A strange inverse relationship

Sometimes I wonder if there is some inverse relationship between the availability/accessibility of the Scriptures and how precious they are to us.

Here’s a video of the Kimyal Tribe in West Papua, Indonesia getting the entire NT. One of their pastors said now that they have the entire NT, thier hearts are “no longer heavy. They are light!” When was the last time your heart was light over the availability of God’s word? As the plane lands, everyone is singing praises to God. When was the last time you sang praises to God because of the Scriptures?

Here’s thier pastor’s prayer (translated) when the Bibles were placed in his hands:

“O, God. O, God. The plan which you had from the beginning, regarding your Kimyals, which already existed in your Spirit, the month that you had set, the day that you had set, has come to pass today. O my Father, my Father, the promise that you gave Simeon that he would see Jesus Christ and hold him in his arms before he died; I have also been waiting under that same promise, O God. You looked at all the differentn languages in the world, and you choose which ones would be put into your Word, you thought that we should see your Word in our language. Today, the day you had chosen for this to be fulfilled, has come to pass. O God, today you have placed your Word into my hands, just like you promised. You have placed it here in our land. And for all this, O God, I give you praise.”

And in tears they accepted God’s Word into thier hands. When’s the last time your picked up your Bible in tears that you can even have one to pick up?

Let us rejoice in God’s Word in any language, in new languages, in our language, in our hands, on our electronic devices. Let it saturate our lives, yet never lose the wonder that the Creator God has spoken, that he is sovereign, and that he has chosen to loves us.

Freedom to Say Life is Hard

I saw this article bouncing around Facebook the other day, Don’t Carpe Diem. The author was writing about experiences she has had when older ladies have stopped her and her small children in stores and said,  “Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by so fast.”

The author comments,

“Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy everysecond, etc, etc, etc.

I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life – while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.”

This article seemed to resonate with lots of young moms who found in this article the freedom to say that they “don’t carpe diem”, the freedom to say life is hard. It resonated with me as well. She captures grace and expresses it in real world terms.

I wonder, do we give people this freedom in the church, or do people feel the pressure to have it together all the time? Do people feel like they are doing something wrong if they don’t  live up to the qualifications we have set for being a “good” Christian? What does it say about the gospel if people don’t have this freedom?

Brilliantly Hopeless

A few weeks ago, Christopher Hitchens, one of the most influential atheists of our day, died of cancer. In 2010, he did an interview, where he discussed how he was processing life and death, in the midst of his cancer. Below is an excerpt.

“One of my occasionally silly thoughts is: I wish I was suffering in a good cause — a cause larger than myself. Or, larger than just the mere survival,” he says. “If you’re in pain and being tortured, and you felt it was helping the liberation of humanity, then you can bear it better, I think. I just feel this is partly random, and partly the sort of cancer that gets people like me at about this age. It’s a part of life. It’s a dress rehearsal for an important episode of life, which is how you wind it up and how you agree to face that — which is something you’re aware of even when you’re in apparently good health.”

On Beliefs

In his writings about his diagnosis, Hitchens has asserted: “To the dumb question, why me? The cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: ‘Why not.’ ” Hitchens concedes that the dumb question “is bound to occur” — but not for long. He says he decided on his beliefs a long time ago, well before he became ill.

“I’m here as a product of process of evolution, which doesn’t make very many exceptions. And which rates life relatively cheaply,” he says. “I mean, most human beings who’ve ever been born would have been dead long before they reached my age. And I would think in most of the rest of the world — well, I know it — is still true. So to be relatively healthy at 62 is to be dealt a pretty good hand by the cosmos, which doesn’t know I’m here — and won’t notice when I’m gone. So that seemed the only properly stoic attitude to take.”

Oh, Mr. Hitchens, how I wish you looked to the personal Triune God and not the impersonal cosmos. How I wish you knew that there was One who’s suffering accomplished much for others, and invites us to participate in a mission much greater than ourselves. How I wish you knew the hope that is found in Jesus. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)

How would you respond to Christopher Hitchens, or others with beliefs like his?

