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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Doubt

For the past eight years Entrusting Truth has been a faith based ministry.  That is we depend on donations to survive – Side note: this is the second time my wife and I have lived this way, when we were first married we were on staff with a Christian organization for over 9 years, we said we would never do that again.  Two lessons: first, never say never when dealing with God.  Second, He has a sense of humor…
Doubt
Last year, in terms of donations, was a really good year.  We had more donated to the ministry than we have had since we started, frankly I think we had more donated than we ever did in the previous ministry.  Some of the donations were to support overseas projects.  We started the year with a little left over and some of the pressure was off.  But…

One of the men I worked with shortly after seminary told me once that one of my challenges is that I am a good planner, project manager.  I think way ahead.  As I was looking at the year to come I began to wonder if we were going to have financial challenges.  Like many others making all of the ends line up each month is a continual battle.

I was at the local coffee shop with my journal pouring coffee down my throat and my heart out to God over my concern, doubt.  Never mind that He has never allowed us to go hungry or without shelter.  O me of little faith was worried.  I have all the appropriate verses memorized about faith and His provision but at the moment they were not kicking in.

Have you ever read George Muller’s autobiography?  You should.  This one built orphanages all over the UK asking only God for support.  The stories of God’s provision for Muller are astounding.  Read it, you will like it.  I shared that because he was always getting up off his knees and the answer to his needs would be at the door.

So I finished pouring coffee and my heart at Starbucks and drove home.  The mail had come.  There was a substantial check in the mail for the ministry.  Muller moment.

I was grateful, thankful, humbled, and ashamed.  Ashamed that I did not trust Him who has been so good to us over the years more completely.  Then I began to think about what happened.  The check was mailed long before I went to Starbucks.  The prompting of the Lord in the hearts of those who wrote the check happened before the check was put in the mail.  The Lord had moved to answer my need, to assuage my doubt, long before I brought it to Him.

He is good.  Really good.

Friday, January 30, 2015

With Him

For over nine years I was with a ministry that stressed the truth of Mark 3:14, I have never recovered.  I firmly believe that in order to best help someone with their walk with God you have to be with them, life to life.
With Him
In Mark 3:14 Jesus continues and expands His habit of withdrawing from the masses and essentially doubles down by selecting 12 men into which He will pour His life.  He has come to announce the Kingdom of God.  He has come to establish a new entity that will be a joining of Jews and Gentiles into a Body to which He will return when it is time to have the kingdom fully present.  To do that He focuses His attention on 12 men one of whom He knows will betray Him.

Mark states that the reason was so that they would be “with Him, and that He could send them out to proclaim (my translation, preach is overused for that Greek word).

Now consider the passage I mentioned yesterday, Deuteronomy 17:14 – 20.  The King of Israel is to make a handwritten copy of the Law and he is to keep it “with him”.  In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the OT, the Greek, with him, is the same as in Mark 3:14.  Is this significant?  It seems to be.

The Israeli king is to lead the kingdom, to do so in the way his Lord intended.  In order to do so he needed to be intimately acquainted with whom he was to represent, he needed to know and fear his Lord.  To do that he needed constant exposure to the Word, Law, of his Lord.

The twelve were the foundation stones of the Church.  They were the initial leaders, movers, and shakers of that Body.  As such they needed to be intimately acquainted with whom they were to represent.  They needed to be intimately exposed to His life; and they were for three years.

Do you see the parallel?  To know God, to be prepared to lead, one must be really close to God, to know Him well.  We can no longer walk with Jesus physically as the 12.  But we have more than the Law.  We have the prophets, the writings, the Gospels, the Epistles, and Revelation.

We must as the king, be with Him in His Word, daily.  That is our chief source of knowing Him well…

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Required of a King

This morning I was in a Bible study with a friend in another country.  We do this online with video.  We were in Jeremiah 21 – 22.  One of the main themes in Jeremiah is the abandonment of the rulers, prophets, and priests, the leaders, of Judah of the Word of God.  Chapter 23 is key on this.
Required of a King

My friend made a connection, a cross reference, to what we were studying in 21 – 22, Deuteronomy 17:14 – 20.  There the Lord says through the Law, that one of a kings responsibilities is to make a personal, handwritten copy of the Law, Genesis – Deuteronomy.  He is then to keep it with him and read it all the days of his life.  That was not happening in Jeremiah.

