Posts Tagged ‘theology’


QUOTE (Thomas Aquinas) – Jan 28

January 28, 2014

The fifth of Thomas Aquinas' proofs of God's e...

“God Himself is the rule and mode of virtue. Our faith is measured by divine truth, our hope by the greatness of His power and faithful affection, our charity by His goodness. His truth, power and goodness outreach any measure of reason. We can certainly never believe, trust or love God more than, or even as much as, we should. Extravagance is impossible. Here is no virtuous moderation, no measurable mean; the more extreme our activity, the better we are.”
~ Thomas Aquinas

In honor of Thomas Aquinas, an immensely influential theologian and philosopher whose Summa Theologica is one of the most influential documents in medieval theology.  He was born on this day in 1225.

Today in History – January 28
Thomas Aquinas > Quotes > Quotable Quote

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May 30, 2013

“Bless the Lord, O my soul!  O Lord my God, you are very great!”  Psalm 104:1a

We live in a remarkable age for the discovery of talent.  There are so many outlets through which people with talent can be found.  I am continually amazed at the singers who are discovered through various reality shows that are seeking the next musical star.  Many had sung in anonymity at coffee shops, bars, weddings and church choirs for years while their talent was deserving of a record deal.

WordPress and the other blog hosts have a staggering number of blogs.  There are millions of people in this world who have something to write.  I am continually stumbling across very talented writers in my web-surfing who cause me to exclaim, “They should write a book.”  So many of these wonderful writers have followers in the double digits, yet they are great writers.

The discovery of greatness does not cause greatness.  Consider the vast number of extraordinarily talented people who have passed through this world unknown.  Just think about all the brilliance that will go unrecognized this year alone.

I have just started reading the book; Galileo’s Daughter by Ava Sobel.  In 1609, Galileo Galilei came across a curious new Dutch invention called the spyglass.  By the end of that year, he had invented the first telescope with double the magnification of the original spyglass.  Galileo was the first person to truly see the expanse of the universe.  He was the first person to discover the mysteries of the moon.  He found the moons of Jupiter.  He probed the meanings of sunspots that had never been seen.

Galileo Galilei. Portrait by Ottavio Leoni. De...

Galileo Galilei. Portrait by Ottavio Leoni. Detail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Galileo discovered a greatness in the sky that was previously unknown.

Galileo declared, Holy Scripture and Nature are both emanations from the divine word: the former dictated by the Holy Spirit, the latter the observant executrix of God’s command.

The greatness of God as revealed through the expanse of the night sky had been hidden since creation.  However, just because it was not discovered by man does not mean God was not equally great through all that time.

I wonder at the vast number of un-observed executrix of God’s command that we blindly pass by every day of our short lives.  Why would God create such wonders that man is incapable of beholding?  Why would He give gifts that are never discovered?  Why would He make beauty where eyes are absent?

God has made this world in the manner in which it has been made because He is great.  This world was not created for us.  It was created for Him.  This world is an expression of Him.  We simply are observers.  We are not the purpose.

No marvel that has gone unobserved by mere man has ever been wasted.  They are not wasted because we are not their purpose.  They were not made for man.  They were made for the Creator.  There is so much of the complexity of creation that is beyond our comprehension.

There are levels of God’s glory that are simply beyond us. 

The gifts of talents and abilities, undiscovered for the masses, have never been wasted.  They are not wasted because those gifts were not made for man.  They were made for the Creator.  The writer who writes without a readership still is fulfilling his or her purpose.  They are writing for the glory of the Lord.  The art that is never seen in a gallery is still of immense value because the artist’s talent is proclaiming the hand of the Creator.  The musician without an audience is an undiscovered marvel that was made for the praise of the Creator.

We are all a part of the executrix of God’s command.  Let us play our part in full accord and gladness.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

PRAYER: Bless the Lord, O my soul!  O Lord my God, you are very great.  Thank you for blessing me with your greatness.  Thank you for giving me glimpses of what is completely beyond me.  Forgive me for lapsing into thinking that this world is about me and for me.  It is all about you, O Lord.  Father, help me to think beyond myself.  Help me to be content in serving you.  Free me of the bondage of the praise of man.  Show me that there is nothing greater than pleasing you and you alone.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“…BUT I’M RIGHT” – May 28

May 29, 2013

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.”  Romans 14:1

English: St. Augustine arguing with donatists.