 

Loving God and Animals

Reports came out a week or so ago that McDonald’s and Target were dropping their egg suppliers due to instances of mistreatment and cruelty towards chickens, by workers in some of those chicken plants. Are these companies dropping these suppliers due to their convictions that animals are to be treated with dignity? I don’t know it could be more of a PR move due to pressure by an animal rights group. Reports of animal cruelty come up rather frequently. It seems that those who are speaking up and pushing for animal rights are groups like PETA, the Humane Society, or other groups some might call “environmentalist radicals”. Where is the Christian voice in the midst of all of this? Maybe I’m not hearing it, or its not being reported. Maybe it is that we are just silent. Maybe we think we should be investing our time in more important things like “saving souls”. What does our general silence communicate? What does it say about God, and His character, His heart? Could our silence actually be anti-evangelism?

Genesis 1 and 2 tells us that God made man in His image, to reflect and represent His good rule and tender care on this earth, to demonstrate His glory. This involved caring for humanity and the other creatures and creation (Gen 1:26-28 Gen 2:15). Our sin distorted this responsibility and creation suffered (Gen 3:17-19 Gen 7:17-24 Rom 8:18-25).

But we see in Scripture that God cares for humans as well as animals. God saved not only Noah and his family but also many animals. The Noahic covenant in Gen 9:8-17 was made with Noah and his offspring as well as the animals (there are at least 4 specific references to animals in this passage). (Also see Exodus 20:8-11, 23:12 Deut. 22:4 Deut 25:4 Jonah 4:11)

If God created all things for His glory and He cares for them and has entrusted humanity to do the same, should not Christians as “renewed humanity” be visibly active in the world fulfilling part of our purpose and reflecting our Creator? Has God in His grace not restored this privilege to us? Are we neglecting this part of our calling? Do some non-believers image God more clearly in this area than Christians do?  Isn’t the good news that in Christ, God is restoring all of creation to its original purpose (Col. 1:19-20) ? Is it not our privilege as citizens of the Kingdom to live this out now? Every square inch of creation is His.

What does this look like for us? Is there more to being a Christian business than being members of a Christian association, or playing Christian music on the speakers, or closing on Sundays? Should it matter to us how animals are cared for before they end up on our plate? Can we more incorporate the Biblical worldview into our practice? How would our home life change as a result of embracing this calling? What impact would these changes have in our evangelism and engaging the world? What do you think are some reasons we fail to live this out?

For more on this see this free and somewhat brief article by Michael Williams, “The Chief End of Animals”. And for a longer and more expensive look, see Imaging God: Dominon as Stewardship by Douglas John Hall.

Where a Man Belongs

A quote from John Piper in response to a cigarette billboard with the slogan, Where a Man Belongs:

“To hell with such lies! Where a man belongs is on his knees beside his wife, leading in prayer. Where a man belongs is at the bedside of his children, leading in devotion and prayer. Where a man belongs is in the driver’s seat, leading his family to the house of God. Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God, seeking vision and direction for the family. Men, I challenge you in the name of Jesus Christ our King, be where you belong!”

Application & Theology

It was once said of Jonathan Edwards, “His doctrine is all application, and his application is all doctrine.”

How often do you see the two separated?  As Christians the study of Scripture and its true meaning drive us to proper change/application.  Don’t let your application be driven by a snazzy poem as a friend stated this morning without it being placing through the filter of Scripture first.

Edwards also said, “the trade of a Christian is theology, and it is important for every Christian to know his business.”

Do you know your business?

Psalm 34 and Pascal

This morning at church we listened to God’s word preached from Psalm 34.   During the scripture reading I looked down and read the note that I had written in my Bible at Psalm 34:8.  I do not have  alot of notes and underlining in my Bible but this one is of significance.  Psalm 34:8 reads

8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

The note is from Pascal’s Pensées, #666.  It states, “Sinners lick the earth, that is to say, love earthly pleasures.”

My question to you and myself is are we tasting to see that the Lord is good and finding joy in Him or are we licking the earth for earthly pleasures and comfort in them?

Listen to this mornings message, Taste and See that the Lord is Good – Psalm 34.

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