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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blessed

We take a lot for granted.  Well at least I do.  I left my home country, USA, 20 days ago.  I got back last Monday evening.  For the past week I have been recovering from that trip, still am.  Digestive system, lungs, and sinuses are all messed up.  Combination of pollution, dust, and radical diet changes.
Blessed
I leave again Monday so I need to get over this quick, but back to blessed…

When I flip the light switch I never consider that the lights may not come on.  I do not wonder if the electricity will be on all night.  When I turn on the water, I do not consider the possibility that it may not flow, both hot and cold.  I just rode 11 hours in a car, every road was paved.  People were following the rules, traffic flowed without incident, except through one work zone.

Speaking of work zones, if a water main is cut, it is fixed within a day.  I do not have to deal with having no water for two months with no end in sight.  If I need a doctor, and I do, the hospital is less than a mile away, there are three pharmacies within a mile of my house.

There are a handful of churches within a couple of mile radius of where I live.  There are two Christian radio stations, one large Christian book store, my TV has multiple channels devoted to the Christian faith.

When I laid down to rest when we got back about an hour ago, I did not have to compete for a place to lay down with tomorrow’s lunch and dinner.  The house is climate controlled, not sharing the climate.

When I consider how I live, I am almost embarrassed.  One of the questions that has been plaguing me for the past couple of weeks is why this country is the way it is after 250 years and the one I just left is the way it is after a 1000.

I know one thing for sure, life is easier here, much harder in all aspects there.

I have more questions about that than answers right now.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Payment

I mentioned yesterday that I just got back from a project overseas.  It was a difficult trip.  Such that I have been sick since I got back.  The change in diet, the 27 hour trips, my body is not adjusting as quickly as it used to.
Payment
So as well as the monetary cost of the trip.  Part of the payment is on my body.  One of my applications from this trip, I need to loose weight and get in better shape.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fish or Cut Bait

My respect and admiration for pioneer missionaries was given an incredible boost in the past three weeks.  Working with people who had poor translations of the Bible, and asked to explain basic information about the Bible at multiple points.  What takes me 20 minutes to do here.  Took a minimum of 1.5 hours to cover.
Fish or Cut Bait
I was working to equip the people there to fish.  To discover from observation truth in the Word of God.  It would have been much easier to just tell them what I wanted them to know.  The problem with that, after I am gone, they will not be able to do that for themselves.

It was hard work.  I was there four days.  I thought how difficult it would be to work at that level for years.  I can understand why people in that circumstance would simply dispense fish.

We face, at different levels, the same choice each day.  It is much easier to tell people what we know, than it is to train them to get it for themselves.  We need to choose to teach to fish each time.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving

We give thanks today.  Thoughts at DTTB.
Today we give thanks.  It would be good to take some time to really think through what God has done for you.  Spend some time writing that down and then thanking Him specifically for His grace toward you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Short Break

I have been out of the country for the past 12 days.  The last 12 posts were written before I left and scheduled to post…  This will be a short break from 2 Timothy 1:1 – 14.
Short Break
This morning I was on our Tuesday morning online study.  We were in Haggi.  I was on primarily to give the guys an update on the Nepal project.  As they were discussing the book something stood out to me.  Look at Haggai 2:3 and Ezra 3:12.  These books happen at about the same time.

The attitude of the elders in Ezra 3:12 that is referred to in Haggai 2:3 is that what they have built is not as glorious as what was destroyed.  The kicker comes for me in Haggai 2:9.  The Lord tells them that the current temple will have far more glory than the one that was destroyed.  This is the temple to which Christ comes.

As I thought through this, there have been several times that things I have been doing in ministry either in my church or projects like Nepal, have not seemed to go well.  They seemed to be bunt singles rather than home runs.  I confess I have despaired over some of those events.

Haggai 2:9 reminds me that it is not what I do that matters.  What matters is what the Lord does with what I do.  I tend to use the wrong measures.  I tend to look for immediate results, the home run, the grand slam.  But the Lord can take my bunt single and make it a grand slam.