It occurs to me that passage, that law for the king, underscores the importance of the Word of God for all of us.  The purpose was so that the king would learn “to fear the Lord his God”.  We certainly need learn to fear God.  A friend of mine posted a comic on facebook, the picture above (this is the link but it is not a permalink so it may not work).  It is a list of  “Christian” best sellers.  It seems to me that none of those are going to function as well as Genesis – Deuteronomy, and or Joshua – Revelation in helping us to learn to fear God.

What’s going on with the Body?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Still No Time...

Essentially I have been asleep all day.  Drinking fluids and taking pills, spraying my sore throat.  I feel like Joe Banks, “I have a brain cloud” – (obscure Joe Versus the Volcano reference) Could not find the picture for which I was looking so that is all today…

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

No Time

So this morning I got out of bed after not sleeping most of the night.  Coughing, drainage, sneezing – hard to sleep when all of that is going on…  I went to my part time job and the longer I was there the worse I felt.  I finally surrendered at around two, came home and discovered I had about 3 degrees of fever.  Could not get into the doctor so I went to Urgent Care…
No Time
Hour and a half later they had ruled out flu and strep.  I left with two prescriptions.  We changed insurance at the first of the year.  We had told the pharmacy but somehow they did not get it into their computer correctly so it took two hours to fill the prescriptions…

This is a busy week.

From about 1230 on I was thinking, “I do not have time for this!”  I have three studies between now and Thursday noon, I start teaching an 8 week Sunday school class this Sunday.  I have not completed prep…  I do not have time to be sick.
But sick I am.

The older I get the reality of 2 Corinthians 12:7 – 10 is clearer and clearer to me.  I am, my flesh is terribly weak.  Does not matter how much I work out…  A microscopic bug can take me out in a day.  That forces me to rely on Him.

I don’t like it.  I don’t have time for it.  But the upside is I get to learn to trust Him more effectively…

Monday, January 26, 2015

Leave Me Alone!

You ever told Jesus that?  I have.  I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.  It was something I should not have been doing, but I wanted to anyway.  I was feeling guilt and that guilt was building.  I said it out loud.  He did leave me alone, for a time.
Leave Me Alone!
In Mark 5:14 – 20 after the people heard what the herdsmen said about what Christ did with the demoniac.  They “implored” Christ to leave.  He did.

Think of it.  The Lord of the universe follows our wishes.  He leaves us alone if we ask.  He left the region when asked.  That should scare you senseless.  It sure does me.

The only thing that comforts me is in Mark 5:18 – 20.  Christ assigned the restored demoniac the task of telling the people who asked Him to leave, the truth of the gospel.

Years later that same thing happened to me.  But I wonder what would have happened if I had not asked Him to leave me alone…

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Angry with God?

Ever been Angry with God?  If you are, you are in good company.  David was.  He was called a man after God’s own heart, Acts 13:22, 1 Samuel 13:14.
Angry with God?
David was angry because God struck down one of David’s men for attempting to stabilize the ark.  There was a lot wrong with what David and his men were doing in moving the ark, but that did not temper David’s response.

I have struggled with things God has done in my life.  Read that, I was angry.  I have known believers who were angry that a loved one was taken “prematurely.”

David models for us how to deal with our responses to God’s actions or lack thereof in several of his psalms.  Look, for example, at Psalms 10 and 12.  Habakkuk complains to God that He has not acted to discipline His faithless people, Habakkuk 1:2 – 4.

Your anger, mine, is not a shock to God.  Psalm 139:2 – 4 assures us that He knows what we think and say from afar… and in the Hebrew that is time not distance.  We cannot tell Him anything that He does not already know.

So we tell Him we are angry with Him.  In specific terms, like David did.  Look at the impact that had on David in the last half of Psalms 10 and 12.  His anger, his disappointment turned to praise.

Do not hide your anger.  Express it to God.  He already knows.  He will engage.  You will praise.

Long Day

It is after midnight.  This is the first time all day I have been at my computer.  So while there is a lot that I would like to share, it will have to wait until tomorrow, well later today…
Long Day
Some days are like that…

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why are Bibles Different? So what?

The last couple of days I have shared how and why Bibles are different.  How should that impact the way we use them, or should it?
Why are Bibles Different?  So what?
First, I forgot to mention the major version that follows the dynamic equivalent philosophy, the NIV.

Devotionals/Quiet Time/Reading Program
You could use any of the three types for these.  It would be a good idea to change what you use for this from time to time.  Sometimes when you read the same thing over and over you miss content because of your familiarity with it.

