Wednesday, June 29, 2011

He is Here

Tonight the stars speak; they speak of a goodness beyond comprehension;
      Of a beauty far more vast than the heavens;
      Of a love that is indeed extravagant.
This is no legend nor myth;
      It is no farce nor satire
      No fairy tale nor spell.
There is a King who has come and done what is necessary
      Finished what must be done;
      Damned what must be damned;
     Satisfied what must be quenched.
Tonight the stars speak, they say, “He is here”
     “He is Lord”
     “He is Jesus.”
They cannot go on;
     Continue on;
     Finish up;
     Strive on.
If they have not heard of;
     Believed in;
     Rejoiced over;
This Jesus man and God;
    Perfect and human;
    Once dead but alive;
Seated and voicing his decree for the loved;
   The redeemed;
   The saved.
   That they are as he is;
Offspring of the Father;
   Righteousness of his righteousness;
   Blood of his blood;
   Flesh of his flesh.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Gravity of Understanding (Pt 6: Jesus Understood)

Remember how we began, talking about the awe of understanding something for the first time. Now let us return to that theme.
Let me describe something to you, something that you must understand. Something that will cause you to morn and weep and to rejoice in the extravagance of our God, something that you should, no, you need to feel the gravity of.

Let me describe this Jesus who we must understand. For all of Scripture speaks of him, he is the main character, he is the hero.

He is the radiance of the glory of God the exact imprint of his nature, having finished his work he now sits at the right hand of the throne on high (Heb 1:3). God’s glory is seen in his face (2 Cor 4:6). He is the God-man Jesus Christ (Phil 2:8).

Jesus the one who saves us, who intercedes on our behalf, who was tempted in every way like us but without sin (Heb 4:15). The King from before the foundation of the world (John 1); the One who upholds the Universe by the word of His power (Heb 1:3).

The stumbling block to the ‘wise’(1 Cor 1:23) and wisdom to the called, the wisdom of God, the bearnger of good news, the greatest news possible, the Shepherd of his sheep (John 10:11), the Keeper of the called (John 17), the Redeemer of the Church (Matt. 16:18-20).

This is the King we worship; the one we bow before, the one we, if called to, die for. This is Jesus: King of all possible kings past, present or future Prince of unimaginable peace, Servant to all whom he loves. Master, Ruler, Lord, Savior, Potentate, Majesty any and all of the descriptions of greatness, worth, beauty, excellence and glory must be given to Him.

We say he ‘wants’ or lives but we fall short in this statement. He does not merely ‘want’ our lives… He demands them. Don’t come half way with what he ‘wants’ understand the gravity of the situation and that he demands your life (that is not yours at all) from you. If you clam a stake in the inheritance he bought at the price of his life, then similarly own the demand of your life, the life he laid claim to at Calvary. The life he gave, and gives you.

Oh Christian breathe deeply the free air of the grace of God. You are free. Completely free to revel in the glory of God, free to chase this God that wooed you with himself to himself. Free to go, as Lewis says, “Further up and further in.” to who God is. Free to be passionately in love with Him. Free to move furniture to His glory. Free to work for His glory. Free to take a test to His glory.

So be enthralled with this God of Scripture. Being obsessed with this King of the World. Be head-over-heals in love with the Redeemer of your souls. Be transfixed by His unsurpassing beauty.

For the sake of his name he deferred his anger from you. Therefore you are free.

The Gravity of Understanding (Pt 5)

(Please read the previous posts, por favor)

“’This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.” (Vs. 9)

The people heard and understood the law because of the interpretation provided by the Priests and they were broken by it. The full gravity of what was read to them fell fully on them.

Do you know what I mean by ‘gravity’?

The weightiness of fully realizing your position; the brokenness brought about by the understanding; the pain of the issue being fully known to your heart; let me do my best to help you understand what I mean by using this word.

When there are no words. When there is no consolation for one is inconsolable. When a shoulder could not bear the weight of ones grief. When one’s suffering is indeed inconceivable to other na├»ve hearts, when the blackness of the veil across ones face is thick and wretched. When the falling of one’s heart is a thud in one’s diaphragm. When the lump in one’s throat chokes one’s breath away. And the simple idea of present suffering doesn’t comparing to anything but sickness.

This is what I mean by ‘gravity’. This is the best way I know how to develop the idea of the people morning and weeping at the hearing of the Law. To show you a picture of pain and say this is where the people of Israel were while the law was being read.