The painful truth is, no matter what I do, no matter how glorious I may think it may be, it will not be worthy of His glory.  It is only as He invests it with His purpose and His power that anything I may offer accrues value.  Further, I may never see that glory.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 9

Continuing looking at 2 Timothy 1:8 – 11, focus on the last half of verse 9, God’s purpose and grace have been granted to us from all eternity.  Coupled with other of Paul’s thoughts, Ephesians 2:10, for instance, seems to suggest that suffering for the sake of the gospel was part of God’s plan for us all along.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 9
One wonders why.  But the next verse sheds even more light on this.  In 10 Paul starts with contrast, “but”, and temporal, “now”, what was designed from eternity has now been revealed.  How?  “By,” instrumentation, means, the appearing of His Son, who did three things:

  • Abolished death
  • Brought life
  • Brought immortality

How?  “Through,” again instrumentation, means, the gospel.

Putting all of that together, we are called to suffer for the gospel by one who has abolished death, brought life, and immortality.

We are not called to suffer needlessly.  The reality is that our suffering is temporary the reality is that the command is reasonable based on what Christ has done.

Which sets up verse 12 beautifully, but that is tomorrow.

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure
Structure in 2 Timothy 1
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 3
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 4
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 5
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 6
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 7
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 8

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 8

Paul writes really long sentences.  2 Timothy 1:8 – 11 is one sentence.  We looked at the first part of the sentence in verse 8 yesterday.  I was going to skip over this but it is too rich to ignore.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 8
In the last part of verse 8, Paul explains suffering.  It is “for” the gospel “according to” the power of God.  Those are two structural markers we have already seen in verse 5 and verse 1.

Suffering is describes as “for” the gospel, the gospel is the reason we suffer.  The power of God is the basis for choosing to join in Paul’s suffering for the gospel.

Paul then, using particularization, expands his explanation of the power of God giving powerful support for our joining in that suffering.  He notes what God has done through His Power:
Saved us
Called us with a holy calling
Then Paul expands on this calling.  The calling is not “according to” our works but, contrast, “according to” God’s purpose.  Stop and think about what is going on here.  Paul is exhorting Timothy and by extension us to join in suffering for the gospel.  Here he links that suffering to God’s purpose in His calling us.

Suffering for the sake of the gospel is part of God’s purpose.

This Christian thing is not for the faint of heart.

More on this sentence tomorrow.

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure
Structure in 2 Timothy 1
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 3
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 4
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 5
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 6
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 7

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 7

The next structural marker is in 2 Timothy 1:8.  The sentence starts with “therefore”.  Most of us know that when we see “therefore” what follows is a result of what went before, the cause is before, and the effect is after.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 7
The effect is telling.  It may give us more insight into who Timothy is and with what he is facing in his ministry in Ephesus.  Paul contrasts being ashamed with suffering.  That is a strong statement, hard choice, be ashamed or suffer.

Not all of us are there yet.  Some of us will be soon.  The pressure of the world is against Christ and His followers.  Revelation 12:17 tells us that the enemy is at war with us as does 1 Peter 5:8.  We are in a war whether we realize it or not.

The message we have been given is offensive to those who are perishing.  There is continual pressure to soften what the gospel, what God says.  When we do not, we are vilified and called haters by those who hate.  We are accused of fearing those who are “different” by those who fear we may be right.

Paul reminds Timothy, and by extension us, here that we have to stay on message even in the face of libel, slander, persecution, and suffering.

This is not an easy assignment.  But it is ours.

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure
Structure in 2 Timothy 1
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 3
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 4
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 5
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 6

Friday, November 21, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 6

Look at 2 Timothy 1:7.  Note that the verse begins with “For”.  If you look at the list of structural markers you will see that “for” is listed under logical connectors as indicating “reason”.  Paul is giving the reason for his exhortation for Timothy to rekindle his gift.  The literary device is substantiation, what Paul is about to share is the basis for why Timothy should man up.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 6
The reason is the rest of the verse but notice that Paul shares it with another literary device, contrast.  He contrasts “power and love and discipline” with “a spirit of timidity”.  We are not given timidity, but we are given power, love, and discipline.