Study
Do not study a paraphrase.  A paraphrase is too distant from the original to get a real sense of what the author has written.  Further, the one who has created the paraphrase will have made interpretive decisions that are essentially a commentary on the text.  Doing so makes it easier to read but robs you of the discipline of struggling through the text on your own.  Analysis of a paraphrase would be like studying the character Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings movies in order to get to know Ian McKellen.

For your study you should use a literal translation, some of those are KJV, NJKV, RSV, NASB, ASV, ESV, and there are probably others that I can’t think of at the moment.  Read the introduction to your Bible and it will tell you if it is literal.  I would not recommend using the dynamic equivalent NIV by itself.  There are too many instances where the committee’s choices badly obscure what the original text says.

It is a good practice to use two or more literal versions in parallel.  If you use a literal version in parallel with the NIV that would alleviate most of the issues.  When you use versions in parallel look for significant differences in the way the passage is translated.  If you see that, it is an indication that there is something in the text that is difficult to translate.  That should be a signal that you need to slow down and look harder at that passage.

I would not use translations by themselves for study either.  It is too easy for theological bias to creep in to a single person’s work.

Conclusion
We are incredibly blessed with the resources we have, particularly in English.  When you read a literal version you can be fairly confident that you are getting the sense of what the original says.  Isaiah 40:8 is a promise that the Lord made that is unconditional.  We can be confident that He will keep it.

Posts in this series:
Why are Bibles Different?
Why are Bibles Different?  Starting Point, Translations, and Paraphrases…

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Why are Bibles Different? Starting Point, Translations, and Paraphrases…

Starting Point
A further issue is which version of the original language is being used as the starting point.  In the New Testament the King James is a literal translation of what is referred to as the Textus Receptus.  It is also the basis of most of the translations that were made into common languages during the reformation.  Most of the modern translations will use what is referred to as the eclectic text.  The primary difference is the eclectic text takes into account the massive amount of ancient documents and fragments of documents that have been found in archeological digs since the reformation.
Why are Bibles Different?  Starting Point, Translations, and Paraphrases…
Textual scholars compare and contrast the different readings in the papyri, uncials, minuscules, and lectionaries in an attempt to reconstruct as closely as possible the original autographs.  This is an ongoing and comprehensive effort.  As noted above most modern versions are based on the results of this work.  In your Bible that will typically show up with either verses skipped or bracketed with a marginal note that explains that the earliest and best manuscripts do not contain the verse.  The most common examples are John 7:53 – 8:11 and pretty much everything after Mark 16:8.

To some extent the same discipline applies to the Old Testament but I am not as well versed on its application to the Hebrew manuscripts.  Read the introduction to your Bible to learn how the committee handled the Old Testament manuscripts.

Translations
You may have a translation rather than a version.  What is the difference?  A translation is one person’s work from the Greek or Hebrew.  Tyndale and Luther both did translations.  One of the best known in English is the Phillips.  Wuest is yet another.
Translations are good but do not have the advantage of running their work by peers.  It is their work and can reflect some bias.  I have translated most of the New Testament.  I certainly would not want anyone to use my translation uncritically.

Paraphrases
Paraphrases are typically one person’s work starting from, usually, English, and thought by thought putting that thought into more culturally relevant language.  The Living Bible, Todays English Version, and The Message are examples of paraphrases.  Since the starting point is a version or translation, a paraphrase has at least one level of separation from the original text.
While they are easy to read, they are not the best for study – but I get ahead of myself.

So What?
How do we, as believers, make the best use of these differences and how can they best help us in our walk with Christ?  I will make some suggestions on that tomorrow…

Posts in this series:
Why are Bibles Different?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why are Bibles Different?

If you have been around the Christian community very long you will know that there are many different versions of the Bible available.  You may have had the experience, as I have, of being in a group or worship service with someone reading a passage of Scripture.  As you are reading along with them, you get lost because their version is so much different from yours.  That experience is exacerbated if they are reading a paraphrase.
Why are Bibles Different?
What is up with that?  They all start from the same place don’t they?  Maybe.

The reality is that there are at least three types of Bibles available at your local Christian book store.  Some of those types have subtypes.  Generally, the types are versions, translations, and paraphrases.

The starting place for versions is the original Hebrew and Greek text.  At the top level there is a committee of scholars that translate the text into the target language.  There are different philosophies of translation, the two predominant are literal and dynamic equivalent.