English: St. Augustine arguing with donatists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A discussion about the subtleties of particular theological positions can feel like a mine field.  I have some family members with whom I have agreed to an armistice regarding certain branches of theology.  They never seem to go well; just hint at predestination and the tension in a Sunday School class will escalate.  Most of us have experienced discussions that are religious in nature which have quickly turned into various degrees of quarrels.  After one of these chats, my wife no longer accepts my explanations that start with, “All I said was…”  It is why I am effectively banned from such discussions at most social gatherings.

I don’t know why I get myself in those situations.  It is the rare occasion when I have one of these discussions with a person with whom I disagree and I walk away feeling uplifted, encouraged, and joyful.  I wonder how often God is glorified in these intense theological discussions.

The list for which we Christians have drawn hard theological lines is very long:

Bible Translation             Style of Worship   Eschatology                    Predestination
Days of Celebration  Baptism    Clothing          Alcohol  Tobacco         Days of Worship

We get all worked up about them because we are so convinced in what we believe.  Yet, I wonder how many of these quarrelsome issues will really matter in the end.

The fact that we are so convinced is actually a good thing.  We should be convinced about how we live our faith.  Our faith should matter to us enough that we have at least an opinion.  We should be confident about how we walk in the Spirit.  We should be decisive in the decisions we make regarding that which we partake and abstain.  It is a good thing to have conviction.

We are told that everything that does not proceed from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23b)

Therefore, we should have very strong opinions about our faith.  What we believe about all the minor issues of our faith does matter.  We should not be wishy-washy about theology.  I have be told by friends that they have no intention of becoming convinced about a certain theological position because they are going to follow Jesus and Jesus alone.  I do not see where Paul is encouraging that sort of non-committal approach in order to avoid conflict.  Faith is center to our lives.  Everything that we do that does not come from faith is sin.  That is serious.  So, we should know what we believe and why we believe it.  We should have strong opinions about how we live our lives.  That is what it means to be fully convinced in our own mind.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:5

The question is how we are to handle these strong opinions?

As Paul teaches, we all are going to give an account of ourselves to God.  I will stand before our God and you will stand before our God and we will both have to give an account for all of our strong beliefs and how we lived them out.  The implication of this teaching is to lead us to conclude that there can be more than one right answer.

Just because something is wrong for me does not mean that it is wrong for you.
Just because something is right for me does not mean that it is right for you.

 I don’t like that very much.  It does not fit into my tidy, black and white, world.  I like things to be right or wrong.  My comfort is found in crisp distinctions.  I would prefer there to be one correct answer.  How can I be glorifying God in my actions and a person doing the direct opposite also be glorifying God?  That just messes with my head.

I think that the reason our discussion rise to quarrels is because we are fully convinced that there is one right answer.  Think about all of those conversations that you have had on theology that seemed to go in circles and were so wholly unsatisfying.  Maybe, they were so unsatisfying due to the fact that the equally right answers already resided in each of your hearts.  The fact that two people with opposite opinions can both be right is a concept that I have to be continually reminded of.

Therefore, we can relax when it comes to one another.

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?  It is before his own Master that he stands or falls.  And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  Romans 14:4

The real issue that we should be concerned about is whether someone is saved; whether someone has been welcomed by God (Romans 14:3b).  The essential issue is whether someone is justified by faith in Christ Jesus.  If they are saved, then they are responsible for their own faith before God.  The good news is that our Lord is able to make all of His children stand before Him.  Just think about what an incredible promise this is.  Every follower of Christ is empowered in Christ to stand before God.  We just need to learn to trust God to complete the work that He has started in our lives and the lives of others.

That is why we can chill-out about all these non-essential theological issues.  God has it all under control.   God is the founder and perfecter of both of our faith.  He is more than capable to uphold his own children.

Our strong convictions free us to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)

It is because of our strong opinions that we are free to really love one another and seek their well-being.  The reality that we can both be right should motivate us to lay aside those non-essential issues and seek our brother or sister’s well-being more than being right.  Being right does not matter nearly as much as someone feeling welcomed and loved.  Our goal should be for them to feel welcome and encouraged rather than judged.   In fact, the confidence that we have in the Lord, by being fully convinced of what we believe, obligates us to bear with the failings (differing opinions) of our brothers and sisters  and to to not seek to please ourselves(Romans 15:1).