Yesterday, when we looked at verse 6 one of the questions was, what was the gift of God that Timothy was to rekindle?  Here in the immediate context, may be the answer.

So some of the questions that begin to emerge from observing the structure:

  • What does this tell us about Timothy?  Paul?
  • Why does Paul emphasize all three by using “and” instead of a comma between power and love?
It may be the case that what we are seeing here is Timothy retreating from some of the challenges that we all face when trying to serve people.  Paul may be reminding him as a leader it is his responsibility to lead.

We would need to validate that as we work our way through the book.

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure
Structure in 2 Timothy 1
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 3
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 4
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 5

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 5

Looking again at 2 Timothy 1:6, the last structural marker is “through”.  This is the literary device instrumentation.  We saw this earlier in verse 1.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 5
Here Paul is reminding Timothy how he received his gift, through, agency, the laying on of Paul’s hands.  From this one could conclude that Paul was able to impart gifts of God through laying on of hands.

That raises several questions:
  • Was this an apostolic ability?
  • Does this ability still exist today?
  • What is the meaning of laying on of hands?
  • What kinds of gifts were transmitted in this manner?
  • Are there other examples of this in the New Testament?
  • Why does Paul mention this to Timothy here?
These questions suggest a need for a topical study on laying on of hands.  Full disclosure here, this passage is problematic for me.  Why?  Because there are elements in the Church today who seem to abuse it.  So my inclination is to work to explain this away.

Frankly, that is the response most of us have when we run across a passage that does not fit what we believe.  Integrity in Bible study, in our walk with God requires that we do not do that.  We have to acknowledge our current beliefs and compare them to the Scripture.  To that end here is a list of all of the passages in the New Testament that reference laying on of hands.

I do not have time to work through these now, but I am setting this aside for a later study.  By the way this is a good way to deal with these types of things.  Make note of what you need to look at later and keep going.

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure
Structure in 2 Timothy 1
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 3
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 4

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 4

In this series we are looking at how structure can help us observe more in the text.  You can get caught up by clicking on the links below.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 4
Yesterday we looked at the first structural marker in 2 Timothy 1:6, the next marker is temporal, “afresh”.  Paul is telling his apprentice to rekindle his spiritual gifts.  The implications of this are important for us.

One implication may be that our gifts can fade.  That raises several questions:

  • What would cause one’s spiritual gifts to fade?
  • Could one’s gifts fade to the point of uselessness?
  • What does one do to rekindle one’s gift?

These questions arise from observing the temporal marker but the next few are questions that come to mind from other passages of Scripture that may help me to understand what is going on here:

  • How does abiding in Christ impact one’s spiritual gifts?  Is the implication here that Timothy was not abiding?  (John 15:5)
  • Is there a connection here between Paul’s issue in 2 Corinthians 12:7 – 10 and Timothy’s need to rekindle his gift?

I do not have answers to these questions.  I may never have.  That is not the point.  By asking them I am forced to consider things that I may not otherwise consider.  Plus I find that asking questions I see other things that I would not have otherwise observed.

There is one more marker in verse 6 I want to investigate but I will save that for tomorrow.

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure
Structure in 2 Timothy 1
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 3

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 3

We have been working through 2 Timothy 1.1 – 14, if you are just starting you can get caught up with the links at the bottom.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 3
Look at verse 6.  Again I am not going to focus on every marker just hit some of the high points.  Looking at the picture again you can see that the first marker in verse 6 is the phrase “for this reason.”  Pretty clear what that indicates, reason or purpose.  If you look at the context the reason is in the preceding verse. Paul is convinced that Timothy has the same faith as his grandmother and mother.