Those that working under a literal philosophy will work hard at closely following what the original says.  The challenge is that it is unintelligible to move word for word from one language to the next.  The grammars and syntax of the languages never match so in many cases the word order will have to be altered or more than one word will have to be used to translate a particular word.  The KJV, RSV, NASB, and ESV are examples of literal translations.

Those that work under dynamic equivalence strive to capture the thought behind the text.  Rather than attempt to capture the literal meaning, which does make a version in some cases harder to read, the committee attempts to faithfully capture the thought of the text.  It normally makes the work easier to read.

The starting point for versions can be different.  I will share that tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Learning

A lot of my time is spent either in Bible study or equipping others to do Bible study.  In most cases – this may sound arrogant but it is not intended to – I know more about the Bible than those with whom I am interacting.
Learning
Because of that I seek out those who can push me in the Word.  Some of those people are authors with whom I interact through their books.  I have on three occasions contacted professors I had in seminary.  But the primary means is the study I joined a couple of years ago on Tuesday morning.  The men in that study have been studying the Word deeply and at least as long as I have.  They push me.

This morning one of the men shared what he saw out of the passage we were studying.  I have several hours invested in the study – but I did not see what he saw.  It was awesome.  I was challenged, encouraged, and exhorted to do better by what he saw.

On the other had I have been in a study for about two years now with a pastor in another country.  Most of that time we have been focused on equipping him to study the Word more effectively.  It took some time but we have weaned him off of commentaries.  Last week in the passage we were studying he made some observations that I completely missed and this is my fourth time through that book in the past couple of years.  I was beyond thrilled.

Two things.  We need to find those who push us in our understanding of the Word and our relationship with Christ.  Second, those whom the Lord allows us to help, including and most importantly, our kids, we need to build into their lives so that they get to the point that they are seeing more than we do in the Word of God.

When that happens, I begin to understand Paul in 1 Thessalonians 3:8.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Great Questions

Met with a good friend today.  It has been a while.  I was out of the country a lot in November and December and when I was here I was traveling elsewhere.  Add that to the fact that he is on sabbatical and we have had a hard time connecting.
Great Questions
One of the things I appreciate about him is that he asks good questions.  Hard questions, but good.  He asked what the highlights of last year were, there were a lot.  He processed some of the projects I did last year with me by asking which were the most strategic.

They were not easy questions to answer.  I will have to take some time to really think through what he asked.  He was pushing me to use my gifting and design most effectively.  I need him.  I need friends like him.

His questions were a gracious gift.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Earnestly Imploring

Ever been in despair?  So deeply troubled, fearful, disoriented that you cried out to God for relief?  Perhaps you did not have words to express what you – well that is when you do what Romans 8:28 says, groan too deep for words.
Earnestly Imploring
Mark 5 has two such instances recorded.  They are very much in contrast.  The first is in Mark 5:1 – 20.  You know the story, it is about the Gerasene demoniac.  The demoniac earnestly implores Christ to not torment him, and he does it by invoking God, which I find interesting.  He continues imploring not to be sent out of the country but into the swine with the first instance of deviled ham in recorded history as the result.

In the same context the people in the surrounding area implore Christ to leave – strange reaction to the casing out of a legion of demons from a man that they could not restrain.  So Christ leaves and while doing so the one who was freed from the legion of demons implores Christ to let him come with Him.  Christ tells him no, go tell others what I have done for you.

Back across the sea of Galilee, a man implores Christ earnestly to save his daughter.  After a side bar with a woman, Christ raises the daughter from the dead.

One man full of demons – well the demons actually – implore Christ not to torment them, the terrified crowd implores Him to leave, and the demonless man implores Christ to let him come with Him.  The distraught, hopeless father earnestly implores Christ to come heal his daughter, who in the interim dies.

The emotional states represented in these scenes are intriguing.  The types of people involved run the gamut from fallen angels to terrified townsfolk to a grateful man to a distraught, terrified father.  The common denominator is that they all came to Christ.  They all recognized the power in Him, they all knew He was able to respond to their earnest imploring.

Christ responded to each as they implored, with the exception of the one He freed.  Him He assigned a ministry.

It scares me that He left when asked.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

No Other Good

It is pretty clear that I use the same devotional track each year... I wrote about this on this date last year as well, but this is a slightly different take...
No Other Good
What is on your wish list?  Better car?  Better house?  Better church?  Better schools?  What do you consider to be good?  A certain brand of clothes?  One political party over the other?  Your team winning it all?

I have lists like that.  Not necessarily written down, but they are there just the same.

Psalm 16:2 squashes that notion for me.  The second half of the verse, “I have no other good besides You.”