Also, we are set free  from other people’s opinions.  Ultimately, my faith is between God and me.  It is not subject to community polling.  This does not mean I can kill people to the glory of God; commit adultery to the glory of God; or cheat on my taxes to the glory of God.  This does not free me to be a false teacher or to embrace heresy.  However, it frees me from the opinions of other on non-essential issues.  I have felt judged by others on how I live my life (spend money, take vacation, hours worked, etc.), but I was not convinced in my own heart that what I was doing was wrong.  This sort of judgmental attitude by our brothers and sisters in Christ can really steal our joy and rock our faith.  We are freed from their opinions because we can both be right.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit Romans 14:17

We need to be convinced of our faith in our own hearts and live the faith He as called us to for the glory of God.  We need to walk faithfully in the Spirit and bask in the peace and joy of our faith.  Our faith is not a burden.  Don’t let the opinions of other people make it a burden.  We are called to live in the joy of our King.  Let’s embrace the freedom of the hope of God to live in all joy and peace of believing with a fully convinced heart.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for for setting me free in Christ Jesus.  Forgive me for those times where I have made a fellow brother or sister feel unwelcome and judged.  Forgive me for caring more about the rightness of my doctrine rather than your righteousness, peace, and joy.  Forgive me for not loving my fellow heirs of God like you do.   Lord, help me to see your children as You do.  Help me to love as you do.  Make me a man who pursues peacemaking for mutual upbuilding.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“CASTING HOPE” – April 26

April 26, 2013

“…since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” Acts 28:20

Hope is the state which promotes the confidence in a good outcome related to swirling circumstances in our lives.  Most everything that we do is based on a hope.

I crawl out of bed in the morning based on a hope of the new day.  I drive into work based on a hope of the income that will result from my employment.  I proposed to my beautiful bride based on a hope of spending my life with her.  We adopted children based on a hope of having a family.  I have friendships that are based on hope of enjoyable fellowship.

It is hope that drives all that we do.

I give up when I lose hope.  I have abandoned business strategies when I have lost hope in their effectiveness.  I have fired employees when I have lost hope in their ability to do their job.  I have stopped dieting when I am no longer motivated by a hope in a thinner me.  I have abandoned fitness programs when my hope in their promises has faded.

We can do the incredible when hope is alive and well.

We can fail at the simplest when hope has died.

Fishing at BlenhiemMy problems arise when I draw my hope too close.  My hope begins to die the more I reel it into my selfish world.  I am not willing to endure much of anything when my hope is for a comfortable and pleasurable life.  I can give up on most of the instruction of the Bible when my hope is based on me.  Is that not what most temptation is?  Most temptations are an enticement in the hope of self-love.

The love of self is poison to true sustaining hope.

What sort of hope do you think motivated Paul to wear chains?  Paul had an easy escape from his captivity – deny Christ and he would be free.  If Paul’s hope had been in a comfortable and pleasurable life, then he would never have endured.  He would never have endured.

mist castingI am at my strongest when my hope is the farthest away from me.  It is when I cast my hope into another world that I am on the surest footing.  My desire is to cast my hope onto the promises of God and secure it firmly on the foundation of Christ.

Hope that is embedded in Christ will sustain us as we are reeled to that hope.  We are not reeling Christ in toward us.  He is reeling us through all the temptations, trials, and suffering of this world towards Him.  He is the solid rock.  We are the ones floating in trouble seas.

Is your hope secure?  Is it alive and well or has it be poisoned by the proximity to your troubled heart?

Cast your hope far from you, onto the only One with whom it will thrive.  Set your mind intentionally on the things of the Spirit and the resulting hope in our Lord and Savior will pull you through all trials and suffering of this world.  It is hope in the glories that will be revealed to us that will sustain us through all the incomparable disappointments, temptations, trials, suffering, and persecution of this world.  Hope in Christ will never disappoint.  It is through our hope in Christ that we will endure to the end.

PRAYER: Father, in you alone I place my hope.  You are my light, my strength, my song. You are my cornerstone and solid ground in this troubled world.  Thank you for sustaining me.  Thank you for guiding me.  Thank you for giving me true hope.  There is nothing that can break your hold on me as I cling to the sure foundation of your Son, Jesus Christ. My hope is found in Christ alone.   Thank you for making me yours.  I praise You and pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.


“SLAYING FEAR” – April 25

April 25, 2013

“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you. “ 2 Chronicles 20:12b      “…Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:12b

Franklin D. Roosevelt after giving one of his ...“Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

This is a quote that anyone who has studied 20th Century American History will recognize. It is a quote that gets dusted off when something disturbing happens.  It gets placed in the mortar and pestle of political speech writers to create various elicitors intended to inoculate the masses against discouragement.

