Fri, Mar 30th - 11:51AM
Doing the right thing
Something I need to study on, I think.
You don't always get a good feeling from doing the right thing. I don't think it is just a simple thing to deal with and we will always be happy. But I still need to wade through this some more. So, I thought I'd share. You might have an insight I lack.
The examples that come to my mind are from my military background. These are not things I have had to do, but have talked with those who have and can relate to what they felt.
The first one is something that is purely dreadful. For whatever the reason, (compassion for the ones left behind, perhaps) when a soldier falls or is severely wounded or officially becomes MIA, someone is sent to notify the next of kin face to face. Telling someone their son or daughter or mother or father or spouse or sibling is gone or maimed is a horrible duty. The reaction is never good. The best you ever get is a sort of numbness from the person hearing the message. Sometimes the reaction is a quiet and bitter rage that you can see in their eyes, feeling as if you are the object of that rage. Sometimes there is beating and thrashing and wailing -- very physical and very uncomfortable manifestations. It just never leaves you feeling good.
The second one is not so bad universally, but still something hard to be joyous over. It is giving the flag that was draped over a coffin to the one who will receive it. It is so hard to think of how this can be good, and yet I know that sharing their pain, even with the distance that military protocol dictates, is the right thing to do. Maybe I should put on a smile and say "Let the dead bury their own", but that is number one, judgemental, and two heartless and mean. I don't think I could do that.
These examples may only stand on their own, and not fit some general pattern. I don't know. Still, I want to do the right thing, even when it causes me pain and sorrow.
Wed, Mar 28th - 6:29PM
A matter of the heart
1So six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had died and whom He had raised from the dead.
2So they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those at the table with Him.
3Mary took a pound of ointment of pure liquid nard [a rare perfume] that was very expensive, and she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, the one of His disciples who was about to betray Him, said,
5Why was this perfume not sold for 300 denarii [a year's wages for an ordinary workman] and that [money] given to the poor (the destitute)?
6Now he did not say this because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief; and having the bag (the money box, the purse of the Twelve), he took for himself what was put into it [pilfering the collections].
7But Jesus said, Let her alone. It was [intended] that she should keep it for the time of My preparation for burial. [She has kept it that she might have it for the time of My embalming.]
8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me. (John 12:1-8 AMP)
Mary again is used as an example. (And Jesus shows us an example as well -- a subtle one we may miss...)
What was going on here? I mean, Judas had a point, did he not? Often times the 'give until it hurts' drum is beat to the point of becoming deafening. We trudge on, and do it dutifully, but our heart is not in it. "Do the right thing and you heart will follow." Well, yes, that is true to a point. But if it becomes vexing, your heart will resist, and the opposite can happen.
And what about Jesus? We are to believe that he who had no sin could take part in this? I mean, come on! This is selfishness at it's worst! Jesus does not need this! (or do you believe that any need He had would be denied by the Heavenly Father?)
No, it is not for his need that he did this. Something else then? Hmm...
Maybe Mary needed something? Ah! Of course! Her need to express this love was so intense that it needed firmament to express itself in. She needed to do something concrete. So then, Jesus, appearing to be selfish, indeed was not. Judas, on the other hand, appearing to be righteous, had a cold, dark heart. (why else was this expository on his state of heart put here, I wonder?)
The central theme of this passage to me is this: Things can appear to be good or bad, but in the end, it is the heart that matters most.
P.S. I have a hard time being gracious to those who compliment me. Can you read into this that I see even that simple (vain) humility to be sin itself? I struggle on! God Grant Me Great Grace! AMEN!
Mon, Mar 26th - 4:20PM
Just a thought I am pondering a bit and might have something to say. I was thinking about this last post, hoping someone would challenge me being 'selfish', but alas, no-one rose to the bait!
Fri, Mar 23rd - 1:33AM
Small Miracles -- God's Providence on my birthday
It thought I'd share this with you, because in this small thing, my children were part of God's providence, and in being used by him, were blessed as well!
Today is/was my birthday. My parents sent me $50 in a card that I got last week. That is about normal. What is not so very normal is getting it before my birthday. (not that I take that badly -- I seem to share the same fault, if not worse) Additionally, this time, I was in a good enough financial position that I could actually spend it <gasp!!!> on myself! I wanted to be able to tell my mother what I had gotten for myself. She almost always asks, and I rarely can say anything other than "I'll get myself something -- don't worry," or some such nonsense. I know and she knows, even if I intend it at the moment, that is not how it usually goes.
