reference was just to get one of those odd bits of memory flotsam jutting out of my mind and onto a page in the hope I am freed from the torment of remembering anymore. The post could have done fine without it)

I have ignored several "tags" the past few days, I apologize, I still love you all. But like I said, I am done.

I just felt that the situation called for a futile and stupid gesture be done on someone's behalf, and I was just the guy to do it. (How about that, a second movie reference). And I learned something else. In Blogger you cannot make your title longer than the one I picked. Well maybe a space or two more but that is it. I know, I tried.

It seems that many are enjoying doing this, and I say more power to you. It is just not for me. And I feel others feel the same way.

Now give me 3 reasons why I am right or wrong.

February 3, 2009

Enter His Rest

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
Hebrews 4:1 (NASB)

Entering His rest. It hit me this week that it means listening to His voice. Following His will. Leaving my plans behind and following His. When I make my plans, plot out my life, that is when things do not work out. I am just not that good at figuring out the future.

After a few weeks of struggling within my own mind, I finally listened to His. And with it comes His rest, and the peace of mind of knowing that I am on the right path. Not that things are easier, just calmer and clearer to me. Life is still messy, but somehow I am cleaner, less clutter.

How long will this feeling last? I know the timing exactly. It will last until I start planning things on my own again and stop listening to His voice and staying in His rest.

February 2, 2009

Periodic Table Of Condiments

clipped from looku.com
Table of When Condiments Go Bad
I could have used this table over the weekend as we cleaned out the refrigerator and pantry.

A Living God

Several years ago I was president of a subsidiary of a major company. I had a very talented staff that was a challenge to manage on a day in, day out basis. They all had one thing in common. They all felt they could do a better job than me in running the company. The higher ups in the corporation must have felt differently since I was running it. Some of my decisions they were OK with, some made them less than happy. Those are the ones people seem to remember.

When I was reassigned someone else took over and a funny thing happened. All of a sudden my presidency was viewed as not that bad a situation. Some measure of the "good old days" were assigned the AndyC era. My take on it when I was tlod about it: presidents, like artists, seem to grow in popularity after they have been dead a while.

There are some things some people prefer dead. Like artists and presidents. And many prefer a dead god. One they can control, one that pretty much has to do what he or she is told, because after all, a dead god is really a figment of someone's wishful thinking or imagination.

The thought of a living God terrifies them. They will reject it out of hand.

I like the fact that I serve a living God. It is the thought of an angry One that terrifies me. I am thankful He is loving and gracious, merciful but just. The fact that He is just is going to cause a lot of people a lot of heartburn one day (and body and soul burn as well).

I serve a living God and He blesses me every day. What a gift He has given me.

February 1, 2009

Super Bowl Commercials

They do not make Super Bowl Commercials like they used to. If you were watching the game 25 years ago, you remember this one from the third quarter. It never aired on TV after that showing (although it did air once before and previewed in movies for a few weeks). This was one that you sat there and said "What is this?" or something to that effect. Classic.

Washing Feet

Some excerpts from The Daily Spurgeon of a few days ago tie in with a recent lecture at seminary:

If there be any deed of kindness or love that we can do for the very
meanest and most obscure of God’s people, we ought to be willing to do
it - to be servants to God’s servants — to feel like Abigail did, when
she said to David, “Let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of
the servants of my Lord.” Abigail became David’s wife, that is the true
position of every Christian; but yet she felt she was not worthy even
to wash his servants’ feet. That must be our spirit.

Especially let those who are highest among us seek to do the lowest offices.
“Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”
Recollect that Christ’s way of rising is to go down...Try to
carry out every one of you to your utmost the teaching of your Lord,
that ye should wash one another’s feet.

From a sermon entitled "Jesus Washing His Disciples' Feet," delivered January 29, 1865.

My seminary professor called this attitude "taking up the towel". Being willing to be a servant, to assume a lowly position, the lowest in the room, in order to serve as Christ was willing to serve.

This is not an attitude or position I assume all that willingly. But to serve in a less than joyful manner is not to serve as Jesus would want us to.

I need to do better. Are you willingly and joyfully taking up the towel?