However, the quote is somewhat ridiculous when taken out of the context of the speech.  The only thing that we have to fear is fear itself – really?  There are a lot of things in this world that worth fearing more than being afraid.

I would rather be afraid than:

…to have actual bombs be set off at marathons.

… gunmen shooting through schools.

…dictators launching nuclear missiles.

…planes flown into buildings.

…asteroids striking the earth.

…fertilizer plants exploding.

…storms washing away homes and businesses.




…assault and rape.

…random accidents.


I would rather be afraid than have any of those bad events actually happen.  It seems to me that a more rational question is why aren’t more people afraid.

Fear Filled Bathtub

Fear Filled Bathtub (Photo credit: Kewima)

Fear is not a bad thing.  Fear serves a very important purpose.  The problem with many of the manifestations of this FDR quote is that they attempt to deny fear.  Fear was not intended to be denied.

We all live in a world that is beyond our control.  It is beyond the control of any individual person or government.

There are people in this world that will do bad things no matter what restrictions, incentives/dis-incentives, or educational efforts are made. 

There are acts of nature that no man-made edifices can withstand.  

There are forces in this world that are beyond our control. 

Fear shows us our powerless state.  It reveals our helpless condition.  Fear devours the adequacy of our answers.  There will inevitably come a time for every person when they simply do not know what to do.  We all are guaranteed to discover the inadequacy of our human answers in the face of the overwhelming power of death.  All of mankind is powerless to death.  Death should be feared by fallen man. It is foolishness to deny our powerlessness condition with trite quotes.

All fear, particularly fear of death, has a very important purpose.  Fear is a God created response in man that was designed to turn us toward God.

It is at the foot of fear where we are forced to admit that we do not know what to do.  Fear humbles us.  It is often only when our answers run-out that we look for answers beyond ourselves.  Fear has served its purpose when we are humbled under the mighty hand of God; when our answers have run-out and we turn our eyes onto God.  That is when he will exalt us.  God is our only true and complete answer to fear.

It is only in God that fear can actually be vanquished.  All other answers will only suppress and deny the fear of the powerless.  It is only when we place all of our hope in God our Father that we can know the joy that this world can do nothing to us of eternal consequence.

It is only in Christ when our battles become the Lord’s.

Fear can be a debilitating beast.  Fear can paralyze us.  If you are in Christ, you have been set free.  You have been set free from those real fears that bind and debilitate.  Set the fears that hinder you before our Lord, acknowledge that you don’t know what to do, and set your eyes upon Him and Him alone.  Cast all of your cares upon Him because he cares for you.(1 Peter 5:7)

We are powerless but we have a powerful God, who is for us.  Our battles are His battles and there is nothing that is too hard for Him.

May we pray the same prayer from FDR’s inaugural address that included the quote on fear, “…we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.” FDR’s First Inaugural Address .

PRAYER: Thank you for defeating sin.  Thank you for breaking death.  You reign in majesty and power.  Your kingdom cannot be defeated. All things are possible in You.  I have nothing to fear because of You.  I am secure in You.  I am victorious in You despite any pain, failure, heartache, or opposition.  I shall not fear.  I shall not fear!  I shall not fear for my hope is in You, the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are my God and I will rest in You, to your praise and glory.  I praise You and pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



April 24, 2013

“For the Lord will not foresake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” 1 Samuel 12:22

The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, CA a...I had a Monday that taints the weekend with an odd color of anticipation. I had a one-day business trip to San Francisco scheduled.  I was to fly into Oakland International Airport in the morning, have my meeting, and fly out that same evening.  I am amazed at how travel has changed.  We left the car rental agency in Oakland without a map or direction.  All we had to help us navigate through an unfamiliar city was a GPS unit that I call Uncle Mel (that is a longer and different story).  I typed the directions in for Fort Mason on the Marin Headlands and Uncle Mel started to tell me where to go.

I had a rather disconcerting feeling of dependence as we were going through the labyrinth of one-way streets in the skyscraper canyons of downtown San Francisco.  I knew that our destination was just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge and I knew the general direction.  However, I was going to be hard pressed to navigate such an unfamiliar city if Uncle Mel died.

Uncle Mel faithfully guided us right to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I was very thankful for that beautiful bridge because it carried us across the chasm of water right to our destination with 15 minutes to spare.

