So, I lost the "blog every day" bug (yeah, it happens every February, but this year I want it back  ;-)

This is going to be sort of "stream of consciousness" sort of post, but this is something I want to articulate and I'm not sure how to do it.

I read in one place that the writer would never be able to read Hebrews 11 without seeing orange jumpsuits...

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth...

 

of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

And in the midst of this, I read in other places that "Coptic 'Christians' are not saved, since they don't get the nature of Christ right."

The Coptic church is the one that the apostle Mark founded when they was sent out to evangelize the world - it's not like they made up their own religion.

The split happened later on, when Arius was preaching his heresy.  Arius taught that Jesus was not God.  Jesus (Arius taught) was a created being, and thus, he denied the Trinity.

There was a big church council, and Arius was declared a heretic.  Here's where I'm a little fuzzy, but I think I have the basics.

All of the "streams" - Alexandria (Coptic) and Constantinople (Orthodox) and Rome (well...Rome) agreed that Arius was wrong.  They all affirm the Divinity of Christ, they all affirm the doctrine of the Trinity.  They all affirm salvation by faith.  They all affirm the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin.

If a person is going to judge the salvation of Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, Arminians, and pretty much everybody other than the "truly Reformed" because of the works debate, I cannot go there.

Even if I don't understand the role of works, is it Jesus Christ who saves me through faith?

Do I hold Christ through my faith, or does He hold me?

How right does my doctrine need to be before Romans 10 is found to be valid?

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Is it "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead *AND you get the hypostatic union right...you will be saved?"

Is it "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead *AND you get the relationship between works and faith right you will be saved?

 

Is it "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead *AND you get TULIP right, you will be saved?

Is it "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead *AND** you can quote from the Catechisms and Confessions, you will be saved?

How big is your asterisk?

 

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layersThere was something about THIS rock that caught my eye.

the layer that separates the flat layers from the tilted layers, the pebbles in the water...

This was taken in Utah on our honeymoon, walking through a "slot canyon" - the swooping of the canyon walls.  I don't make a secret that I lean "old earth creationist" - but no matter the age of the earth I am sure of this.

God is everlasting.  God created.

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Okay, at the beginning of yesterday's sermon, the pastor showed a PowerPoint slide of a yogurt foil label.

I took that visual in a different direction than I think the pastor intended.

Stirrers, skimmers, diggers...We have all of these types in the Christian body.

STIR,

Those who stir, those who skim, and those who dig.  The beauty is that each of us shows all of these tendencies at some point or another.

When you hear "stir" - what do you think of?  Is it the negative "stir up bottom muck?"

Or do you think positive?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)

As believers, do we stir up one another to look more like Christ?  How does this work?  For me, getting into the fringes of something, then finding another person, taking that "something" and running with it...with that other person, pulling more and more people into this "something."

Or simply encouraging another into a deeper walk.

Or

STIR,

I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, (1 Peter 1:13)

what was Peter "stirring?"  The list begins... faith, virtue, knowledge.

I see (rightly or wrongly) a lot of anti-intellectualism in a lot of people.  "Knowledge" is third on Peter's list and knowledge is what leads to self-control,  steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love.

They're in this order for a reason, and each acts a foundation for the next.

How do we stir our spiritual siblings to greater faith, virtue, knowledge?

Then...

SKIM

Merriam-Websters has one definition:

to look over or read (something) quickly especially to find the main ideas

Yeah, okay.  That works.   Why would a Christian "skim?"

We may skim a chapter of Scripture, then settle on the "main idea" and go for a deeper study of that idea that the Holy Spirit is laying on our heart and mind.

We may skim the church bulletin and rest our eyes on something that intrigues us.

We may skim community groups until we find one that we really click with.

Somebody may ask a question and we skim material looking for information.

These can show good fruit.  I know a little bit about a lot of different things.  Enough so that if somebody asks me a question, I can point them to good resources.  A lot of these things I have not dug into deeply.

I pass over a lot of ministry opportunities that are not in my range of interest...

Waiting to find the right place is good.

but...you if you stay in that "skim" place, or if ALL of your places are skim place, that shows a shallowness that does not show good fruit.

You have to

DIG

I can skim Philippians, then land on "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,"

What does the Bible say about persecution?  Start digging...

I can skim the church bulletin, then land on one opportunity that screams at me...start digging.