Now then I am a game player. Just recently I had some credit at a game store that I sold some old games through on consignment. (The way it works is that I get credit for the selling price, with a small part -- 10%, I think, going in their pockets, but I have to spend the credit there. It's a fair deal, in my book.) So I bought myself some "HEROCLIX", a game I had gained an interest in. I thought I was spending all my credit, but didn't quite do it. That is very unusal for me, because I am quite adept with math in my head. Providence one. I did not have the time to go back and get that 'one more thing' that really caught my eye and my math skills had failed me! Understand this perfectly clearly now: My lack of time was a providence from God at this very moment in my life and so was the failure of a fleshly skill I usually can explicitly depend upon!
Monday I meant to go back and buy this thing I wanted. I didn't have time. (again) Actually, I went by the store, but they were already closed. Providence two. God blocked my intentions. Not that he was keeping me from something evil, he just had better plans!
So Tuesday I went back again after work. (Persistance, because my heart was set on it!) What I was looking for was a specific set that had a "Sentinel" in it. It would cost more than I had in credit, but this one was for me and me alone, and I had my birthday money. They did not have it. I was dejected. They had had it wwhen las I was in there. They could get more, but not right now. There was another set that was of some interest to me, but not exactly what I wanted, so I passed on it. I did buy two more "booster" sets, and used up my credit. I took these home.
Now this game uses little minature figures. I didn't even think my girls would be interested in it, and I got it without that consideration the first time. This second purchase, I knew they liked to play with the "Action Figures" (as they call them) with me and it was fully in my consideration. I used the $50 my parents sent me right after leaving there to buy an install kit to put a stereo in the car I recently got, which has a really bad radio that just keeps fritzing out. I spent the money on myself as I had promised myself that I would. If not, because my mind set, I would have been using it to buy something that, yes, I would enjoy, but was not specifically for me. Manifestation of Providence number three that I could see. That little promise to be 'selfish' for the heart of my parents was what kept me from buying more than the couple of "boosters." The promise was made in the past, but my being faithful to that tiny little promise, made only to myself (in other words, if I broke that promise, noone else but God would know) was the very thing that enabled this providence! Even if you knew of that promise, how many of you would have dared to chastise me for breaking something that trivial? To those of you who say you would, I say AMEN!
Unbeknownst to me, my wife and children were out garage sale shopping on Saturday while I was out of town on duty. What do you think they found? A pile of "HEROCLIX", and they got a deal! Now me bringing home those "booster" sets understandably caused a bit of chatter from the girls. My wife was sure they had blown the surprise. Now I am not always attentive to my little ones, frail as I am, and although I can be piercingly perceptive at times, I can also be ignorant and oblivious. God choose for me to be blind to all of this. Their secret was safe! I think even this was a Providence, even if more for them than me!
They gave this pile to me, all wrapped up in paper and bows and very excited about it when I got home tonight. Now to add to this, what do you think was in that pile of "HEROCLIX" they had for me? You got it! They had gotten the exact figure that I had set my heart upon! So while I was earlier disapointed, God not only later gave me in his good time not only what I wanted (which was not evil -- so there was no need to withhold it forever, although it would still be possible for him to have done so) but He added on top of it so much more than I would have ever asked for. I got 86 of these little figures. More than I'd ever buy for myself. As an added bonus, my children, who wish so very much to please their father who is very hard to impress with gifts, got to get me something that I could not help but be excited and overjoyed with! They, the little instruments of God's Providence to me, were greatly blessed in being used that way! And my wife was happy, too. Another blessing!
So then, I am sure I have not plumbed the depths of God's Providence here, but I figured this little story could serve as a parable of sorts, flawed, I am sure, in comparison to the ones Jesus taught. But nonetheless, I will share this little treasure I have found with you so that you might think on what meanings I may have missed and bless me even more!
In Christ's Service,
PS: BTW, the older daughter, Lylli Mae, gave me a card with 17 cents in it. I am not sure of the significance of 17 cents, but I can guarentee you, I will be looking for it!
Tue, Mar 20th - 12:16PM
Motorcycles, Worms and the Word of God
Ok. So I had the title. I had the thought of where I am going with this, but not the time to make the keyboard fly and put it all down. Not that I really have the time now, but I trust God to make up for any lack of sleep and dive in.