No other good – includes things like marriage, family, ministry, job, big screen TV, fill in the blank… No other good – zip, zero, nada…  Just Him.

I cannot honestly say that is the case with me.  How about you.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Blossoming Arrogance

There were a couple of verses in my reading today that seemed to capture some of what is going on in our culture and throughout the world.
Blossoming Arrogance
First, in Psalm 10:4 the Psalmist tells us that the wicked are haughty, that every thought they have is that there is no God.  When we disobey God we are betting that He is not concerned or that He is not really there.  When you consider all of the issues that are gaining traction these days, the legalization of perversion, the legalization of recreational drugs, the continual slaughter of children in the name of the rights of people to have pleasure without consequences.  It is clear that those do not believe that there is a God.  In reality we do the same when we knowingly disobey.

Then in Ezekiel 7:10, at the end of the verse Ezekiel pens the phrase, “arrogance has blossomed.”  If that does not describe this world succinctly I am at a loss for what would do so more effectively.  Rather than fearing God the world is thumbing their collective nose at Him.  Ignoring or perverting His Word.  Replacing Him with gods who are no gods but slave masters who bind men and women in the pursuit of death in their name.  Or worse, perhaps, those who know they do not need a god at all but are completely self-sufficient in their understanding of the universe and how it came to be.  Blithely dismissive of any need for a creator of this unfathomably complex universe in which we live.

The opposite of this blossoming arrogance is fear.  Fear of God.  Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7; 9:10, remind us that fear produces wisdom.

We have to choose, haughty arrogance or wisdom.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Becoming Good Soil

Mark 4 was the focus of the group this morning.  When we got to application, one of the men said that he wanted to be better soil for the Word of God.
Becoming Good Soil
Immediately (if you have read Mark you will get the lame attempt at humor in the use of that word here) I thought of preparing the soil of a garden.

We have had two rather large gardens on our journey.  One in Knoxville and one in Bowling Green, KY.  The one in Knoxville was on the side of a hill so we did raised terraces.  There was a lot of rocks.  So we had to till the soil and remove them.  In Bowling Green there was not a lot of rocks but there was a lot of clay.  So we had to add a lot of organic material, mulch, manure, and all of that had to be tilled.

So to be good soil or to improve the “soil” that we are, we have to have manure spread on us and that tilled into our lives.  Sounds a lot like suffering and discipline to me.  Which aligns fairly closely with Hebrews 12 and 1 Peter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Can We Save Someone?

You know the story in Mark 2:1 – 12.  Jesus is at home speaking to so many people that there is no more room.  Four men bring their buddy on a pallet and dig a hole in Jesus’ roof and let their buddy down.
Can We Save Someone?
Verse 5 is really intriguing to me.  “Seeing their faith,” Jesus forgives the sins of the man on the pallet.  There is no indication in the text that he asked anything of Christ.  It seems that he was forgiven on the basis of his friends’ faith.

Later when Christ tells him to get up, again, there is no indication that the man asked for healing.  Christ was angry at the scribes and grieved at their lack of compassion.

What can we glean from this?  About the four, we learn that these men were the paralytic's close friends.  They knew the problem.  They believed that Christ had an answer to their friend’s problem.  They went to extreme measures to get their friend in front of Christ.  Seemingly Christ honored that action.

Psalm 49:7 – 8 is pretty clear.  We cannot save someone.  But it seems like one application for us may be to follow the lead of the four.  There are many around us that do not know Christ.  First we have to really believe that Christ is the answer to their problem.  That problem is that they are completely cut off from God now and will be for eternity if that relationship does not change.  There are times when, if truth be told, I am not sure that I am completely convinced of that truth.  If I were, I would not be so hesitant to share.

Second, we do what the four did, go to extreme measures to get our friends in front of Christ.  It may not involve a shovel and a roof, but it may involve people saying about us, like I am sure some of the people in the crowd did of the four, “What is that idiot doing?”

There are times I do not want to be known as an idiot.  But the example of these four and Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19 – 23, reminds me that I need to do whatever it takes to get those I know in front of the Savior.

Where is that shovel?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Good?

Just got off of the phone with Chuck.  I was sharing a conversation we had this morning in our study of Mark 1.  One of the guys stated that he and God seemed to have a radically different definition of what is good.  I agree with that sentiment completely.  Hebrews 11:6, James 1:17, and Psalm 84:11 especially tells us that He gives good to those who follow Him, not to mention Romans 8:28.
Good?
Even a cursory reading of the New Testament, seems to call into question what is good.  For Paul the list in 2 Corinthians 6:4 – 10, that is good?  Seems like in God’s economy that is the case.

