Why Eat Candy?

Why eat sweets? Why not just eat sugar straight up?

Primary & Secondary Aberrations:

1) Apologetics: Only God the Holy Spirit can convert. Therefore evidences do not matter.
2) Medicine: I don’t go to doctors or take any medicine. God will heal me directly.
3)

 

The Guitarist (2)

In my previous post I mentioned someone I once knew who was an amazing guitarist and who was having trouble finding steady work and income via guitar playing. His lack of an income led to problems at home with his wife because they were not financially solvent. His wife urged him to seek other forms of employment so that bread could be put on the table, however he would not because, playing the guitar was his calling in life. God had given him this gift and this was what he was supposed to be doing.  How could he turn back on God’s call? The marriage ultimately folded.

Some Comments On This – A Sketch.
1. How does one determine what God’s call is? It seems to me that in the ruggedly individualistic West, one often looks inward in order to determine such. So we look at our gifts for example. Then from here we proceed to calling and in turn to professional work. In the more social and relational East however, one often looks outwards. They look out into society and ask what the needs are.  So to put it bluntly, in the East, people look outwards, see starvation and then decide that whatever they do in life, work-wise, it had better put bread on the table or else they will starve.  There are no psychological emotional struggles and such. You either work or you starve.
 ~
2. A gift is not synonymous with a call. A gift can operate on a local level or a global level.  When a gift operates on a local level, such as playing the guitar at church or at home for fun as a hobby, it serves a different purpose than to earn income. When a gift operates on a global level, then it could really be what you do to make money as in when you give a string of guitar concerts before very many people. Whatever it is, just because you have a gift does not automatically mean it is a call. You could just sit at home and play the guitar to unwind from a stressful day.
~

3. While we all have gifts that need to be nurtured, they can never develop into calls such that they conflict with what I call default calls. What do I mean by default calls. One, our primary call is to be Jesus’ disciple. If our gift/calling becomes an idol, we have a serious problem. Another default call is that we are all by nature called to be a father or a mother or son or sister or a husband or wife, etc. You cannot renege your responsibilities, i.e. your calling to be a father on account of your “calling” to be a guitar player! Honestly, this is irresponsible.

 

Mandora by Georges Braque (1882-1963)

David Foster Wallace Quote ~ Books & Culture

The following is David Foster Wallace quote that I am excerpting from an article, “Everybody Worships” by Alissa Wilkinson. Wilkinson is Christianity Today’s chief film critic and assistant professor of English and humanities at The King’s College in New York City.

“Here’s something else that’s weird but true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” ~ DFW

 

David Foster Wallace

 

 

 

The Guitarist (1)

The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso

The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso

~ The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to a friend:
\\~~>
I remembered a friend of mine from a long time ago who was a trained guitarist. This guy was having trouble finding steady work and income via guitar playing. I mean he played solo at times and was a part of some bands but that did not cut it. There was just no bread being put on the table.
~
Howevvvvs . . .  He would not look for any other type of work. He only was looking for more guitar gigs.  His wife was very frustrated.  However… he had to stick to his God given calling!  “This is my calling! God has gifted me with musical ability. This is what I am supposed to be doing in life!” Yet, as they sunk into a deeper and deeper financial hole, the tension, anger, fighting, etc., increased and a divorce ultimately resulted.
 <~~//
Now ~~~> That all said: What is wrong with this picture?

Tentative … cb2 l8r

We compare ourselves with something higher with the hopes of ascending, rather than descending.

Some ppl – so entrenched in negativism compare themselves only with view to stating what they don’t have. Others of a more noble mindset compare to ascend. It is about what God can do.

If it is not of faith it is sin… transitions… cb2

~ ~ ~

Story telling is our default setting. We all want to tell stories.  We are wired to tell them.

You ask a question: “How did you two meet?”

Nobody want to say “We met randomly at a bar one night. He was drunk. We had to take him home.”

Anyway… when stories take on a providential character, thats when they become good.