Paul’s certainty of that faith is the basis for his exhortation to Timothy to kindle afresh Timothy’s gifts.  So the interesting thing here is that Paul is using another’s faith to exhort his apprentice to greater things.  This is not the only time he does this in 2 Timothy.  Look at 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17, Paul again refers to those from whom Timothy learned the Scripture, his mom and grandmom.

Here the structure shows us that Paul expects that people who are from Christian homes will benefit from that environment.

That is not just Paul.  Remember his writing was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure
Structure in 2 Timothy 1
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2

Monday, November 17, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2

We started yesterday in 2 Timothy 1:1 to see how structure helps us observe more in the text.  I am not going to stop on every marker in this series but I will I this first verse.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1 – Part 2
The second marker is “according to,” it is not on your list.  It is one I have added as I have worked with this over the years.  It tells us the source or the context from which some action or idea emerges.

From yesterday we saw that the instrumentation of Paul’s apostleship was the will of God.  Here God’s will is “according to” His promise of life in Christ.  Paul’s apostleship was grounded in the will of God which was informed by or constrained, if you will, by God’s intention, promise to give life through Christ.

In my estimation, that is huge.  It explains Paul’s drive.  It helps me to understand why he penned passages like 2 Corinthians 5:14 – 21.

What would it be like to know that you were chosen by God because of His promise to provide life through His Son, to be an ambassador to those who do not know this message?  How would that impact your thinking?  How would that change the trajectory of your life?

Guess what…

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure
Structure in 2 Timothy 1

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Structure in 2 Timothy 1

So if you looked at 2 Timothy 1 as I suggested yesterday you will have seen some of the structural markers on the list.  As I have worked through this over the past few years I have learned that Traina’s list is not exhaustive.  Further I have begun to see implied structure.  Some of that is here in 2 Timothy 1.
Structure in 2 Timothy 1
I am going to focus on 2 Timothy 1:1 – 14 during this series.  I have marked the structural markers I saw in the picture.  Compare them to what you saw, or if you have not done so yet.  Read through the text looking at the sheet and see what you find there.

The first marker I saw was “by”.  This is instrumentation.  Paul was an apostle of Christ not by his choice, not by the choice of the other apostles, not by the choice of the Church, rather by the will of God.  The means by which Paul was made an apostle was the will of God.  If you look at the list of questions associated with instrumentation you will see:

Instrumentation
  • What is meant by the end or purpose, and what is meant by the means?
  • How does the means serve as an instrument(s) for realizing the end?
  • Why does the author use this instrumental relationship?
  • What are its full implications?
  • If you look at the definition of Instrumentation, you will see:
Instrumentation – the setting forth of the means to and end as well as the end itself.  Instrumentation thus involves the factor of purpose. The gospel of John, in view of the author’s statement in 20:30-31, exemplifies this law. The signs recorded in the book are a means to an end, namely, belief in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, in order to make possible eternal life.

In this case the end was Paul’s apostleship.  The means was the Will of God.  What questions does that raise for you?

It raises several for me.  For instance:
  • Did Paul get a vote in this matter?
  • What does this tell us about the actions of the other apostles in choosing Matthias?
  • How did this means empower Paul’s ministry?
You can come up with others.

Typically we breeze by these opening words to get to the good stuff.  There is some good stuff right here.

Structure helps us observe it.  It slows us down.

Posts in this series:
The Influence of Structure

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Influence of Structure

I have written about the use of structure in the Bible to help us observe more effectively about 41 times in this blog; type structure in the search bar above to see the posts.
The Influence of Structure
This morning I was reading through 2 Timothy 1 and was reminded again how helpful structure can be.  I am not a literary person.  The college English courses that required me to evaluate literature were baffling to me.  I was an engineering major, I get math, soil, concrete, rebar – grammar and structure were foreign, and in my opinion back then, relatively useless soil.  Boy was I wrong.

