A balanced child

May 28, 2011

Try it yourself!!!

A Balanced child!

Written prayers are most helpful creations. I find (personally for me) written prayers (either my own or historic liturgies) are to me strong guides for prayer times. Oftener than not, my mind wanders or I am not sure what to pray and those who love Jesus more than I and who have spent the time and energy thinking Biblically in their own prayer lives are my tutors. The bibline prayers of the saints who have gone before are rich with depth and meaning–more so than, “Help me today, Jesus.” The prayers of old might seem archaic at first but at second glance and with a little reflexion display deep roots in the heart of the Bible.
So, following Pastor Dove’s exhortation this morning to sleep well in Christ, let us ponder the simplicity of the good Dr.’s prayers on providential sleep:

LUTHER’S MORNING PRAYER

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

LUTHER’S EVENING PRAYER

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

WWJD redux

May 9, 2011

What follows are reflexions of a small group discussion of Psalm 2 following the morning’s sermon on the text.

When I began to change my thinking along the lines of what it means that Jesus is King, I redeauxed (re-did or re-vamped) the ubiquitous acronym What-Would-Jesus-Do-? into…..wait for it…..WORLD WIDE JESUS DOMINATION!!! Now, while most of us evangelocos know that Jesus is King in some sense I fear it’s an impotent one. If anything Jesus is King in the sense that the President elect is only “in-waiting” until inauguration day. That Jesus is waiting to be King when he returns some remote day ahead, however, is not the Biblical idea. Nor is it the Biblical idea that, “Yes, Jesus is King, but only of the church.”

No, the Biblical idea is precisely that Jesus has been made both Lord (kyrios) and King (christos) and that as such it is to him all rulers and authorities must bend the knee. Psalm 2 is a good place to start:

Why do the nations assemble noisily and
the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his [King], saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart and
cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion,
my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me,
“You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and
the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron and
dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and
rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and
you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Hear now the words of the Westminster Larger Catechism on Jesus’ official status as King:

Q. 45. How does Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executes the office of a king, in calling out of the world a people to himself, and giving them officers, laws, and censures, by which he visibly governs them; in bestowing saving grace upon his elect, rewarding their obedience, and correcting them for their sins, preserving and supporting them under all their temptations and sufferings, restraining and overcoming all their enemies, and powerfully ordering all things for his own glory, and their good; and also in taking vengeance on the rest, who know not God, and obey not the gospel.

Some key ideas to focus on are these:
a. giving laws
b. governing
c. restraining
d. overcoming
e. taking vengeance

Again, most of us are inclined to limit this reign to the church and then spiritually apply all of the gerunds somehow to that sphere. That, I fear, is too small of a King. What does Jesus think of his position as King?
He declares to his disciples at his Ascension (Ascension as what and whence does he ascend?), “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me–going therefore and making disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What does Jesus mean “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”? “Heaven and earth” is a figure of speech wherein totality is expressed. Where does Jesus reign? “Where e’er the sun does its successive journeys run; his kingdom spreads from shore to shore til moon shall wax and wane no more!” Jesus not only rules and reigns over his people the Church, but also over all the other nations regardless of whether or not they name the Name.
That, then is part of our upward calling in Jesus: we are to go to the nations and declare that Jesus is King and that allying oneself to his person (taking refuge in him) is in one’s best interest, else one should find himself “perishing in the way.” That is the Gospel in a nutshell: Jesus is King. Submit to him. Or die.

This presentation of Jesus as King might very well be helpful in presenting the Gospel to unbelievers. One member of the group mentioned the difficulty of bringing up “sin” in sharing the Gospel. I suggested that this presentation above would be a way around that at least initially. What could then happen in regards to the “sin” issue is the honest confession by the one sharing the Gospel of his own personal rebellion against the Lord and his Anointed. This personal confession of sin will naturally plant the “sin” seed in the mind of the one hearing the Gospel and perhaps put them at ease, enabling them to reflect upon the posture of their own hearts.

Fire Hydrant Theology

January 3, 2011

Bring on that Symbolic Biblical Language! I can take it!!

If you weren’t able to hear the sermon, here it is. Jesus, cut off: A Theology of Circumcision

Rather than repeating myself (and to buy myself some time), I’ll just open up the floor to any questions, comments, or challenges (ahem, DAN!).

Fodder for thought:

1) Did you go and read Genesis 22 in light of what was said about 3rd days and resurrection?
2) Why not?
3) And now?
4) Think of how long Jesus’ ministry lasted
5) and how many journeys the Apostle Paul took.
6) Anything else confuse or bring other questions to mind?

Here are some key reiterations upon which you might continue to meditate:

~~One language to rule them all; One language to guide them; One language to reveal them all; and in the Light unbind them.
The one language that the Bible uses to rule over all other spoken languages is the language of symbolism or typology.

~~Typology in the Bible–the Bible’s language of symbolism– that which pictures in the OT what finds its fullest reality in the NT either through the person and work of Jesus or through the relationship that God has with his people.
In the OT, God used various pictures and manifold ideas to teach his people what he meant by what he said and did whenever he did or said anything. In the OT, God used various pictures and manifold ideas
to teach his people truths about who and what they were as sinners in need of deliverance.

~~In the OT God orchestrated enough historical and sacrificial events that symbolized what he would do in and through Jesus’ work as Messiah on the 3rd and 7th and 8th days. Biblically speaking 3 is half of 7
and very often represents testing or trials midway through a symbolic “week”. And so when the 3rd hour or day or month or year comes along it’s a crucial turning point to which we must pay attention.
7 is the number of creation which was subjected to futility and so needed renewal on the 8th day which is the beginning of a new week.

~~this is what most people do not understand about the sacraments: the sacraments are both promissory and threatening; they hold out both life and death to the recipient and the determining factor in whether or not it is life or death is the presence of a life of faith.

