Years ago, I was present during a law enforcement event; I think it was some kind of range training seminar, and the room was filled with cops.For those unfamiliar with this kind of environment, it is somewhat unique, with the exception of the military, and really has to be experienced first hand to be appreciated.A room full of cops or military personnel, is a tough crowd indeed, and not for the timid.
A friend of mine was the instructor in overall charge of the entire block of training, and as he entered the room for the first time, and all eyes were assessing him, he quietly stated, “I have a confession to make.I am a heterosexual trapped in a man’s body.”There followed a very grave moment of shocked silence – before the explosion of laughter.He had their complete attention from that moment – hard to achieve in that crowd.
With not nearly that weight, and yet even more importantly, let me say, “I am possessed”, and if you are a Christian, you are too.The problem occurs when we do not recognize our possession.
Especially during this time of year we have numerous quarters focusing our attention on possessions.The world wants us to buy and have more of them, and the churches want us to relegate our possessions to second place, and focus on God’s gift to us.I understand all that, and you do too, but I ask you to focus your attention on the fact, easily verifiable, that all Christians are possessed – by God – rather than the other way around.And as such, we are His possessions.
In 1st Peter 2:9, the apostle writes, ‘But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for GOD’S OWN POSSESSION.’Now I have no problem boosting my self esteem by thinking of myself as part of a chosen race or a royal priesthood, but I do have a problem thinking of myself as someone else’s possession, but let’s consider it.
We all own things – those things are our own possessions, and we have the legal right to do what we want with them.I own a car, and if I wanted to, I could give it away; no strings attached, or drive it any time on any public roadway in America.And as long as I break no laws, there is absolutely nothing that can alter my use of that car.The car belongs completely to me (once it’s paid off) – it is all and entirely MINE.It’s not yours, no matter how much you may want it, because it’s already mine.
In the same way I have legal rights to my car, God has legal claim on my life – that’s what ‘redeemed’ means – we were ‘bought with a price’, and consequently we do not own ourselves.Oh, but how we fight it!Frankly, most of the time when we sing, “You are my God”, we mean God is our possession.Perhaps, way back in our heads, we actually think that Christ redeemed (“bought back”) us so that God could be ours – our own possession.No wonder we get mad at Him when He refuses to jump to our prayer “requests”.We think our requests are rightfully “demands” of an open-handed God who promised to answer us if we used the magic words, “In Jesus’ name”.How offensive this attitude must be to God!It’s amazing He answers as many prayers as He does!
Perhaps this season of the year we should focus our attention on changing the way we do business.To mature at all, we must come to grips with the fact that we are God’s possessions – and He can use His possessions any way He sees fit.We are hindered in our growth and our prayers if we do not make this realization one of our life’s pillars, and we are blessed by God if we do.Read on in 1st Peter and note the references to the right kind of suffering.
The right kind of suffering always carries blessing – the wrong kind is just a painful waste of time and life.And as God’s own possessions, we may indeed be called to suffer (1st Peter ), but don’t we hate to hear that?
We were bought with a price.We are the personal possessions of God, to be used in His plan, His way.
I am an enigma, wrapped in mystery, living on borrowed time.We all are.All this went through my mind as I lay awake on my bed tonight.
I had an odd dream about my uncle; odd for two reasons – I seldom dream about relatives, or remember if I do, and I usually don’t remember my dreams.
But this uncle and I, we had a connection I could feel as a small child.I have always known about the connection, but I have never tried to explain it, even to myself.I’m not talking about the factual kind of connections we have in our families, like acknowledging we are of a certain lineage, but similar, within the lineage, for there are many in our lineages we never knew, or ever will.
For most of us, these mystical connections remain unrealized, shrouded from our view, just out of sight, but something like my dream tonight, momentarily brings the links into focus, then fades back of sight, lost again back into the fog banks of our minds.
As I remember, my uncle was part of the invasion force poised to strike the home islands of Japan just before the war ended in 1945.I vaguely remember him in a khaki uniform after he came back home, and he brought me gifts which I’ve since lost.Several years later I attended his wedding – Iowa, I think, and I remember his infamous sense of humor for several years after that.Then came the split with the family, and I lost track of him entirely.
I’ll probably never know the details, for I only heard sketches of them from one side of the argument, and it would be many years before I learned there are always two sides.My aunt said my uncle had found religion, and rejected the rest of us.I believed it for years, in a vague sort of way, but now it doesn’t seem to make much sense, and I suspect my aunt misstated the points she misunderstood.