Reading and studying the Bible since I came to Christ has been the main source of my growth and understanding of Christ.  But one of the things that hampered my grasp of the Scripture was my engineering background and disdain for those “useless” English courses.  All of the guidance I received in learning to study my Bible told me to pepper the text with questions.  Problem – I quickly ran out of questions.

After the basic W’s I was out of gas.  Enter structure.  About 1985, there was a staff conference at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.  For five days he walked us through how to use structure to make better observations.  Additionally, he shared a full set of questions based on that structure.  It was life changing for me.  I went from having six questions, to literally hundreds in 5 days.

When I got to Dallas Seminary in 87, Prof had Traina’s book as one of the textbooks for his course on Bible study methods (my relationship to that course is a long story that will not be told here).  Being one of the reasons I was at Dallas in the first place, Prof’s validation of Traina’s instruction, further reinforced the need to master these tools.

Bottom line?  Structure is a tool to help us observe more than we can see without it.  It helps us to view the Word with fresh and different eyes.  It acknowledges that the Holy Spirit was intentional in the use of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax in His guiding the creation of the text.

It is good stuff.

In the next few days I will share how I used it this morning in 2 Timothy 1.  You can get a head start by looking at the list of structural markers here and the list of associated questions here.  Further, I have done some of this in the series starting here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Breaking Evangelical Consumerism, How?

For me the answer begins with Matthew 28:18 – 20.  It is our job to make disciples.  It seems like somehow we have drifted off of that directive and are now looking for converts, people who have prayed a prayer.  Rather than follow what Christ and Paul modeled in the New Testament, we rely on large meetings and media.  Look at Mark 3:14.  He appointed the 12 to be with Him, then to preach.  The order is not accidental.
Breaking Evangelical Consumerism, How?

Paul did much the same.  When you read through Acts and the epistles Paul penned, you see names, Timothy being primary.  2 Timothy 2:1 – 2 mirrors in Paul’s admonition to his apprentice, not only Christ’s method, but also His command in Matthew 28:18 – 20.

If you look at Acts 11:26, this is reinforced.  The disciples were called Christians, not the other way around.  The problem may be that we have forgotten what it takes to make a disciple.

In his books Simple Church and Breakout Churches, Thom Ranier shares research that supports this as well.  He states that the churches that are doing great, are those who have defined discipleship and have put in place an intentional process for moving people toward discipleship.

To me this is simple.  Pastors have to refocus on equipping, making disciples, intentionally developing leaders, rather than what program to run in the next 13 weeks.

The challenge will be that the consumers will rebel.

What do you do with that?  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Foundation of Rest

A few days ago I was stopped by Psalm 92:2.  We are exhorted to declare God’s lovingkindness and faithfulness in the morning and night respectively.  Thinking through this I wondered at the timing.
The Foundation of Rest
It occurs to me that we need His lovingkindness in the morning.  Why?  We all encounter many different trials throughout the day.  We need to know that the Lord’s lovingkindness surrounds us in all that we encounter.  These things come upon us for a reason, a purpose, and His lovingkindness will sustain us through them.

In the evening when we sleep we are most vulnerable.  Remember the old nursery prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  That prayer acknowledged our vulnerability and our reliance on God’s faithfulness.  We can trust Him.  He does not change.  In our most vulnerable state, we are covered by His faithfulness.

The coupling of those two characteristics of our Lord lays a solid foundation for trust, rest in Him.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Breaking Evangelical Consumerism

For the sake of argument, let’s say that my thoughts yesterday and the day before are right.

Breaking Evangelical Consumerism

How would you go about breaking down, changing a church’s culture of consumerism?

I will share some of my thoughts, day after tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Evangelical Consumerism’s Result – Part 2

Yesterday I suggested that many pastors and other church leaders are complicit in creating a culture of consumerism in their communities.  What is the end result of this culture?
Evangelical Consumerism’s Result – Part 2
It seems to me that the end result is a community that is stuck in ineffectiveness.  If people are trained to expect to always be spoon fed the milk of the Word, their walk is based on someone else’s convictions.  Sure, they may have embraced those convictions, but they do not understand them and certainly cannot defend them.