I was reflecting on my trip as I listened through some podcasts on my way home.  I listened to a particular podcast called Philosophy for Theologians  that got me to thinking.  Dr. Vern Poythress was on the podcast to discuss his new book, Logic: A God-Centered Approach.  Dr. Poythress challenges the concept that logic is inherent to itself; that logic and rational thought, such as 2+2=4, exists whether God exists or not.  He proposes a distinctly Christian logic based on the reality that even logic is a revelation of a redeeming God.  He works to demonstrate how our ability to think rationally is grounded in the very nature of God himself.  The implications of this Biblical worldview are profound.

I thought about my trip through San Francisco to the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge and how similar I believe that is to our salvation.  I believe that the Spirit guides all who are called through the myriad of life’s one-way streets, imposing intellectual canyons, dangerous neighborhoods; past dead-ends, playgrounds, restaurants, and park benches.  The Spirit guides us along a route where we are completely dependent upon Him.  Often, a traveler doesn’t even realize that they were being guided when they come right to the foot of the cross.

I realize that there is debate among my brothers and sisters in Christ as to the degree and extent that the Spirit draws people to the Father.  I tend to attribute the drawing of a person’s soul to the cross as a complete work of God.  There are some who view it as a complete work of man’s free-will.  There are still others who view it as a combination of a person’s free-will and the Spirit drawing.

As my plane was whisking me home, I rolled this concept of rational thought, as presented by Dr. Poythress, around in my mind; considering the implications to man’s free-will.  The function of man’s free-will is a result of that person’s rational thought.  If rational thought is a revelation of our redeeming God, then even the functioning of a person’s free-will is a reflection, although an often poor and weak reflection, of the very nature of God.

God has given us a rational mind.  He has placed us in a world where 2+2=4.  I cannot comprehend a world where 2+2 does not equal 4 but that does not mean that God could not have created a world where simple logic did not apply.  I am a created creature with a limited mind and understanding, just because I cannot comprehend something does not mean that it is impossible.

The reality is that 2+2 does equal 4 and that is an incredible gift.  It means that we can make decisions; we can think through difficult questions; we can follow directions and we can respond when called.   Therefore, we could never be saved if God did not create us with a rational mind in a world where logic worked.

San Francisco downtown seen from helicopter

San Francisco downtown seen from helicopter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would have never made it out of San Francisco if I was incapable of rational thought.  If I could not think logically I would not have been able to follow the directions of Uncle Mel.  If Uncle Mel had not worked, I would not have been able to deduce the correct route to the Golden Gate Bridge.  In the same way, no one can come to the cross without God.  Rational thought is a God glorifying gift of God.  No one could ever find God if He did not first give us the ability to seek.

Now, the Bible teaches us that no one can get across the chasm that separates us from God.  We all come to the bank of our lives with the realization that our sin has separated us from the holy and righteous God.  There is nothing that we can do to span the gulf created by our unrighteousness.  That is why God had to give us a bridge.  We are powerless through our own ability to reach our eternal destination.  The free gift of eternal life is by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross in payment for our sins and that is our only bridge to eternity.

No one can reach God without God.

No one comes to the Father by any other route than through Christ.

We are all travelers on the road to our eternal destination.   It is an amazing work of grace that any person is ever allowed into the presence of the King of kings.  I think that we will all be amazed to the extent of grace that we have been shown in this life.  I think we will learn of so many aspects of this life that we have taken for granted, like rational thought, that are really gifts of mercy and grace from a loving Father calling His children home.

May God be glorified in every breath we take and every thought that we make.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for blessing me and taking care of me in ways that are beyond my comprehension.  Thank you for gifting men like Dr. Poythress to teach us to think deeply about you.  Thank you for the ability to seek you.  Most of all Lord, thank you for allowing yourself to be found.  You truly are great and worthy of all praise.  I praise you and pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



April 19, 2013

“And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the Lord, “With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.”  And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph.  The Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” 2 Chronicles 18:10-11

I wonder if Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah was touted by the commentators of the time as, “An innovative prophet who communicates the word of God in a creative and fresh manner that resonates with our generation.”

The problem with Zedekiah’s dramatic presentation was that it did not resonate the word of God.  It appears that he was very creative in how he prophesied.  It appears that the rulers and religious of the highest levels followed his prophesy.  The innovative manner and creative way that Zedekiah prophesied did not change the validity of what he said.  He was still uttering false words.  It appears that he was a very dynamic and entertaining false prophet.  His form was more than his substance.