For Scripture is steel. It is hard, it is sharp, and it hurts. Indeed it is living and active.

I often think it makes sense to do our best to stay away from the Bible. Because it does hurt, and everything within our animal flesh says stay away from those things, which hurt you, do not willingly go into a situation that would bring you pain. We don’t go around grabbing hot irons or looking for a wreck to get into, but with Scripture you are looking to be reproved, to be rebuked, to be broken, to -- at times -- leave mourning and weeping.

This is how the people of Israel reacted to the Law, the felt it’s full gravity, they felt it break them, they felt the pain of the cold steel cutting them.

But Scripture is not simply cold steel; it is also soft and warm velvet. It is velvet steel, to use a Piper-ism. For the Bible brings encouragement and hope not simply reproof.

Inside it we find the freedom to run under its authority. Inside it we know ourselves as what we are, and we see the cure. Inside it we feel the welling of our hearts and the beauty of that which is all around. Inside it we see God, we feel God, we hear God, we touch God, we know God. This is truly a great thing! This not one of thousand other “great things,” this is the one, of those genuinely great things. That God has spoken to us in his word clearly and that we are now capable, by his grace of knowing him for who he really is! What more could we want? What else could inspire?

There is satisfaction and joy found in the understanding that comes from Scripture. In the knowledge of understanding your wretchedness and the peace in knowing God’s grace. In the fear of the Lord there is wisdom to be gleaned. In the brokenness there is wholeness. In the weakness there is strength. So look at the people’s response to the priest’s prodding away from sadness.

“And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing. Because they had understood the words that were declared to them.” (Vs. 12)

It is clear from the people’s response that they were joyous.

Again let me explain the word joy, as I understand it. Joy is not simply happiness, nor is it simply excitement. For in joy there is sadness and there is brokenness, happiness and sorrow. Joy is an idea held within the heart that transcends all aspects of life, from the devastating to the amazing. Happiness is fleeting and sadness will not last, but joy goes right through the heart of both of these feelings.

“And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing. Because they had understood the words declared to them.”

Do we understand the words declared to us and are we joyous because of it? Or do we simply ascent to the facts because a man with a microphone said them? These are questions, which must needs be answered. Is there truly faith in your heart or is there nothing more than a vain heart wanting to be seen as a good thing?

The Gravity of Understanding (Pt 4)

(Read the previous 3 posts prior to this'n)

“…Helped the people to understand the law… Clearly.” (Vs. 7-8)

Another meaning of the word clearly is “Paragraph by paragraph” or “with interpretation.” The priests took the time to help the people understand what the Law was saying. Giving interpretation where needed, pressing the people to do as it says. This is similar to the preaching you hear every Sunday. When Chad gets up here and expounds upon Scripture and its application to us as a church and to us as believers.

But this position of aiding in the development of another’s understanding of the Word is for all believers. We are all to be making disciples; all of us are under the same commandment to teach the Bible to others. This is the general application of this Scripture. Belief comes through hearing and hearing from the Word of God.

How are they, those who do not believe, or do not understand grace to ever understand it unless someone speaks? Jesus must be talked about, he must be our passion, he must be our only hope and therefore he must be the one thing that sets us ablaze with an enthusiasm, which is so uncommon. We must all be this. There is no reason to not be enthralled with Jesus; to speak with conviction about Jesus; if he has saved you, you will love him. If there is no love for Jesus there is no salvation in your heart.

This might feel harsh, and it should. We must work out our salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING, not apathy. We cannot let our salvation be something languid or mute, it is a constant thing, and if it is not changing your life then it is not in your heart. It is that simple. Transformation comes from change, and change so often in the Christian life comes from conviction, and conviction comes from fear of the Lord and the trembling of the soul in his presences and seeing his grace.

The specific application of this passage in the devotion to helping others understand the Scripture is the job of the pastorate. These are those who are set-aside for the singular purpose of devotion to the Word of God and their hunger and thirst for the study within its pages. They are leaders in the Word because they are followers of the Word.

A pastor and elder should be one whose desire to be in Scripture is near insatiable. Constantly pressing toward the high goal of gaining knowledge, both in experiential learning and in the wisdom provided by the reading of the Bible so as to lead those behind them in straight paths. This is the high calling of the priesthood and therefore is the same reason why they must, according to Hebrews 13:17 give an account for their leading of their followers.