A consumer expects to receive, they do not give, and they are not even able to do so.  If the goods are not on the shelf, they are at a loss.  Their only recourse is to try another source.

When the community needs to grow, a consumer expects the leadership to provide that growth.  However, if the leadership moves in a direction that changes the consumer’s experience, the consumer will not respond positively and will more than likely communicate their displeasure in a number of ways; up to and including leaving.  The consumer’s primary motivation is to get what they want when they want it.

What do you think about this?  Am I on track here or am I missing something?

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Logical Result of Evangelical Consumerism

When I visit churches I spend a lot of my time there observing the congregation.  It is relatively easy to determine the health of a church by noting the median age of the congregation.  In a number of the churches I have attended that number is fairly high.  That is usually an indication of a decline in both the growth rate of that body and in the effectiveness of that body in reaching their community.
The Logical Result of Evangelical Consumerism
I often wonder how a church moves from having a dynamic impact on a community into a state of decline where it becomes a constant battle to keep the building maintained, the mortgage paid, and the doors open.

I am still working on this, but I am playing with the seed of a thought.  It is the case that most pastors have been trained to preach, visit, wed people, and subsequently bury them.  That is how most congregations evaluate the effectiveness of their pastor.  Is he meeting those needs well or not?

I have heard numerous people complain about pastors that they are not feeding them.  Many pastors, on the other hand, are not very good at fulfilling the role Paul describes for them in Ephesians 4:11 – 16.  Rather than equipping the saints for the work of service, they do it.  They spend untold hours prepping sermons that most people will forget in 24 hours.  In so doing they help sustain a culture of Evangelical Consumerism.  Rather than equipping the flock to sustain themselves, they succumb to the demand of the sheep to feed them.  So rather than teaching to fish they continue to give fish that they dig up.

What does this create in the long run?

I will share my thoughts on that tomorrow.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Demanding

Last week during our Tuesday study we were working through Joel.  Some of the men were struggling with the book; struggling in the sense that they were having a hard time applying the book to their current situation.
Demanding
One of the men, quoting 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17 reminded us that all scripture is intended to teach us, in the context of 2 Timothy, scripture refers to the Old Testament.  Romans 15:4 tells us the same thing.  No one in the study disagreed with those passages.

However, one of the men said that he could not demand that the Holy Spirit lead him to an application in every Bible study.  He is right.

John 16:13 tells us that one role the Spirit fills is to lead us into truth.  Lead.  That assumes we are following.  Earlier in John 15:7 one of the 11 times Christ uses the word “abide” in John 15:1 – 16, we are exhorted to abide in His Word.  Our job is to abide.  The Holy Spirit leads.  We do not dictate where He leads.  Our job is to be present in the Word, to ask for that leading (Psalm 119:18), and to respond correctly to what the Spirit shows us.

Our place is to ask not demand.  I know of believers who seem to have that wrong.  The Spirit is Lord.  We no more demand of Him than we do of Christ.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

This is Hard

I just finished the first vacation I have had with my wife in the past 31 years.  It was good.  Friday, the day before we drove to her parent’s house I got the translated material I will need when I get on the plane for Asia, Wednesday.  I already got the Bible portion in the handout…
This is Hard
For the last hour I have been cutting and pasting the translated material into the handout I will give the men who are coming to the training.  It is going to take a whole lot longer than I planned for.

There is something about the font the translator used that does not recognize other fonts in the same language.  So I have to cut, paste into my document, retain the source formatting, and then work on the formatting to get it right in my handout.

To add to the challenge I cannot always tell what exactly of my stuff is translated.  When I paste from his work into Google translate, the characters are English and not the alphabet I need… so I cannot check it, or at least I have not figured out how to yet.