We would be foolish to think that there are not modern versions of Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah.

the word of GodI am not against innovation and creative ways for preaching the good news of Jesus Christ.  Read this blog – that is exactly what I am trying to do.  I try to write in a way that helps me and hopefully you, to think about the truths of scripture and our wonderful God in new and deeper ways.  However, my or any person’s unique and innovative presentation should never shroud false, incorrect, or misleading teaching.

It is the communicator’s job to make sure that he is communicating a message that is fully supported by the word of God.  I am endeavoring to communicate with you.  It is not your task to have to try to figure-out what I am really saying.  It is my problem if you don’t understand what I am attempting to communicate.  If you are listening to someone and have to justify their message with, “I know that is what he said but that cannot be what he meant”, then the communicator has failed to do his job well; no matter how captivating his presentation was.   One must conclude that He is either not a good communicator or he is trying to mislead you.  Neither is a good conclusion.  Now, no teacher is perfect and they will make misstatements.  However, it is a problem if misstatements or misrepresentation of the word of God are a chronic occurrence.  That is when you need to ask yourself why you are listening to this person.

Do you care more about the form than the content?  Do you want a creatively and freshly presented message more than a message based on the Word of God?

The message is what matters.  Presentations will always change.  What was creative and fresh to my parents is mundane to me.  What is creative and fresh to me will be tired and traditional to my children.  It is the message that matters.

Let’s enjoy how an innovative presentation of the truths of God’s word can bring encouragement and conviction to our souls.  However, we must remember that it is the word of God – the message – that is bringing the edification.  Never trade truth for presentation.

PRAYER: Father, please give me discernment and a clarity of mind.  I know that I like multi-media presentations and dynamic speakers.  I am easily fired-up by a charismatic speaker.  I like to be fired-up.  Father, ground me in your word; give me eyes to see through all the smoke and light of these teachings so that I can understand the truthfulness of their
message.  May I only be fired-up and edified by your true Word coming through their presentations.  Grant me wisdom and understanding to reject all that is false.  Amen.


“WORDS FOR ALL” – Mar. 22

March 22, 2013

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:34

1993 reprint of Chafer's Systematic TheologyI love theology.  The study of theology is a wonderful tool to help us dive deeper into the depths of our Lord God.  It was not until I started scratching at the edges of theology that I realized the immense wisdom of God that has been given to us. (1 Cor. 2:7)   I love theology because that is the main tool by which the Spirit teaches me about the depths of God.

However, there is a difference between theologians and those who love theology.  I have found that those who claim the title of theologians tend to speak in a strange and confusing language.  There is a vast array of terms, titles, “isms”, and religious talk in the language of a theologian.  When a theologian speaks in their special language, the majority of the population has no idea of what they are talking about.

I find the language of theologians wearisome.  I often forget what the terms mean.  I get hung up on the words written in Hebrew or Greek, which it is assumed that I know.   The intellectual tone can often be intimidating.  I once subscribed to a theological quarterly journal.  After a period of time, I let my subscription lapse because the authors of the journal articles were clearly not writing for such a person as me.  They were writing for other theologians.  I have no problem with that.  An author has to know their audience and write accordingly.

The problem for theologians, those who love theology, and those who have been in the Church for decades is that we often forget our main audience.   We use this strange language that the vast majority of the population does not understand.  We talk about atonement, redemption, propitiation, pneumatology, born-again, justification, sanctification, eschatology, predestination, ecclesiology, salvation, righteousness, etc.  The majority of the people who we will interact with will not know what those words mean or will not know what we mean by those words.

The language of the religious can become wearisome to the lost.  Our intellectual tone can be intimidating.  We can make some people feel excluded because we are talking to an audience who they are not a part.  We all have a tendency to let the simplicity of Christ be masked by the deeper truths that the Spirit has taught us in the maturing of our faith.

What must any person do to be saved?  This is a question for the masses.  Every person walking the face of the earth has this same question.  I love that God has given us an answer that does not require a special academic background, knowledge of terminology, or intellectual ability.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

In that one sentence, God has given us salvation; distilled in simplicity so that all of humanity can understand it and at the same time containing a depth to which His followers can spend a lifetime plunging into its revealing glory of God’s secret and hidden wisdom (1 Cor. 2:7).