But as I awoke tonight, I realized how sad I was that my uncle has lived his life, had his children and grand children, and I have missed it all.To me, he has been like an unrelated relative.And tonight it saddens me, for some reason.
Someone once said we who live are the points of the spears for our families, and all who have gone before.That’s a poor paraphrase, but you get the point (no pun).Some day soon our turns at being the points of the spears will be over, and we find ourselves daily slipping back, off the points to the shafts, and then gone; a grand continuum, fully known only by God.
But as we yet live, we are fellow enigmas, wrapped in mystery, living on borrowed time.And maybe to God, some of us are like presents, gift wrapped for Him, only enigmas to ourselves.
I hope I and my lost uncle (and you), are indeed gift wrapped for God.And I expect that some day, He will unwrap those gifts and explain the mystery.
I made cookies yesterday, and as usual I substituted almond flavoring in place of vanilla.In most recipes I prefer almond to vanilla.When I was a child I was a miniature Cookie Monster, and it was no big deal for me to wolf down a dozen Christmas (not “Holiday”) cookies.My mother liked having a cookie monster by her side as she made cookies, and I loved her cookies.She also favored flavoring other than vanilla, but I didn’t know it then – I just enjoyed “helping” her.But now, as I bake, I am acutely aware of the differences in spices and flavorings.Innocence lost!
For the last several months I have been grappling with a recurrent concept, and have been nibbling around the edges of it as I try to express what I’m thinking.I don’t think I’ve really expressed it very well, and it’s frustrating to just miss.
Several months ago I spoke with a person who had studied the Greek language, and as awesome as his knowledge seemed to be, I strongly felt he was missing something vital.We spoke of New Testament passages, which he patiently explained to me by way of his education in the Greek language, the language of the New Testament writers.And as he “educated” me in the language and its nuances of meanings, I fought the temptation to buy into his interpretations.I was tempted to do so because I’m a real linguistic dolt, and English is usually a challenge to me.The temptation was to believe as he believed simply because he understood the Greek language, and I did not.
Then this morning, while listening to our devotionals, I was struck by the contrast of Peter the fisherman and Peter the Apostle.Can anyone see the impetuous fisherman in 1st and 2nd Peter?And last night in a bible study we read the passage where the resurrected Jesus ‘opened’ the scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.The scriptures He opened to them had been in existence for many generations before any of the disciples lived, and yet Jesus had to ‘open’ them.And later they testified that their ‘hearts burned’ as He opened them.
Years ago, a friend of mine told me he would rather present the Gospel to anyone other than “church people”, because many church people had been “inoculated against the truth”.Since his particular calling seemed to be focused on church people, I suspect he spoke the truth.Look at all the doctrinal arguments Jesus engaged in with the Pharisees, and yet the same Jesus ‘opened’ the scriptures to the relatively uneducated travelers on the Emmaus Road.The truth is, the Pharisees, by their arguments, were rejecting the truth.They too, had been inoculated against the truth, as will we, if we elevate our education and our educated opinions over the truth.
Truth capitalized is Jesus Himself.It is the job of the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to us – in whatever way or ways He deems relevant.If the Holy Spirit doesn’t ‘open’ the scriptures to us, no Greek scholar will be able to do it for Him.Learning Greek, or any other Bible language, will only let us know what the flavoring is in the cookie; the cookie itself is not the spice or flavoring, but it will be enjoyed by all cookie lovers none the less.
My dad used to say he never had a bad cherry pie.It took me years to digest what he said, but I love cherry pies, and I can’t remember a bad one either.I’ve had some that were rich in flavor, and some that tasted like the can the cherries came from – but I loved them all!
So thanks for the Greek lesson – it helped me appreciate the flavoring in the food, but thank God I’ve not substituted the flavoring for the food.
You pastors out there – try to realize that God didn’t call you to propagate Greek scholars, or to awe your flocks with your education – He called you to express to your congregations the very same Jesus the disciples walked with on the way to Emmaus, the Jesus only the Holy Spirit can reveal, and no amount of doctrine, education or research can take His place.
Wonder why the churches are chronically under-attended?‘We would see Jesus’, and only burning hearts testify to the encounter.
Name: John Miltenberger ChristiansUnite ID: jmilty Member Since: 2006-08-22 Location: Estes Park, Colorado, United States Denomination: Born-again believer About Me: Retired from Overland Park, Kansas and now living in Estes Park, Colorado. Another escapee from the Midwest!!