I need to do this to serve the men who are coming to be trained…

It is a reminder to me that not all of the assignments, precious few really, that the Lord gives are all that easy…

Friday, November 7, 2014

Why Revive Me?

Psalm 143 has been one of those passages where nearly every verse has spoken to me.  I have written on it several times; just plug 143 in the search bar above for a taste.
Why Revive Me?
Psalm 143:11 picks up a theme that I have seen many times in the Word.  David is imploring God to revive him.  Look at the basis for that request.  David asks God to revive him for the sake of God’s name.  The request David makes for revival is not based on David’s need, rather it is concern for God’s name.  David’s revival will reflect well on God.  Of course it will not hurt David.

Too often in my prayer, really most often, it is for my sake that I am crying out to God.  My prayer is centered on me; what I want, need.  It is about my program, not God’s.

David rebukes me here.  I have much to learn concerning prayer.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reproof and Wisdom

I was reading earlier today Psalm 141:5.  There are times when I read a passage that others that deal with similar themes pop into mind.  That happened today.  That led me to start looking at the cross-references in my Bible.  That lead me to the following passages starting with Psalm 145:5
Reproof and Wisdom
  • Psalm 145:5
  • Proverbs 6:23
  • Proverbs 8:33
  • Proverbs 9:8 – 9
  • Proverbs 10:8
  • Proverbs 13:18
  • Proverbs 15:5
  • Proverbs 15:31 – 32
  • Proverbs 19:25
  • Proverbs 21:11
  • Proverbs 25:12
  • Proverbs 27:6
  • Ecclesiastes 7:5
  • Ecclesiastes 9:17
  • Matthew 7:24
  • Galatians 6:1
  • Hebrews 3:13
My conclusion is that not only should I be open to the reproof of those who are walking closely with the Lord, I should be seeking that reproof, that is wisdom.  Secondly, I need to be faithful to build into the lives of those whom the Lord has brought into my life to speak clearly into their lives.

Not always easy, on either side of the equation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Waiting

This morning I spent some time in Psalm 127:1 – 2, and Psalm 130:5.  Thinking through those passages led me to James 1:20 and John 15:5.  Here are my thoughts.
Waiting
Notice in Psalm 127:1 – 2 that the word “vain” shows up three times.  The word can mean emptiness.  David is reminding us that apart from the Lord anything we do is empty, nothing.  It does not matter how long or how hard I work, if the Lord is not in it, it is empty, nothing.

That drove me to John 15:5 and James 1:20.  John says similar things to David.  If I do not abide in Christ, I can accomplish nothing.  James tells me that my anger cannot accomplish the righteousness of God.

My passion, my effort, my anger, can produce zilch, zero, nada apart from Him.

Psalm 130:5 then reinforced this.  David declares his habit of waiting on the Lord.  That feels a whole lot like abiding to me.  It is not the same word in the Septuagint, but the idea is the same.  I need to wait.  I need not to run ahead of God.  I do.

I have a bias to action, to do, to fix, to make something happen.  Produces zilch, zero, nada, apart from God.  Rather than engage, I need to wait, to ask, to find out what it is God wants to do.  Sure He gifted me, He has shaped my life by giving me experiences and skills, but I am His tool, this is His story, not mine.  I must not run off and engage just because I can.  Rather, I need to listen.  I need to wait.  I need to follow.

Not easy for one who has been trained to fix, to serve, to engage.  But that is the only way to not only maximize His gifts in me but to avoid zilch, zero, nada.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Working Together for Good

Romans 8:28 is a verse we quote a lot.  Many of us have it memorized.  It is a source of solace for us in many of the things that we face on a daily basis.  I was thinking about that earlier today and I am wondering if we may be over using that passage.
Working Together for Good
Looking closely at the passage the promise is conditional.  It has two conditions.  The first is that  the one who has all things work together for good, loves God.  When we examine the concept of Loving God throughout the arc of the New Testament, the idea of loving God is not a casual thing.  It is a commitment, all in, Him first, kind of thing.  We don't just like to be associated with Him, we put Him first, over even our life.