Thus it is paramount that the pastor be characterized by Titus 1:9 to a perfect fit, that he, “hold fast to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” From last week we spoke of Leaders who lead. These are men who are set aside to their devotion of Scripture.

Here at the church we teach through books of the Bible specifically for this reason. That we be reproved by the constant, beautiful truth of Scripture as a whole body of believers. We work through the interpretations of the Bible and their applications toward us specifically so as to better grasp the wonder of God and thus be transformed. But you cannot let Sunday be your only time of feeding from the Word.

So don’t do it -- let Sunday be your only time of spiritual eating -- but let it be the time of testing your thoughts and intentions as fleshed out by the pastor. Testing your thoughts of Scripture against every Sunday’s interpretation of Scripture. Asking yourself the question, “Does what I think Scripture says line up with what the Pastor is preaching about? If it does, why? If it doesn’t, why not?” It’s not that Scripture is wrong, it’s that we are wrong. As sinners when there is an issue with the Bible it is because we are the ones to blame, not it.

Finding yourself asking the question, “why?” is not a bad thing, it is an integral part of being developed in your faith. Be as the Bereans testing all things against what the Bible says. Do not take the pastor at his title or the elder for his qualifications; rather take them for their adhesions to what the Bible says.

This is – indeed-- an elementary theme and many may be capable of making claims and teaching upon this but alas how few practice what the teach! We go about all day long with these notions of Scriptural authority floating about in our brains and they come sliding out our mouths but we do not hold them in our hearts. We do not feel the truth, which we pretend to believe about Scripture. At the end of the day we still are more inclined to fight against the Book by tossing it into a corner and letting it gather dust rather than letting it bear its full weight upon our lives. This will, if it is carried out indeed even in its smallest form it will, stifle the better inclinations of our souls, and bring us to many a sin. (The majority of this idea was taken from “The Life of God in the Soul of Man” by Henry Scougal.)

The Gravity of Understanding (Pt 3)

“And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” (Vs. 3)

The attentiveness they had to the public reading of Scripture should be astounding. All who could understand listened attentively, those who were young and those who were old, but still with understanding all listened attentively, children, teenagers, and all ages.

Tell me what would it be like if we-- all ages -- who could understand listened to the Word of God with full attention? If the middle schooler and high schooler cared more about what the Bible says as opposed to what their friends think; if the college student would see the truth of Scripture as more important than the professors red pen or the drunken party; if the middle-aged man would see the weight of Scripture as more important than his own selfish desires; if the mother would see the beauty of Scripture as more exquisite than her own precious children; if the grandparents where more worried about the next generations devotion God’s Word rather than fighting the constant change about them? How different would the church be?

What would building a church for the city look like if this one thing were different?

Granted not all are called to the same thing. There are different giftings and different talents distributed according to the will of God the Spirit, but to be Christian is to know God and to know God his word must be learned. To be Christian is to love God and to love God there must be weight put on his words. I have said it before and it is worthy of repeating, if you do not love the Word of God, then there is no love for the Speaker of those Words in your heart.

For you know the illustration well of a lover’s letter being important to the loved and so it is with this point that if we truly loved God we would truly be endured to his Word for the Lover has spoken and we the loved are inclined to the beauty of those words.

But this brings up the side point; Sunday cannot be the only day we learn from Scripture.

The day your Community Group meets cannot be the only other day besides Sunday within which you learn from the Bible. We are all called to be hearing from God on a consistent basis. And therefore it is important that we be consistently within the pages of the Good Book. Reflecting upon its words.

If this means getting up incredibly early to simply read a few lines then so be it. I know of those who regularly get up at 4am so as to spend an hour in the Bible before they begin their day. Likewise I know of those who forgo time with friends and family so that in the late night they can be for a time set in Scripture.

All of this to say do not be only in the Word once a week. You would not eat just once a week, you would not drink just once a week, and your physical body needs nutriment and strengthening giving by eating and drinking. Similarly why would you let your spiritual self, your true self, only eat once a week and drink once a week? Is this not masochistic? To torture your soul with starvation and dehydration, is this not insanity?

The Gravity of Understanding (Pt 2)

Part 1 may be read here.

To better understand this passage we must attempt at briefly knowing the reader of Law, namely Ezra. Also it would be beneficial to understand the time surrounding the reading of the Law

I. Who is Ezra and why is the first day of the seventh month important?

Ezra is the scribe of the Law sent and commissioned by Cyrus king of Persia to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. He returned to Jerusalem with a group of exiles in 458 B.C.; 13 years before Nehemiah returned to rebuild the wall. It is of an interesting note to me that the altar and the temple were rebuilt before the wall was. One might infer from this that it is the historical way of God to work from the inside out.