Chuck remarked during the conversation that we have to learn to define terms the way God does rather than trying to make God fit into our definitions.

Good advice, from one deep in the trenches.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Deep Roots

Studying Mark 1 this week I noticed something about the gospel.  In Mark 1:2 – 3, Mark quotes Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3.  If you have ever studied Mark, you know that he does not waste time getting into the meat of what he wants to share.  The book is fast paced, with a staccato like rhythm.  That speed can and has in the past caused me to rush through the book.  Mistake.
Deep Roots

Working through chapter 1 this time I asked the question why does Mark quote these passages here?  Why did the Holy Spirit, the ultimate author of Mark, put these here at the beginning?  Note that verse 1 says that Mark is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the first thing out of the blocks is the two Old Testament quotes.  Enquiring minds want to know, why?

What occurred to me is Mark is tying the gospel of Jesus Christ to both the major prophet Isaiah and the Minor prophet Malachi.  Isaiah spoke to Judah leading up to the time of the captivity.  Many of the messianic promises are in that book.  Malachi prophesied to Judah after they returned to the land and rebuilt the temple and the wall.

Mark is reminding us that this gospel is not a new idea.  It is deeply rooted in the plan of God revealed in the Old Testament.  Literally from Genesis 3 on God is about redeeming His people.  Everything that is recorded for us in the Old Testament lays the foundation for the coming of the Messiah.

Mark notes this and then immediately illustrates the connection describing how John fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3.

This is a strong way to start.  It is also a great place to show your kids the way the two testaments interact.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Homeward Bound

When I left the Air Force I moved into the basement of Chuck and Sharon Steen in Birmingham, Al; that was 1976.  Chuck and Sharon were on the staff of the Navigators.  I was there to get a job, learn more about Christ, and help start the ministry at UAB.
Homeward Bound

Sharon was one of the most godly – I was going to say women, but that is incorrect – people, man or woman I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  My wife just commented that she radiated Christ’s love.  Short, true, and to the point.

I am not sure why this sticks in my mind, but while living there, I had misplaced something in the house and was, in my normal type A mode, frantically searching for whatever it was.  Sharon noticed, asked what was wrong.  She then suggested we pray that I would find it.  We did, and a few minutes later I found whatever it was…  I do not remember what I had misplaced.  I do remember Sharon’s gentle suggestion that we pray, and the results.

Sharon left us this morning.  She went into the presence of Christ at about 11:30 Mountain Time.  I got a text from Chuck about that time.  She and Chuck have four daughters, three are married.  There are, I think, five grandchildren, they were all able to say goodbye this morning.

Sharon is not famous.  She has not written books or been on the speaking circuit.  But, she has had an enormous impact on the lives of countless people.  She entered the presence of Jesus hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Worries of the World

In Mark 4:13 – 20 when the Lord is explaining the parable of the soils to the disciples; He tells them that the seed sown among the thorns are the ones where the worries of the world, etc. enter in and choke the Word and it becomes unfruitful.
Worries of the World

John echoes this in 1 John 2:15 – 17.  Problem is, we live in this world.

I wrote five days ago that I was on hold with the IRS for about an hour.  They have sent me a bill for a penalty that I do not owe.  They are essentially asking me to pay for their incompetence.  I had to put together a package that they will “consider”.  In the middle of November I got a letter from them telling me that they needed another 45 days to figure out what to do.  Two weeks ago I got a letter telling me that they were going to levy my property to get the money that they had not had time to determine if I actually owed.  Which generated the hour on hold.

Today I got a letter from them that informed me that they need another 45 days to cogitate on this really complicated matter.  I guess they are busy working on how to collect all of the new taxes that went into effect on January 1.

So what does one do with this in light of Mark 4:13 – 20 and 1 John 2:15 – 17?

To me the intriguing thing in the Mark 4 passage is the verb, “enter in”.  I have a choice here.  I have a choice on what issues I allow entry into a central place in my thinking.  1 John also helps here.  This is only money – money and the side issue that I do not like what the government is doing with my taxes, but this is not a political blog…  Like Christ told the Pharisees in Mark 12:13 – 17, it is not Christ’s picture on the money.  We give what belongs to the government what is the government’s.  We give to God what is His.

We are His.