But we don't exist in a vacuum.  Help others dig!

So, in some things, I'm a skimmer, others places a digger.  In still other places, I can stir up others to do their own skimming and digging.

And...that's where I took that PowerPoint slide...

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Wow, a month into 2015 already!   I've got a few links this week, so...

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"From bombings to bubblehead income: The diversity of persecution in new testament perspective"

According to the New Testament, persecution occurs in various forms — from beatings (Acts 5:40), stonings (Acts 7), and imprisonment (Acts 16) to insults (Matthew 5:11), slander (Acts 14:2), and lies (Luke 26:59). The New Testament does not define persecution by the kind of action taken against Christians. Rather, the New Testament defines persecution by the nature of the hostility. Simply put, the New Testament labels any hostile action against Christ or his righteousness a form of persecution.

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I follow a ministry called "Trash Mountain" - and they're starting an aquaponics project!  (I have a mini aquaponics set on my desk, where I grow peace lilies and green onions, and where the "four horsemen of the aquapocalypse" live.)

“Teaching people how to provide food for their community is sustainable poverty alleviation,” Gibson said. “It brings dignity and hope to the community. To modify an old adage, if you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day, but if you teach him to run aquaponics, he can feed his entire community.”

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LGBT groups says "No compromise."

This "compromise" is a poison pill that the LGBT civil rights movement must never accept. We can never allow "because Jesus" to become a legally protected excuse to discriminate against LGBT folks in the public square.

Liberty for me, but not for thee...AKA "you will celebrate the gay."

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"Save the Earth, Don't Give Birth"

just...ewww.

 

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layers

I've read on this for a while (years) and I remain a creationist.  I believe that God created - not evolved.  I don't think that God-directed evolution is correct.  God created.

I'm just not sure that the "day" of Genesis 1 represents a literal 24-hour period.

Then Justin Taylor wrote "Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods"

One of his points I've heard before.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Okay...are we reading a prelude, a heading title, or a summary of what follows?

Taylor writes:

Genesis 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is not a title or a summary of the narrative that follows. Rather, it is a background statement that describes how the universe came to be.

In other words.

At some point in the past, God created the universe.

Then (starting in Genesis 1:2) He formed our planet into our place.

At some point, the universe came into existence, then some time later,

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3)

In this case, even the six days of creation took place inside of a larger history.

 

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We visited The Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo  on Saturday.  The lasting and plain beauty of the exterior spoke of the quest for beauty in a difficult place.   Inside, the Roman Catholic eye for transcendence shone all around, yet the building reflected the area it sits in.

IMG_2752

Rough textured walls, meeting fine painting and sculptures.

Modern playground equipment adjoining tile patios.

Last year's monument overlooking last century's garden.

Phil and I walked on through the hall, looking at over two centuries of vestments that priests have worn here.

We saw a place of beauty, steeped in tradition, salted with education, but also with the bitterness of a history that we sometimes wish never happened.

 

IMG_2755 We also saw the oldest library in California.

Imagine the care it would have taken to get these books to this remote place!

To me, this seems to say that reading, education, knowledge, learning, played an important role here.

 

Even now, the mission has a school on the grounds.

I believe that Rome has a lot of things wrong. But they worship God with majesty and a seriousness that we have lost.

We reject liturgy, we reject tradition, we reject transcendence.

My soul longs for a serious, adult, deep and wide worship that lifts my heart and my hands to the sky.

Just sayin'

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"Just Getting a Drink"

Beyond the basic rules of the game, the blue shirts had only two requirements. The first was that they needed to be allowed to ref the game as well as play it, and the second requirement was that if anybody on the red team questioned any call, it was an automatic technical, and they had to go sit on the racist bench, or on the misogynist bench, depending on which eyebrow they had raised in protest.

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"The Heresy of Worshiptainment"

(this is wonderful!)

HALLOWEDNESS, NOT SHALLOWNESS

Like Tozer, we should be concerned that so many people in our churches want to be entertained while they worship. We should be concerned when we no longer recognize the difference between the two. And we should be concerned by the growing belief that adding more entertainment value to worship is necessary for the church to accomplish its mission.

I may stand alone, but it grieves me when I see worship services characterized more by props, performances, and pep rally atmospheres than by any sense of divine sacredness; and hallowedness giving way to shallowness.