That he begins with the heart of the city, so to speak, and moves to the discipline of the outer wall only after the inner city has been changed. And so it is with a believer that their heart is first changed from death to life and then the self-disciplines of grateful obedience comes after and through time.

(But so as not to betray this point too much well continue with the background information and move to gleaning helpful information from the facts of Scripture after a canvas for the painting has been properly stretched.)

The date of the reading of the Law is of particular importance here.

The first day of the seventh month is The Festival of Trumpets, which is described in Leviticus 23:23-25, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, in the seventh month on the first day of the month you shall observe a day of solemn rest, memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present food offerings to the Lord.”

This solemn rest spoken is best seen in the rest afforded the soul in contemplation upon Scripture and the truths contained within its pages. This holy assembly which would begin the seventh month of the year, the month containing the Day of Atonement when the people of Israel had their sins placed on one goat which was sent to the wilderness, and the other was slaughtered for the remission of those sins.

It is important to see the reason for the Festival of Trumpets was to prepare the hearts of the people for the Day of Atonement. Thus here, in the reading of Law, the people will understand the necessity of this particular day, namely that importance of the innocent Lamb slain in their place.

It is thus reasonable to conclude that we as believers in the New Covenant ought to likewise strengthen our minds to be sharp for the proclamation of the Gospel -- which comes in every one of our services. To be praying and learning so as to be capable of wonderful application of the finished work of Jesus our Savior.

This simply means that we not only be in Scripture once a week, but rather constantly preparing our hearts to hear the good news of Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross. We as well should for the joy of hearing and believing this Gospel, which is ever present in our lives, be striving to better understand the Bible, which speaks about this Gospel.

We often say we want the Gospel to be our love, but we do not desire to study it. A biologist studies biology, because he loves it. An engineer studies math because he loves order. An artist studies art because it is her passion. And so it should be that a Christian studies Christ because He is our ONLY hope.

The Gravity of Understanding (Pt 1)

Yesterday I was able to preach at my church, Journey the Way. The text was Nehemiah 8:1-12 It was a blast, I love it (preaching & the church). Today I'll be posting the manuscript from the sermon. This will be done in bits and pieces so as to keep the readership up (long posts seem to kill people oddly enough). I hope and pray that you are able to glean from this what God desires you to learn. Enjoy!

Intro:

Imagine with me that feeling of understanding something for the first time. You know of what I speak, the feeling which causes a wonder to rise within your soul for you are now looking at an idea or an object, or hearing a tune or a song, or smelling an aroma as it ought to be seen, heard or smelled. Finally for the first time you understanding it as it really is.

Do you remember how things changed after that understanding? Do you remember the speechless, childlike wonder that you had in your spirit? The way you looked or heard or smelled things became so much more than just a sense that you’ve always had, indeed it became alive. For the desire to understand more and see more and hear more became more real than it ever had before. The faint ideas of the 5 senses started afresh in your brain causing you to want to gain that never before held knowledge of as many things as possible. Whether they are friend’s laughter or the breeze in the trees, the sound of the rain on the pavement, or the simple smell of coffee in the morning, these things came alive; indeed they became and are becoming worship.

It is true that as believers we see these good things as fodder used to stoke the flame in our hearts. This flame of beholding the glory of God, of being desirous to attempt at grasping just a little bit more of the vastness of God while we still live. Pressing our minds to grow and our hearts to include more than just ourselves.

But all the while knowing these things, these things that cause our minds to soar in worship to our God, are just a substitute for the Thing we really desire. Indeed C.S. Lewis says it well,

“These things-the beauty, the memory of our past-are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.

Here in this passage of Nehemiah we read of the people’s understanding of the Law, many of whom for the first time. Thus it is appropriate that you remember your own understandings, for when they first came you where not simply excited by them, but you were also saddened by the mere fact of having lived life for so long without this new-found understanding.

Therefore let us pray, read the text, and hope that the Lord of hosts teaches us through this text for his own glory which is in turn our good.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Steel Train: Worship

Last night I went to see a favorite band of mine: Steel Train. They rocked it, fantastically. Great vocals, fun vibe (especially when the rhythm guitar and the bass just up and switched instruments) of a group of guys playing music they love with friends they love for people they don’t know.