~~When Abraham heard God’s explanation of this maledictory ritual he understood God to be saying, “I am the source of your life—-stay in covenant with me and you will live; I am the source of your life—-separation from me will lead to death.

~~And this is really what we are to understand is meant when the Bible speaks about breaking the covenant
from this text we need to see that breaking the covenant is more than merely sinning against God; simply sinning is not breaking the covenant breaking covenant with God is to depart from God in disbelief.

~~When Paul here says, the removal of the body of the flesh, he is referring to the rite of circumcision as it was practiced since Abraham–but also as it was not practised by the Gentiles. Much of what Paul has written in his epistles has to do with the abusive attitude the Jews had toward the Gentiles re: circumcision. Judiasm in Paul’s day was not the religion of Moses but an aberration; Judaism in Paul’s day said no Gentile could be saved unless he was circ’d, but circumcision was never, ever, required for someone to be saved in the Bible.

~~What we need to understand is when Paul talks about the circumcised and uncircumcised, he is not talking about believing Jews and unbelieving “other people”. In Romans 2 and 4 Paul is talking about believing Jews who were circumcised and believing Gentiles who were not. Notice that Abraham is spoken of there as “father of all who believe and are c’d”—-meaning Jews; and he is “father of all who believe without being c’d”—-meaning God fearing Gentiles like Cornelius in Acts 10. What Paul is not saying is this, “Abraham is father to those who believe but choose not to be circumcised b/c circumcision is not really that important.”
No, Paul knew what we normally do not: Paul knew that Moses never taught or required Gentiles who confessed Yahweh as their one, true God to be circumcised. It was only those who were physical descendants of Abraham who had to be circumcised as priests to the nations for a specific purpose in redemptive history.

~~So, to sum up: in the OT there were people who were saved by faith in the one true and living God;
one group began with men like Abel and Seth and Noah and Melchizedek and Abraham and these were saved by faith without being circumcised.
The other group began with men like Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses and these were saved by faith, too, but were also circumcised.

~~In Colossians 2 Paul shows that spiritually speaking the removal of the body of flesh happens for everyone by faith in Christ. By the circumcision of Christ, Paul says, you are circumcised in your baptism;
you get the circumcision made without hands which is being united by faith to Christ in his crucifixion;
which is the fulfillment of circumcision in it fullest sense. You and I are freed from our offenses against God in Christ’s circum-crucifixion; instead of our being cut off from God because of Adam’s breaking the covenant
as our covenant head we have a new covenant head who has not only kept the covenant for us but who also went under the knife for us. Because Jesus was cut off, cruci-circum-fied for us, we will not be cut off.

Jesus: A Lover and a Fighter

December 28, 2010

Uh, what he just said--what'd he say?

In case you missed the sermon:Jesus: A lover and a fighter

I got a couple of quizzical looks this past Day of the Lord during my talk which leads me to believe either I might have been foggy on a point or two OR (and this is more likely ;^/ ) the points I was making challenged the listener to process new thoughts.

One of the quizzicals occurred when I was waxing @ the sin of Achan and his becoming a part of the ban. The idea of the ban or that which is devoted to Yahweh and offered up to him in smoke is best seen from this passage in Deuteronomy:
None of those condemned things shall be found in your hands, so that Yahweh will turn from his fierce anger; he will show you mercy, have compassion on you, and increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your forefathers…
As I said on Sunday, Achan, by reaching out and taking what belonged to Yahweh, took to himself what was holy. In so doing, that principle of holiness spread to him and made him included in what was to be offered up to God. So, I made the application that God’s people must not become like those who do not love God and have God as their enemy; else the people of God will find that God is no longer Immanuel for them but “a” satan. The word “satan” in the Bible, while being used most often of the being known also as the Devil, is also used of God in the sense I am using. Satan is simply the English rendering of the Hebrew word לשׂטן
and means adversary. Is God an adversary? Yes, to his enemies primarily. But, yes, too, regarding his people if they choose to become enemy-like to him.

Any other thoughts?

As always Pastor Dove gives us food for “pondering.” Having so much to chose from, I’ll limit myself to one of his applications. This comes from his third point, “The Naming of the Child.” PD made the point that Jesus’ given name (rather than the one Isaiah~Matthew mentions) means “YaHWeH saves.” The questions begged are “Who is saved?” and “Saved from what?” After leading up to his application, PD, says, “When tempted, go to Jesus. He will help you.” I’d like to camp out here and bear a bit of my soul to you all.

What does it mean to go to Jesus and he will help you? What does that look like? What does it smell and feel like? Does Jesus show up and save the day when we call on him? Does he check his “Inbox” and send an angel to show us the way? I have to say that I have called on Jesus in times of turmoil and without exception…there’s been no answer. Just silence. So, what does that mean? What does it mean to “go to Jesus in your time of need and he will help you”?
I can remember when I was at a new job that put a lot of stress on me and I was continually locked up with panic and fear. What did I do? Where did I go? Where do you go when you need some shelter? Where do you go when you need a friend? I went to Jesus in prayer and asked for his help. For four weeks I did this and to no avail. The stress never subsided and the panic only increased. After the four weeks passed (with no answer to prayer in sight), I was driving passed a church marquee that read, STRESSED? TRUST JESUS. Needless to say, I wanted to smash into the sign with my car.
Have you been there? I doubt I’m the only one and I’m not afraid to be honest with you about my own struggles. So, what happened? Nothing. I just made it through. And I often wonder(ed), “What is the difference b/t me when I ask for help and don’t get it and just push through and a non-believer who just pushes through without any “Spiritual” help?
How ’bout you?

I did think of a song by an artist named Mindy Smith, that reminds me of the call to “Come to Jesus.”