Today, I was outside and the conversation turned to Harley Davidson Motorcycles. One woman said that she had a father-in-law who had one, but never rode it. I think she suggested he was getting too old, although I am not positive if she said it or someone else did or if it just was a thought I had that he might be too old. (I suffer from that mark of age -- loss of a clear memory on things from time to time) Anyways, she said she and her husband would be out to get it, and ride it home. (a teasing of the father-in-law -- they were not really doing that) Then someone asked if they had motorcycle endorsements on their licences, and she said that he did not, although she did, so she guessed that would make him the "b!#¢h on the back" A little bit crude, but illustrative of the world around us and the crazy views on men and women that are out there. In my frame of mind, that is what I saw: This Flesh Filled realm that we live in! Save me from this Lord!
So then, I thought of what I have said before: That God can speak to me through a worm on the sidewalk in the middle of a downpour if that is what He chooses to do!
25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
30For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:25-32 (NIV)
How was this made known to Simeon? Did a donkey speak or was it more direct? I don't know!
29The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Acts 8:29 (NIV)
9However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 (NIV)
7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 (NIV)
And Spirit is manifest in many ways...
26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26 (NIV)
I think we worry overly much about the mechanism involved. Be it a Burning Bush, A Donkey, or directly -- The Spirit will work as it will. For me, it seems strange things bring strange thoughts to my mind. I have not yet had a worm provoke a deep thought that I can recall, but should God choose that wriggling worm instead of thunder to remind me of something or teach me something-- I should still listen!
Fri, Mar 16th - 1:55AM
The wonders of the body
Our bodies are wonderful works of art. The use of the metaphor of us being the very body of Christ gives us a way to look at the way the parts of this body work together to get things done. Have you ever thought of how the biceps and triceps pull in opposite directions, and yet how without both to do their part, we could not really use our arms to do what they do? It is simple enough. Without the bone between them, their flexing and exertions would yeild nothing but a bunch of flopping masses of muscle. A little jiggling and not much else. Without the sinews to hold them together, the blood to bring nourishment to them, the skin to protect them, what use would they really be?
At the same time, there is a coordination between them to make them work correctly. They do not both flex at the same time to move the arm. You can read too much into this, but you can also ignore it and miss some insights that might be there. A time and a season for everything. A time to build up and a time to break down! I think that some may think I am breaking things down. I am sowing discord.
That is not my intent! I serve a God of reconciliation, and in that service I am trying to be true! On some of the things I am covering, there is going to be this appearance of discord, not because I am making this discord, but because it already exists! To not face this and acknowlege this and deal with this is not something I am convinced that I should do!
On the subject of men and women in the Church, I see two extremes: One side seems to think that women should do nothing in leadership. Ever! The other side seems to think that women are totally free in all cases to do everything a man can do. To both of these points of view, I must conceed that they can each build a seemingly scriptural arguement for their case. However, I must even more so believe that God's Holy word does not contradict itself, or I myself am lost. And so I must reconcile this in my mind. I can content myself with the belief that it (the complete answer) does exist, even if I have not found it yet. But if I do not seek that truth, I deny my very belief and act in the fear that I will not find the answer because it might not exist. So my act of seeking is an act of affirmation. The complete truth does indeed exist here in God's Word. My seeking it is my way of saying AMEN to everything God would say to me!
Fine, some will say. Reconcile this in your own mind! Leave me out of it!
Are you figuratively telling me to put this under a bushel basket? Are you telling me to attempt to hide the truth? That is not an aspect of God, but an aspect of another Celestial Being, who we are supposed to resist and oppose and even flee from! Please do not suggest it! Suggest that I be gentle. Suggest that I approach this with all humility and seek understanding that I am sure to be lacking. Correct me where I am wrong. Challenge me with refreshing insights! The truth may be that I am breaking things down, so that the Lord can build them back up as they should be.
Maybe I am breaking a bone that has been broken before, but was not set right. Or maybe I am a foolish old man still seeking understanding that can never be complete. Between this, and whatever else it might be, only God can judge!
So what is a body to do?
Thu, Mar 15th - 3:35AM
Another piece in place (I think)
I want to share with you something interesting:
Obviously, Scot McKnight, whose blog this is, makes no distinction between men and women in his perception of authority. I personally find him as extreme as those he accuses of being extreme. In other words, there seems to be a hypocrisy here when he talks about letting the scripture speak but yeilds to the same sin of pride in his own understanding when he ignores or glosses over his opponents' presentations of opposing arguements. There are a few good jewels of thought in the piles of dross. I am still digesting this. Maybe you can help.
