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Thursday, August 21, 2014

My prayer

Lord save me from
ideas i have no outlet for
outlets i have no ideas for
and this most of all,
ideas with outlets i have no time for.
In Jesus' name,

Monday, August 18, 2014

What things? What good?

Finish the verse:

"And we know all things work together for good for                       ..."  Romans 8:28

What'd you come up with?  It's one of our favorite verses in the Bible.  We'll pluck that baby right out and apply it to all kinds of situations.  Anytime we see stuff going wrong in anybody's life you can bet some well meaning well-wisher will trot this panacea out.

To paraphrase the great theologian Inigo Montoya, "You keep on using that [phrase], i do not think it means what you think it means."

Here's the verse in the Lexham translation:

"And we know all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose,"

So that's cool, who doesn't love God, right?  We're all called for some purpose, so sure, it's a panacea for every little inconvenience along the way, right?

You know me better than that by now.  Here's the thing.  Paul didn't right verses.  He wrote letters.  Those letters had a theme, the themes were broken into paragraphs and sentences.  And with Paul, that means run-on sentences which would give a grammarian a conniption and an aneurism and a stroke all at the same moment in time or all at once as some people say or as other people say, she would die, why i assume the grammarian is a woman, i don't know, i guess i just do that cuz most of the grammarians i've met were women.

The point is, you do yourself and the text a great disservice by lifting it out of context.  You lose the meaning.  The whole sentence is this:

"And we know all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed into the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brothers."  

So the all things that Paul speaks of are not clearly defined by this sentence but they are by the paragraphs preceding it.  "For I consider that the sufferings of the present time..." Paul had been talking about the groaning of the present age and the hopes we have for the future and firstfruits of the Spirit.  All things can mean "All Things" but in the context, they mean especially our sufferings.  And the "good" he speaks of, what is that?  Well, it's right there, "his purpose".  What is his purpose?  To conform us into the image of his Son so that he will be the firstborn among many brothers.  He's making little Christs.  What is the image of his son?  To Love God as Jesus did.  To obey him even unto death.  To lay down your life for your friends.  To love your enemies.  To pray for those who persecute you.  To forgive as often as they ask for repentance.  To bear no grudge.  To love your neighbor as yourself or as Philippians concisely puts it, Jesus, "who, existing in the form of God, did not consider being equal with God something to be [held onto], but emptied himself by taking the form of a slave, by becoming in the likeness of people.  And being found in appearance like a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, that is, death on a cross."

Or as Isaiah, another man not afraid of grammarians, puts it, "He had no form and no majesty that we should see him, and no appearance that we should take pleasure in him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering, and acquainted with sickness, and like one from whom others hide their faces, he was despised, and we did not hold him in high regard.  However he was the one who lifted up our sicknesses, and he carried our pain, yet we ourselves assumed him stricken, struck down y God and afflicted.  But he was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and y his wounds we were healed.  All of us have wandered about like sheep; we each have turned to his own way; and Yahweh let fall on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was brought like a lamb to the slaughter, and like a sheep is dumb before its shearers, so he did not open his mouth.  He was taken by restraint of justice, and who concerned himself with his generation?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; he received a blow because of the transgression of my people.  He made his grave with the wicked, and the rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.  Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush him, he made him sick.  If he places his life a guilt offering, he will see offspring.  He will prolong days, and the will of Yahweh will succeed in his hand.  From the trouble of his life he will see; he will be satisfied.  In his knowledge, the righteous one, my servant, shall declare many righteous and he is the one who will bear their iniquities.  Therefore, I will divide to him a portion among the many, and with the strong ones he will divide the bounty, because he poured his life out to death and was counted with the transgressors; and he was the one who bore the sin of many and will intercede for the transgressors."

So there you have it, both the "All Things" which have happened and must happen and the "Good" for which they are working.  Amen.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Someday and Meanwhile

i'm reading Jeremiah lately.  i don't think that's good for me.  It plays to my fears.  i don't see myself as a prophet but i do see myself in a dying culture.  i see a decline all around and i know my own suffering. i see a world on a collision course with the consequences of its sin and i see my warnings fall on deaf ears.  i fear and know Yahweh my God.  i love and trust his salvation through his Son Jesus the Christ. The problem i have is one of time.

Promises and hope are Somedays.  Some bright morning, when this life is over...i'll fly away.  There was a reason for the slave spirituals.  Their hope was not in the day to day.  It was in the Someday.  We will overcome.  In the End, our God has triumphed.  Someday my prince will come.  It's true.  We can bank on it.  God has made his promises and he's given his signs and they are solid, they are bank, they are true.  Sit secure in them.  

But the alarm clock rang this morning, not the final trumpet.  This is Meanwhile, not Someday.  Meanwhile is just that.  Mean.  Low.  Unfair.  Meanwhile is addiction, sin, persecution, labor, thorns, sieges and wicked men doing wicked things.  Someday God will call all debts due and they will either be stamped "Paid-In-Full" by Jesus or ...they won't.  But Meanwhile, we live in poverty, in want, in need and in debt.  Someday every tear will be wiped away.  Meanwhile tears are our food every night.  Someday death will be swallowed up in Victory.  Meanwhile we die and bury loved ones.  Someday we will rise to no more pain, no more sorrow, no more conflict.  Meanwhile we struggle and give up and try again and faint and the alarm goes off in the morning...

Life is lived in the Meanwhile.  Life is lived for the Someday.  Most of the secular world's hopes are just attempts to make Someday today.  Lotteries, vacations, better homes, better jobs, better hobbies, better governments are all man-made attempts at recreating Eden.  And i'm not saying don't do these things, except for the lottery, that's just a tax on the math challenged.  i'm with Yahweh when he says, "‘Build houses and live in them, and plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and father sons and daughters, and take for your sons wives, and give your daughters to men that they may bear sons and daughters, and multiply there, and you must not be few. And seek the prosperity of the city where I have deported you, and pray on behalf of it to Yahweh, for in its prosperity you will have prosperity.’" Jerry 29  i'm with Mr. Greg Forster when he says we need to be in the culture.   What i'm saying is, you got to know your limitations, you got to know the times in which you live and therefore, you got to know your God!  His name is Yahweh and He has Someday in mind.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Something to ponder

"Nevertheless listen please to this word that I am speaking in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people, The prophets who were before me and before you from ancient times prophesied against many countries and against great kingdoms of war, and of disaster, and of plague. The prophet who prophesies peace, at the coming of the word of the prophet, will become known as the prophet that Yahweh has truly sent.”" Jeremiah 28