I cannot let what is meaningless distract me from His claim on my life.  I have to give it the minimum effort, to resolve it.  But I cannot allow it to enter in…

Friday, January 9, 2015

Projects and Tools

My dad’s kitchen faucet has been dripping the last several times we have visited.  Today’s project was to fix it.  The water where he lives is really hard, lot of minerals.  As I was attempting to unscrew the top of the faucet to remove the core, one of the bolts holding the fixture in place broke the result of 30 years of rust.
Projects and Tools
So this project morphed from changing out the core to replacing the faucet.  Dad and I went to the local home improvement store and got a faucet.  I started replacing the faucet.  Problem, the shut off valves started leaking when I turned them to shut off the water supply.  Problem the remaining bolt on the old faucet was corroded and in a position under the sink where it was impossible to get leverage.  Problem, some of dad’s tools were missing.

After a trip to the hardware store to purchase tools I was able to break the nut free and put on the new faucet.  It works but, problem, the thirty year old shut off valves leaked when I turned the supply back own…  Job for a plumber…

Lesson, all projects have to have the right tools to be done properly.  That includes any “project” we choose to do in the Bible; projects like my current study in Mark.

For the sink I needed a 9/16” deep socket and two extensions for the 3/8” ratchet.  For Mark, I need four tools: observation, correlation, interpretation, and application.  For the sink, the most important tools were the deep socket and the two extensions.  For Mark, observation and application.

The first few times I used wrenches on a project, I made some mistakes.  I have stripped some nuts and broken some bolts.  Over the years I have learned how to use wrenches and sockets more effectively.  I learned by practice and by learning from people who knew how to use tools better than I did.

I had the same issues with observation.  I learned over the years how to make better observations.  I learned both by practice over the years and by learning from people who knew how to make better observations.

What ever the project, we need the right tools.  But more importantly we need to know how to use them well.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

King?

I read something interesting in Psalm 93:1 today.  The interesting thing here for me is that the Lord clothes Himself.  His authority, His reign, His strength is not derivative, It is from Him.
King?
The next phrase is resultant of His strength.  The world is firmly established…  The creation stands and exists because of His choice.

A king is sovereign over his reign.  Sovereign means that he does what he wants in that reign.

It is interesting to me that as people we tend to limit, in our thinking or theology, what it is that the One who created this universe, sovereignty over that creation.  Our power, our intelligence, our understanding, which is derivative of His is what we use to limit Him.

Not sure that makes a lot of sense.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why?

If you have young children or grandchildren, you have been asked, “Why?”  Probably several times, back to back.
Why?
When our oldest was young we put him on a 20 minute break for asking questions.  He would watch the clock and as soon as 20 minutes was up, the questions started again.  That is how they learn.

But there are some whys that we as parents and grandparents need to answer before they are asked.
  • Why do I need to read the Bible?
  • Why do I need to go to church?
  • Why do I need to trust Christ?
How you answer those questions are going to shape how your kids or grandkids are going to develop in those areas.

The best way to answer these is not with words but with your life.  The kids and grandkids need to catch you doing these things.  Demonstration through your life is a really effective way to begin a conversation on these issues.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

One of Those Days

It was…  I was busy.  Couple of conference calls, on hold with the IRS for thirty minutes, twice.  Ran some errands.  Went to the bank.  Worked out.  Made some phone calls.  Wrote some emails, and sent out a prayer request.  Looking back on the day there was not a whole lot that seemed all that earth shaking.
One of Those Days
Much of our life is like that, or at least mine is.  The thing that I have to keep reminding myself is that I am supposed to do all of that mundane stuff as to the Lord, Colossians 3:17, 23.  Both verses start with “Whatever you do…”

Driving to the bank, as to the Lord…  What would that look like?  Picking up some vitamins for my wife, as to the Lord…  Would that mean that I would be more patient with the people that got in my way?  How do I represent Christ to those people who are at the other end of the pneumatic tubes at the two banks in which I made deposits?  Did the way I interacted with people in all of the places I needed to go reflect well on my Lord?  Did my conversations with the IRS agents draw them closer to Him?

There “wasn’t much going on” but in reality I interacted directly with at least 15 people, and several more on the streets saw how I drove…

…as to the Lord?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Not So Good News

What do you do when you get some news that is not good?
Not So Good News
Last night I got an email from one of my mentors.  He told me that his wife had a stroke yesterday morning.  I called and we talked for some time and prayed together on the phone.  This afternoon he told me that they will not know anything for about three days.  Hard to live through those three days.