This is not about worship styles. The issue is not traditional versus contemporary versus blended worship. It’s not about organ versus worship band. That discussion misses the point completely. This is about the heart and focus and intent of worship. The real issues, for me, are these:

~~~

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My heart overflows with a pleasing theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
You are the most handsome of the sons of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
in your splendor and majesty!
In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
let your right hand teach you awesome deeds!
Your arrows are sharp
in the heart of the king's enemies;
the peoples fall under you.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father's house,
and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.
All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold.
In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
with her virgin companions following behind her.
With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.
In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.

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On thinking that God only has one begotten son – the rest of us are children by adoption – and that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers…This is pretty long, and it’s worth the read.

Our church is doing "Adoption month."  Yes, an entire month on the topic of adoption - and I had the following story a few months ago...it's great.

 PROOF” by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones - is a reworking of TULIP - I like the book.

“Because I’m Yours”

I never dreamed that taking a child to Disney World could be so difficult – or that such a trip could teach me so much about God’s outrageous grace.


Our middle daughter had been previously adopted by another family.  I [Timothy] am sure this couple had the best of intentions, but they never quite integrated the adopted child into their family of biological children.  After a couple of rough years, they dissolved the adoption and we ended up welcoming an eight-year-old daughter into our home.

For one reason or another, whenever our daughter’s previous family vacationed at Disney World, they took their biological children with them, but they left their adopted daughter behind with a family friend. Usually – at least in the child’s mind, this happened because she did something wrong that precluded her presence on the trip.

And so, by the time we adopted our daughter, she had seen many pictures of Disney World and she had heard about the rides and the characters and the parades.  But when it came to passing through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, she had always been the one left on the outside.  Once I found out about this history, I made plans to take her to Disney World the next time a speaking engagement took our family to the south-eastern United States.

I thought I had mastered the Disney World drill.  I knew from previous experiences that the prospect of seeing cast members in freakishly oversized mouse and duck costumes somehow turns children into squirming bundles of emotional insecurity.  What I didn’t expect was that the prospect of visiting this dreamworld would produce a stream of downright devilish behavior in our newest daughter.  In the month leading up to our trip to the Magic Kingdom, she stole food when a simple request would have gained her  a snack.  She lied when it would have been easier to tell the truth. She whispered insults that were carefully crafted to hurt her older sister as deeply as possible — and as the days on the calendar moved closer to the trip, her mutinies multiplied.

A couple of days before our family headed to Florida, I pulled our daughter into my lap to talk about her latest escapade. :I know what you’re going to do," she stated flatly.  “You’re not going to take me to Disney World, are you?”  The thought actually hadn’t crossed my mind, but her downward spiral suddenly started to make some sense.  She knew she couldn’t earn her way into the Magic Kingdom — she had tried and failed that test several times before — so she was living in a way that placed her as far as possible from the most magical place on earth.

In retrospect, I’m embarrassed to admit that, in that moment, I was tempted to turn her fear to my own advantage.  The easiest response would have been “If you don’t start behaving better, you’re right, we won’t take you”  But by God’s grace, I didn’t.  Instead I asked her, “Is this trip something we’re doing as a family?”

She nodded, brown eyes wide and tear-rimmed.

“Are you part of this family?”

She nodded again.

“Then you’re going with us.  Sure, there may be some consequences to help you remember what’s right and what’s wrong — but you’re part of our family and we’re not leaving you behind.

I’d like to say that her behaviors grew better after that moment.  They didn’t.  Her choices pretty much spiraled out of control at every hotel and every rest stop all the way to Lake Buena Vista.  Still, we headed to Disney World on the day we promised, and it was a typical Disney day.  Overpriced tickets, overpriced meals, and lots of lines, mingled with just enough manufactured magic to consider maybe going again someday.

In our hotel room that evening, a very different child emerged.  She was exhausted, pensive, and a little weepy at times, but her month-long facade of rebellion had faded.  When bedtime rolled around, I prayed with her, held her, and asked, “So, how was your first day at Disney World?”

She closed her eyes and snuggled down into her stuffed unicorn.  After a few moments, she opened her eyes every so slightly.  “Daddy,” she said, “I finally got to go to Disney World.  But it wasn’t because I was good.  It’s because I’m yours.”

It wasn’t because I was good…it’s because I’m yours.

That’s the message of outrageous grace.

Outrageous grace isn’t a favor your can achieve by being good; it’s the gift your receive by being God’s.

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