But of course something struck me as odd, not for the entire show mind you, but just for a moment. As I sat watching the band my eyes began to travel around the room, looking at the people. The young couple at the table behind me lost in conversation and each other’s eyes; the group of high school girls chaperoned by a set of parents; the group hanging out by the bar; the hoard near the stage. All of these people were here for a purpose, and it wasn’t a band, though that was a fun byproduct, they were here to be with friends.

Small realization, I know, but compound it with this: what would change if the reason we did things were for the overtly simple reason of the glory of God? Hanging out with friends would be richer. Listening to bands play they’re hearts out would be deeper. Those mundane tasks of life like laundry would become radical.

It’s true, we, I, don't have a healthy appreciation for the glory of God, which translates into not having any fear of God, which frankly means there can be no beginning of knowledge and wisdom. But something else is lost within the folds of unappreciation, lack of fear and foolishness, namely worship.

Worship in all things, worship through all things, worship with all things. Whatever preposition you’d like to use, we have lost our ability to worship because we do not bask in the glory of God. But if we did things might look like this:

Smelling the candle in the other room: Worship to the Maker
Hearing the echo of a hammer down the street: Worship to the Sustainer
Touching the faux suede footrest with my feet: Worship to the Redeemer
Tasting the complex flavor of coffee: Worship to the Healer
Seeing all of creation: Worship to God

"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God." 1 Cor. 10:31

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Father's Day Post for my Dad.

“By the grace of God I am who I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary I worked all the harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.” 1 Cor. 15:10-12

I am who I am by the sheer immense grace of God. It is the primary purpose of this post to relate to you one aspect of the mercy and grace of God in my life, namely that of my father, my dad, Pete Morris.

I am a believer because of his witness. Mind you not his drilling of biblical facts and verses into my head but by his living out the Gospel before my growing eyes. I have the desires I have because of his noble courage in life. I can read and speak because he worked to afford to spend the money to get me an education, not just schooling but tutors and speech therapists as well.

This is a post for father’s day. But this father of mine, is not just a father; he is a brother; he is a leader, indeed he is a kingly man.

By the grace of God I have the father I have. And his grace toward me was not in vain for my father worked all the harder than any of them, though it was not he, but the grace of God that was (is) with him. Whether then it was he or they, so he preached and so I believed.

Wisdom epitomized is my father. A man’s man is my father. One worthy of leading souls to the gates of heaven and kneeling before the throne of God saying, “Here are the souls you have entrusted to me,” this man is my dad. And what makes this post livelier is that he would want no recognition for his actions.

Therefore, because of my dad I can say with all the heart the half-dead sinner my posses, “By the grace of God I am who I am.”

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unparalleled Beauty

The moon in the night sky has always been a fascination to me. When I was a kid I remember riding in the car with my parents at night just staring at its beauty. I remember first seeing the man in the moon, being enthralled with the shimmering beauty of a creation that is unparalleled by the rest.

No other piece of all of creation shows its likeness. The stars are here in myriads, the trees have like kinds in folds, and the animals have their species. Books may be reproduced and woodwork has its same depiction.

The moon has no equal but perhaps the sun. But there is one thing that has no parallel, which has no depiction or reproduction. Scripture is on a plane of its own, under God, for he created it, but over creation for it is how we know him and thus our authority. the moon though gorgeous cannot compare to the exquisite beauty of Scripture. Yet I am more inclined to stop in the street and stare at the moon as opposed to look at Scripture in the same wonder or merriment.

I’m more apt to walk through the streets excitedly waiting for glimpses of the moon through the trees, to be caught off guard by it when it is unexpectedly big or eerie.

But doesn’t Scripture have that same beauty; is it not in fact more beautiful? To be sure it is. But, quite frankly, I often don’t see it as more lovely than the moon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sabbatical Calamity

I finished a journal today, the one that contains a majority of the notes from Edwards' treaties previously written about. There's always a since of nostalgia (I use that word reluctantly) when ending a journal. So many thoughts have been written, and in this case quite a bit as been learned. Hence, I would encourage you to journal your thoughts and watch the progress, or regress, made so as to 1) Learn about yourself, 2) Learn about God and 3) Learn more about yourself by learning more about who God is.