When I got home tonight my wife was in tears.  She told me that our 2 month old granddaughter was currently legally blind.  Currently, because there is an 80 percent chance her sight will develop later.  That is not 100 percent.  She is struggling with other issues as well.  We will know in April.  Hard to live through those three months.

The anchor for my mentor and my daughter and her husband is that none of this took God by surprise.  Works for my wife and me as well…  That does not make dealing with it easier on a daily or monthly basis.  However, we know that there is purpose in what He does.

Working through Mark this morning I noticed that all of the people that came to Christ for healing were desperate.  I tried to put myself in their place a leper, a withered hand, an issue of blood, a daughter dying/dead, deaf with a speech impediment, blind, and another blind from birth.  We deal with things like that either personally or through our association with friends who are.

In either case our main, no our response has to be Hebrews 11:6 and prayer.  Desperate prayer.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Fresh Eyes

Mark is a book I have studied before.  I am in two studies in Mark now.  The last time through was six years ago.  So how would you proceed if you had done a study in a book six years ago and it came back up in one of your studies?  Dust off what you had done before?  Review that study?
Fresh Eyes
Prof continually beat into us that we needed to continually strive to read and study the Bible as if we had never read it before, with fresh eyes each time.  That is not easy to do.  Further, in an age when at work we are always looking for the most efficient way to do something, not looking at what we have done before seems at best inefficient.

But truth be told when re-engineering a process it is best to start with a blank sheet of paper.  Prof’s advice works at the office as well.

So for the past several days I have been working on an overview of Mark.  Tonight I finished going through the book paragraph by paragraph.  The next step is to divide it into sections with titles and then come up with a tentative title for the book.  Lastly picking the key verse and writing out an application, which I already have identified.

It may sound like work.  It is.  But it is the work that does what Paul says we need to do in Romans 12:2.  It transforms me, it renews my mind.

Truth is, I have seen connections already this time through that I overlooked six years ago.  No matter how many times I come to a book, it is always new.  That is why I need fresh eyes.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tradition or Truth

Mark 7:9 nearly knocked me out of my chair this afternoon.  I am working through the last stages of my overview of Mark, means I am charting the book by paragraphs.  Mark 7:1 – 13 has been a touchstone for me for years.  Jesus is quoting Isaiah 29:13 and then applying it to the practices of the Pharisees.
Tradition or Truth
Verse 9 stopped me this afternoon.  It made me wonder what commandment I am setting aside in order to keep my traditions.  Or what part of God’s Word am I ignoring so that I can do what I want to do.

I do that.

Particularly with those with whom I have struggled.  Christ says in Matthew 5:44 that we are to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us.  I have a list.  They say that friends come and go but enemies accumulate.  Christ says we are to love them and pray for them.  I have the list.  I do not pray much for them.  I would much rather nurse the bad feelings for them.

Our culture, tradition, is that we are not to get mad but get even.  Most of us have bought into that at some degree.  Not the way of the Savior.

I need to change that behavior.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Turning Away

Most of us live under some measure of guilt.  There is always more to get done.  My do list is never empty; my desk never clean.  There are emails to write, people to call, kids and grandkids with which to play, books that need to be read, and studies that need to be finished.
Turning Away
The kicker is I am not all that important.

Christ was.

Nine times in Mark Christ turns away from the crowds.  What?  Didn’t He want to reach the world?  Why did He do that?  It seems counter intuitive.  Rather than turn away shouldn’t He have put the pedal to the metal, implemented a strategic plan, doubled and redoubled His efforts?

He did not do that.  Reading Mark in places He tried to sneak in undetected.

After the busiest day we have on record He gets up early and goes out to be by Himself and pray, Mark 1:35.  In his book The Spirit of the Disciplines, Dallas Willard points out that if we want to be like Christ we should probably be doing what He did.

He did not do everything He was asked to do.  He did not heal everyone.  He did not speak to everyone He saw.  He left the crowds to get time alone with His Father and to invest in 12 men.

There are a lot of things, a lot of good things that demand our time.  If we follow Christ’s lead, we will turn away from some of those demands.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Beginning

No matter how last year went with your walk with God and your investment in your family, this year can be better.  This is not about resolutions.  Not a fan of those.  It is about choosing to allow Christ’s power to work in you this year.
Beginning
Paul said it best.  In Colossians 1:28 – 29; 1 Corinthians 15:10; and Philippians 1:6.

Christ told us how to do it in John 15:1 – 16

The one thing that you have to do is spend time with Him in His Word.  If you need help with that.  Let me know, I will help.