However, Jon (Walking in the Light) brings a thought to my attention. When he talks about the bad experiences being used for good, I read other comments and it comes to me: We perceive people, in part, by what they have been through and are aware of. That, in our minds, gives them some sort of station in our framework of thought. I first thought of this as somewhat judgemental, but examined it again and toned back and found it discerning about the truth about the way we are in our sinful flesh. To understand this tendancy, this weakness, if you will, and to be willing to make those stripes we bear, even for our own bad judgement, sometimes speak in an active and compassionate way about the Grace given to us by God through Jesus our Lord is utterly beyond normal comprehension. It is a beautiful thing!
Now take this thought of station, as I put it above. Station can be a powerful thing. It influences, right or wrong, the way we accept the message. Herod, despite the fact that John the Baptist spoke against him in some things, respected him as a Holy and Righteous man, and liked to listen to him. (For those of you who do not believe this, I simply ask you to read Mark 6:20 in full context.) Strange. But that station that John held meant that Herod heard some things that he might not otherwise have ever listened to. Likewise, the message that I hear is influenced by the way it is given to me. My heart can be hard, and coming from the wrong person (for me) that message is taken away without my giving it a chance. I do not think myself alone in this! Maybe you are a woman who will not listen to a man. There are men who will only listen to another man. Anyone else speaking to either of them will be a clanging gong. I think Scot McKnight might think I am agreeing with him at this point. But I am not! He would have this freedom be absolute, not exceptional.
His strongest arguement along these lines is the passage where Huldah is consulted instead of other male Prophets available. He is correct in that assertion that she is not and exception in that way. However, he falls prey to the same presumption of those he argues against here. The presumption is this: That only the lack of a man in that role allows the woman to assume such a role as an exception. What is the heart of King Josiah at this moment, I ask? In the Amplified Version of the Bible 2 Kings 22:13 says this:
13Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us because our fathers have not listened and obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.
Could this cause a particular hardness of King Josiah at this point in time concerning the leadership of men? (and thus, male Prophets) We do not know, or at least I do not. Yet this is possible. And I think the heart of the one who is to receive a message from God is more important than the heart of the one He is sending it through. You think this is wrong? Then explain to me the heart of Jonah and the heart of those living in Nineveh. What was Jonah's heart like? And those whom God spared in Nineveh, what was their heart like?
This is weighty, and I am still wrestling with it. The end may be totally different from what I first thought I saw. God is still working with me through this.
Give us Grace,
Tue, Mar 13th - 11:19AM
If you want to learn: TEACH
Not all of us should attempt to be teachers. I think many of you who have seen me for a while may have noticed that I am now, more or less, teaching. I still caveat (as Jon noticed very quickly, I might add) much of what I say. I take very seriously the idea that we will be judged by our words. Yet I fail so often to keep that on the forefront of my mind. Forgive me for that. James knew what he was talking about when he talked about the 'tongue' and I think this written forum is very much the same as the physical tongue in many ways.
However, fearful as I am of being wrong in what I say and possibly leading others astray, I want you to understand this: I must speak at times. Knowing that, you should also know this: You honor me by challenging me. You force me to think and resonsider everything. To take an idea captive is not an easy thing. Ideas change and wriggle away. I don't want to lose my grip! So then, I present what I understand (teaching) in hopes that you will help me to better understand. You will ask questions I never considered before. So I have to seek out constantly new answers. There is a limit to what I can chase. It is impossible to know all, and knowledge puffs us up. But, knowledge is not bad, itself. A paradox. I love those things, they keep my mind moving!
I don't know that by teaching, I have become a teacher. I don't ask you all to be teachers, but to consider the benifit for the whole body if you have something, no matter how odd, to share. Share. Not put forth as if in stone. Not to cause division over silly things. But I am willing to talk and think about silliness from time to time. I hope God approves of that!
Be blessed dear brothers and sisters,
Sat, Mar 10th - 4:31PM
Abdication or Usurption?
A couple of ways in which another rises to power. Both are not the way God intended. Both have a party who is primarly to blame (if we need to lay blame, that is) for this kind of transfer of authority and responsibilty. In one case, because we need to have someone be responsible, we can see what has happened as one who has abandoned their post. The post needs to be guarded, no matter how boring. Can you hold the person who stands there in their stead to be wrong? In the other case, the person who stands there finds that another has come along and wrested control from them. Can we hold them accountable if they were unable to maintain their postition, despite their best efforts?
I am speaking metaphorically of men and women in the Church, dear friends. I am speaking of husbands and wives. Can you see this and discern the difference? Put this in light of what I have recently said and you may begin to understand where I am at with this. Thank you for your precious time in this. I am not yet done, but I feel I must put some minds at ease. I hope this serves that purpose.