The second condition is that we are called, the text says literally, "according to purpose."  Most of your Bibles add "His" before purpose, the immediate and overall context of the Bible supports that addition.

The point is that it is only as we love Him and are involved in His purpose do all thing work together for good.  It does not seem to be a blanket that we throw over all circumstances in our lives.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Have You Listened

Yesterday as we drove to church, as per usual, we had the radio on a local Christian station that plays worship music on Sunday morning.  Matter of fact the program is called Worship.  We were talking about something else but I was listening to the words of one of the songs, it is one that we sing regularly in our fellowship and one I have played and led.  It dawned on me that the words were not Biblical, and certainly not worshipful.  The entire focus of the song was on God making us happy, meeting our needs.  That is not what the Bible says He is about.
Have You Listened
Interestingly, in our Sunday school class, the teacher made a comment that was in line with my observation.  He said that one of the things that causes people problems with God is that they misunderstand His purpose.  They think that God is supposed to be focused on giving us what we want and meeting our desires.  There are whole theologies constructed on that sand.

The problem is that view of God’s purpose does not explain suffering, martyrdom, persecution, or God’s discipline.

Notice the lyrics of the songs you sing next?  Ask yourself the question, does this song glorify the majesty, power, and might of God or does it focus on Him being our servant?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What is Worship?

There are a number of things that confuse me about how we conduct church.  One of the main ones is how we define worship.  For the most part, in most of the churches I have attended, worship is defined as the music section that happens before the message.  There may also be some musical solo there.
What is Worship?
That bothers me.

Now, full disclosure here, I am a musician of sorts, I have played guitar for 53 years.  I have lead singing in more Christian meetings than I can hope to remember, I have been some of that special music in services.  My wife and all my children are also musicians and have served or are serving in that same capacity.  So I like music.  I like most of what we sing in the churches now – most of it, but that is another post, probably tomorrow.

When I read the Psalms, there is music there, instruments as well, which begs the question of why there are some churches that ban instruments.  But there is much more in the Psalms than music.  Psalm 119 leaps to mind, Davis Opus Maxim on his love for the Word of God.  And there is the source of my bother.

It is the Word of God that reveals the nature and character of God, 2 Peter 1:2 – 4, among many others.  When we open the Word of God it is much like stepping into the throne room of God.  He reveals Himself through this Book.  What we see there should drive us to our knees.  It should humble us.  It should break our hearts at the beauty and majesty of what we see in those pages.  When the pastor shares, he should be using that Word to paint a picture of the glorious Lord whom we serve.

It seems that should be the center of our worship.  Am I missing something here?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Faithfulness of the Enemy

Happens every time.  Getting ready for a mission, or a 10 week workshop, or some other project that has the potential to have an impact on the Kingdom, the enemy attacks.
The Faithfulness of the Enemy
The attacks take different forms, things break, flights get canceled, materials/luggage gets lost, connections overseas are not made, family issues surface at the last minute, arguments break out, finances get messed up, and an array of other schemes.  If it does not happen just before I leave, it happens to my wife while I am gone.

For example on one trip I made sure all the bills were paid and there was enough money in the bank to cover my wife’s needs while I was gone.  When I turned on my phone after landing back in the US, my phone nearly exploded with overdraft notices.  The bank had misapplied the deposit.  That took a week to clear up.

For this series of trips there has been another array of attacks.  Often I recognize what is happening.  There are many times I do not until after the event.  That happened tonight.  Something came up and it was not until afterwards that I recognized it as one of his schemes.

You are familiar with Ephesians 6:10 – 20, the armor of God passage.  You know that we are to be strong in the Lord so we can stand firm against the devil’s schemes.  Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 that we are to be on constant alert.

It is not easy.  We get busy.  We get focused on the task at hand.  Then he strikes.  I have to be a better lookout.