May we all stand humbled before our Lord; always ready with the clear understandable word of the Lord crafted for the audience our Father has given us.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for making your salvation understandable to me and all of humanity.  Thank you for making it so profound the wisest of men will never comprehend.  Thank you for every trace of maturity that you have provided to my faith.  Father, keep my heart away from any pride that may develop due to any understanding I have been given of your wisdom.  May I never seek to know You more due to a desire to win a debate or to impress others.  May I always seek to know You from the heart of a son who loves his heavenly Father.  Help me to speak clearly and plainly.  Help me to proclaim your salvation in manner that those whom You have given me will understand and be saved for your glory.  Amen



February 28, 2013

“But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.” 2 kings 5:11

English: Naaman in Jordan River (2King 5:14) Р...It is just common sense.  Everyone knows how leprosy is healed:

Step 1 – The healer comes out and stands before the afflicted;

Step 2 – The healer prays to God;

Step 3 – The healer does a “magic hands” routine over the afflicted;

Step 4 – The afflicted is healed.

That is how leprosy is healed; everyone knows that.  Naaman knew that and was angry because Elisha had wasted his time.

I have sat around many a campfire, kitchen table, living room and heard the Naamans of the world rant about the idiots who did not do “_______” right.  I have been a Naaman more times than I care to admit.  I have very strong opinions on many things: politics, laws, economics, coaches, athletes, pastors, teachers, authors, etc.  I have espoused my position on many a topic with the confidence of an expert.

The world is filled with self-proclaimed “experts” like myself.  We know exactly how something should have been done but have often never actually done it ourselves. We enjoy identifiying what is wrong while ignoring all that is right.  We know exactly the correct process based on how it has always been done in the past.  We are the “cold water” of experience that dampens any suggestion of trying something new.  Our favorite saying is, “That ain’t going to work.  It is just common-sense.”   We love to lift up our own intelligence while we care very little of how we degrade another.

Naaman suffered from a malady other than leprosy.  Naaman had a pride problem.  Naaman knew how leprosy was supposed to be healed.  He was not shown the proper respect and he was not going to put up with Elisha’s ridiculous directions.  He almost missed out on the miraculous due to his pride.

The Church is filled with Naamans.  We know how God works and will often get angry at doing anything that is not the “right” way.

Worship is done with no music;

Worship is done only with hymns;

Worship is done only with praise songs;

The correct Bible version is the King James;

The correct Bible version is the ESV;

Speaking tongues are gifts that have past;

Worship is not happening without speaking in tongues;

Church has to be done in a building;

Church should not be done in a building;

The service needs to have a formal liturgy;

The service needs to be informal and causal;

Healing happens through a healing service;

Healing happens when the elders lay hands on and anoint with oil;

Healing doesn’t happen anymore.

There are so many folks out there making the case for the “right” ways of walking with the Lord or the “right” way of doing Church or the “right” way of doing missions.  It is a little mind-boggling how many people are advocating the “right” way.  I wonder how many of those ardent advocates are merely Naamans for their own cause.

The Bible is very clear about certain things.  We need to hold fast to the clear teachings of the Bible and be better at identifying those doctrines that are core to our beliefs and those where we can agree to disagree.  It appears to me that much of our attitudes about the correct way to be a Christian is wrapped more in Namaan-like pride than in sound theology.

I wonder how much of the miraculous we have missed out on due to our pride.

God is a powerful.  He can do whatever He wants to do.  He does not have to follow a prescribed set of man-made rules.  He does not have to be worshiped in a certain manner.  He does not have to work in our lives in a certain manner.  The acquired common-sense of our own experiences does not apply to God.

I am aware that this is an area where I need to examine my motivations on a more regular basis.  I think that the Body of Christ will benefit greatly by all of us examining our hearts for this particular type of pride.  I believe that God cares more about the “Naaman-like” pride in His people than the sacred processes that we so earnestly defend.  The wisdom and discernment of our Lord and Savior is needed to allow us to humbly and graciously walk with our brothers and sisters in Christ in unity.

We need to set aside the pride of our desire to be right and be more concerned about the souls of our fellow heirs in Christ than our pet issue.

“For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.  Thus, sinning against your brother and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” (1 Cor. 8:10-13)

Paul was addressing the eating of certain foods.  Some thought it was prohibited.  Others felt free to partake.  Paul shows us that we are actually sinning against our brother when we use our freedom in Christ to make them stumble.  Pride is what makes us proclaim the rightness of our freedom at the expense of our brothers and sisters.