Sat, Mar 10th - 3:46PM
The Extra Mile
Matthew 5:41 (NIV)
41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
I am not 100% certain this is correct. I think I searched this out and found it to be trustworthy, but I take no offense in being corrected here in where I might be wrong...
In Jesus' day, a Roman Soldier could press anyone in the subjegated lands to carry his pack for one mile. (I think the measure was different, but the concept the same) After that they were released to go back to their own affairs, and as a matter of Roman Law, they could not be pressed into further service. A soldier's pack is a heavy thing. If he always carries this pack, it can be wearisome. So it was common to take advantage of this.
The Roman Soldier represented the oppression of God's Chossen People at that time. It would be fair to say that they were considered an enemy by many Jewish people. What was Jesus' answer to this? First of all, obedience. Obey what you are to obey. He does not spell out compassion on your enemy specifically, (actually he does in a later verse, but not this one) but I wonder about this. Why did the Romans limit this to one mile (or whatever the measure was) and not make it limitless? Could it be that beyond that measure, it would become oppressive enough to give rise to rebellion? I mean, if it were not convenient to go that distance, but just below that level where that pack really starts to weigh heavy on your shoulders, would that make sense?
If that were the case, what would you think about that first mile? The burden would not seem so bad, but the inconvenience of the matter would annoy you. I don't think you would easily come to the good frame of mind that God would have you possess. Go the extra mile, where the burden starts to hurt, and your feet drag, and I think the door will open in your mind to let you see this soldier you are carrying this burden for carrying it over some long treacherous journey. You may not come to that realization until you give the pack back to him, and on some occassion or another, some soldier gives a heartfelt but obviously weary thank you, as he takes his own pack up again.
Some of you will see this as an allegory for spreading God's Word. I think you are right! But it does not stop there. This is an allegory for one way in which God teaches you to have that heart and frame of mind he desires in all of us.
I'll keep this short. You can take this one on for quite a while. It is a worthwhile journey I leave you to take up or not.
In Peace, Your Fellow Soldier in Christ,
Thu, Mar 8th - 10:52AM
A quote worth pondering
"What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." - Martin Luther King Jr.
Mon, Mar 5th - 4:11PM
Let me just post a quick idea sketch on this subject:
We seem to have this 'transactional' mentality when it comes to marriage and relationships. I speak from experience of my own mind set here, but I do not think I am off the mark for others around me as best as I can see.
What I mean by this is that 'I will do this, because or if, you do (or will do) this for me.' It is a transaction. An exchange of goods. A contract with quid pro quo. In relationships, it equates to prostitution. I say that because if the consideration recieved is reason for the consideration given, then love is not the motivation, as it was intended to be. Remember that phrase 'keeps no record of wrongs?' I do. I have done wrongs. Many, in fact, and I can feel the oppresive weight of their being held against me! (Not by God, mind you. I am pretty well, although not perfectly, secure in his grace.) I am not saying that there should not be consequences for these wrongs. Judgement should be tempered with mercy, however.
I have a feeling that this is the way of most relationships in our perverse society. It is so much the norm, that we cannot see the wrongness of it! I will posit the idea that because this is prevalent even among Christians, that they mirror the divorce rates of the secular world around them.
'Loyalty is the one coin, that if you give it out again and again, even to those who do not deserve it, will eventually come back to you.'
That is a paraphrase of something that was said to me in the military a long time ago that stuck with me, and I cannot even attribute it to the person who gave it to me, I am sad to say. I now see it applying to marriage. It has been a long way for me to find this. And I would not have found it but for the suffering I endure(d) to learn it. Be Joyful and Glad! (still not for the suffering itself, but at least for the fruit it bears!)
If the husband does nothing outwardly that could be said as adulterous by the strictest strictures of the Old Testament Law, or even inwardly he was 'pure' in all the Lawful Respects, I would say that he was still an adulterer by this standard of love if he failed in it. Similarly, I hold women and their responses in the same light. Am I wrong?
But saying this, I do not intend to judge, for I myself am failing in this respect. However, I ask you to consider your motivations towards your spouse. If it is 'transactional', purge that sinful nature from you. Rather seek to do everything in the pure motivation of love. If you cannot, I will not be harsh on those of you who do the right things for the wrong reasons and are still struggling in this. I do so myself. I still harbor those desires of compensation, as if I earned it!
In His Grace,
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