Here is the final entry:

"Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
'How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the LORD,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.'" Proverbs 1:20-33

Thus I pray the title, sabbatical calamity, now makes more since. That we take our leave from calamity for want of wisdom. Though the leave will not last forever, for we are prone to wander back to disaster, the fear of the Lord which he graciously places in our souls will steer us back to wisdom.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Waiting

This week has been a rather eventful and interesting week. I had many delightful conversations with old friends, medium friends, and people (who I would now consider friends) whom I literally just met moments before delving into meaningful chatter. But there was one concept, which has been prevailing, which through relay was yet again brought to my attention, the simple yet profound theme of waiting.

We live busy lives, ones within which we scurry from thing to thing and place to place leaving no time for conviction or resolution, no time for growth or maturation. Wanting to be cuddled by the business of our schedules and our egos stroked by the feeling of being needed. But we have not learned to wait.

Imagine sitting in a room with an old vinyl album spinning in the background, a gentile breeze billowing the curtains while you read a beloved book sipping on tea. The sun is just waning gleaming in through the window causing the whole room to dance with the breeze as the tree limbs sway and the songs of birds intertwine with the music in the background. This is the image in my mind when I think of waiting.

When the hustle and bustle of life is slowed to a stop as you wait. But societally we are not wonderful waiters. We want our goodies and we want them now.

But there are some things, some ideas, some studies, which require all your heart and mind which must not be waylaid by the pursuit of a love or the trappings of life, some things which demand all your attention because they directly concern your love for God. These things become paramount in the life of the believer, because a better view of God is what they are being called to.

For it is a calling of, “Further up and further in.” (C.S. Lewis) which we are called, and thus must never be mistaken for the call of constant and steady and most certainly never the call of waning and stopping. Further up and further in to the God who has called us, who judges us, who loves us, who is indeed our King. This is the beauty of putting things on hold and waiting to take them up again.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Lost Somethings

We’ve lost something. Once we stood in awe of our father’s immeasurable strength. Once our fingers wrapped around only one of our parent’s fingers. Once we had nothing to regret and there was always a bigger bed to run to when the monsters in the closet were too scary to handle alone. Simplicity was our theme and our hearts were whole.

There was an innocence that defined us, that caused our imaginations to sore higher than the clouds and further than Pluto. When catching fireflies on a summer’s night was more fascinating than all the passions we now possess. When our lunches were packed in brown paper bags and we always hoped we had something yummy to trade. When lying in the grass staring at the clouds was better than TV.

But we’ve lost something. Things have changed.

Now we stand in awe of nothing. Now our fingers no longer hold anything but our pride. Now we have massive regrets and we must face our monsters on our own. Now complexity is our theme and our hearts are shattered.

The innocence that once was our definition is only a distant memory we’ll never be able to return to.

But these things we've lost will not be forgotten nor will they be left in the wilderness. Things will be made new and we'll see our Savior's face.

So whether you’re 21 or 79 you’re still growing up and by the sheer grace of God we are told, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old is gone the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17)”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The end of The END

I finished reading Jonathan Edwards' "The End for Which God Created the World" yesterday and I finished my note taking on it today. This was a six month process. I tell you the time frame not to inspire awe in the slowness of my reading, but to, with feeling, tell you there is much to be gleaned from this work.

Edwards in a very systematic approach biblically answers the age old question of, "What is the purpose of life?" Though this is not the question I desired answered. The question I began with back in December was, "What is my calling?" or more frankly, "Am I called to ministry?" And in more ways than one was my question answered.

For through the beginning of the book as Edwards reasonably shows the logic behind God's end in his creating, it is evident the same call is placed on all who believe. However it did not stop there. He continued on to discuss the matter in terms of what Scripture says, answering every nuance of the argument according to what the Bible says. The discourse being replete with Scripture pointing to this one beautiful end.

"From what has been observed in the last section, it appears, if the whole of what is said relating to this affair be duly weighed, and one part compared with another, we shall have reason to think that the design of the Spirit of God is not to represent God's ultimate end as manifold but as ONE... For it appears, that all that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God's works, is included in that one phrase, the glory of God; which is the name by which the ultimate end of God's words is most commonly called in Scripture; and seems most aptly to signify the thing."

May this be an encouragement to read Theology. Not to read to get a book under your belt, but to read to learn, to answer questions, to grow. To take notes over a treaties and see your heart swell and be moved to new different heights. Leaving the vacuous behind so as to be matured in life and faith. To see God for who he is as revealed in Scripture and see yourself for who you are in comparison. To refund the glory which is emanated from God which indeed is the end for which he created the world.