There have been several times when I have been in a discussion and I have not even considered whether the discussion causing my brother to stumble.  I was just focused on the correctness of my position.  There have been many times when a brother or sister has addressed me in a manner that was clearly about them getting something off of their chest rather than a concern about being a stumbling block to my faith.  Most pastors have been discouraged at one point by how someone has informed them of what they feel is being done wrong.

Often, we live in a manner that demonstrates that we love our issue more than we love the person who is on the other side of that position.  When we do that, we are failing at the second greatest commandment; “love your neighbor as yourself.”

May our Lord humble us so that we will care more about our fellow heirs rather than feeding our selfish desire to be right.  May we be willing to appear weak through the grace of Christ even when we are the one who is stronger.  Let’s not miss out on the miraculous due to our Naaman-like pride.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my Naaman-like pride.  Lord, I pray that I have not been a stumbling block to my brother or sister.  Father, give me a compassion for their well being.  Give me wisdom to discern those issues that matter and those that are preferences.  Give me wisdom as to how to discuss the wonderful truths of your Word, those issues where there our lack of complete understand has lead to disagreements, in a manner that is edifying to all and not a stumbling block to any.  Lord, give me a love for your people; humble me so that the tone of what I say conveys your love.     Amen



January 7, 2013

“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of host, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” 1 Samuel 17:45-46a

Promotional poster featuring Brock Lesnar

Promotional poster featuring Brock Lesnar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if I told you that I have scheduled a cage match to the death with Brock Lesnar?  Mr. Lesnar is 6 ft 3 in and weighs in at 267 lbs.  He is NCAA wrestling champion and a former heavyweight champion in the UFC.  I am 6 ft 1 in and weigh in at 200 lbs.  I have not been in a fight since elementary school.  I hope that I have people in my life that will pull me aside and say, “that is not a good idea”.

There is nothing about this match up that is a good idea. No one would buy this pay-per-view package to watch a competitive fight.  They may buy it more for the value of the Roman spectacle of a person being fed to a lion.  Yet, I stand a better chance against Mr. Lesnar than David had in his match up with Goliath.

I have heard many a message using this match-up as an example of how we should face the giants in our Christian lives.  I struggle with some of those analogies because it seems like they are over-generalizing a very specific event by a person with a very specific role in God’s redemptive plan.  If you are encouraged in your faith by those analogies to face seeming insurmountable challenges in your life, then I don’t want to dissuade you.

English: The young Hebrew David hoists the hea...However, I believe there is a deeper meaning in this passage then an encouragement for me to face the equivalents of Brock Lesnar in my life.  This passage is about David but there was a true and better David that followed him, who better embodied all that David stands for.

The reality is that David trusted God to deliver him; he was willing to sacrifice himself for the name of the Lord.  Later on in his life, David, as the Psalmist, recognized that God does not delight in the sacrifice of animals but in the self-sacrifice of every person – God wants all of David and He wants all of you and I.

When David took the field against Goliath, he was foreshadowing the better David, Jesus, who would take on a much more important battle, against a seemingly more impossible foe.  Look at the similarities in the events:

Goliath came at David with sword and spear and javelin.

They came at Jesus with swords and spears.

David came to the battle in the name of the Lord.

Jesus came to the battle as the Son of God.

David was not saved by sword and spear.

Jesus was not saved by sword and spear.

David struck down Goliath and cut his head off.

Jesus struck down death and crushed the head of the serpent.

John Piper said it better than I can:

“And so David, in his zeal to obey God, models for us faintly the kind of zeal to obey God that not only led Jesus to empty himself of divine prerogative, but humble “himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7–8), and in doing so, become the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).”

We need to realize that every person to have walked this planet has faced a foe much bigger and more dangerous than Goliath.  Our greatest foe has never been a Goliath type figure of this world.  It has been death and eternal punishment for our sin.

Jesus has already defeated our greatest foe.

He has already struck down our Goliath – he has cut the head off of death for you and I.  Jesus has crushed the head of our greatest enemy and saved us to eternal life.  There is no challenge that I will face today that has more significance to me than the battle that was won for me on a Roman cross by the perfect David – Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, my Savior and Lord.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for saving me.  Thank you for defeating my greatest foe.  Thank you for giving me a world in which I have nothing to fear.  Lord, help me to live in that victory today.  Help me to daily understand that there is no Goliath in this world that I have to fear.  There is nothing that can separate me from you and you have already secured the victory for me.  Thank you for loving me and being my heavenly Father.  Amen

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