Revivals and Job Interviews…

Revivals are like job interviews. For a job interview, you do everything you can to prep and primp for the position. You research the company, study what you need to study, practice answering interview questions out loud, even in front of the mirror, dress well, and so on…

However once the interview actually takes place and you do everything within your power to make the best impression that you possibly can… and in fact lets us say that you do in fact do an incredible job… even then… EVEN THEN:

It is still up to the company to give you the job.

Even if you handle the interview in a most fantastic manner, the company is still not beholden to give you the job. At the end of it all, for reasons only known to them, it is still within their power to say “No”.

~ Like so with revivals. A church can only work to prepare itself as much as possible. However at the end of the day, … {Add comments on Martyn Lloyd Jones’ Church}

On the flip side, if you are slack in your prepping and primping for the interview, you can guarantee that things go south.

~ So you can either be in a position of prepping and primping with a who knows? Or you can be a position of slacking and slipping and be living down south.

(2) More or Less ~ The Job Interview

~ I made some additions to my previous post, (1) More or Less ~ Theological Background such that the post grew too long. So I am doing a cut and paste job and reposting here.

Possible Illustration – The Job Interview 

~ Lets say you are applying for a job as a museum curator or something like that, where you will be taking care of priceless Ming Vases. So when your interviewer tells you about the vases and asks you whether you can in fact take up a job where you will be handing such you say

“Well. I have scrupulously handled far lesser things – ordinary vases – with great care and attention. And since that has been the case, how much more will I take care of the Ming Vase.

Alternatively…

~ Lets say you are applying for a job as a museum curator or something like that, where you will be taking care of ordinary vases, and the interviewer acknowledges that they are ordinary but then asks if you can still handle them well. You answer,

“Well. I have scrupulously handled something far greater than this with great success, namely Ming Vases, so how much more am I capable of taking care of these vases.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much …” ~ Luke 16:10

(And it goes without saying that if you can be trusted with much, you can be trusted with little.)

One more verse has now come to mind

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  ~ Luke 12:48

I had a friend who once had a really rough medical school interview. He came from a very well to do family and just had a lot of things put in place for him.  In addition, his father was a big-shot who was very well known in his community.  The guy who was interviewing him knew about all this and sort of had it out against him for that reason. And at one point during the interview, he basically told him that “Unlike many other candidates, you come from a position of advantage. You have had it all. So why should we let you in?” Something like that.

My friend had no answer. I think the question was actually unfair, but I don’t want to get into that right now.  Suffice it to say that the guy would have had a really good answer if he knew Luke 12:48. He basically could have said something like the following:

“Yes. I understand that. I do not deny any of that. I realize that I have been born with many advantages that very many other people have not. However I also think that if the demands on me were greater, then I have no complaints and fully expect to meet them. In fact, perhaps the demands on me should be greater. In any event, due to my background, I intend to work that much harder and produce that much more, etc.”

~ Something like that. I am not giving a clean-cut crisp answer. However you get the idea.

(1) More or Less ~ Theological Background

~ There are some passages in the Bible that teach that if God takes care of little, i.e. lesser things, then how much more will He take care of for us, greater things.

28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? ~ Matthew 6:25-31

~ Then there are those passages that teach us that if God has given us what is greatest thing to give, viz. His Son, then how much more will He take care of for us, lesser things.

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” ~ Romans 8:32

~ We can apply this idea to other passages in the Bible. For example,

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 1:6

~ A lot of people think that this verse is referring to some current situation that we are now in. Maybe you think that God inspired you to write a book or take on some major project at the workplace.  But I believe that its actually referring to salvation, hence the mention about the day of Christ Jesus.

Yet still, we are not too far off in thinking that if God will take care of the grand, great, and good work of salvation in us, then He will also take care of other lesser good works in our lives.

Grace is like a Boomerang.

“For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” ~ Romans 11:36

Grace is like a boomerang that God throws and like all boomerangs it returns to to the thrower.

However when God throws it, it does not return the same. What I mean is that God throws it bronze, it returns to Him, silver. God throws it silver, it returns gold.

“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” ~ Isaiah 55:11

~ We are given the privilege of somehow being involved in this process. It is called worship.

“Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” ~ 1 Chronicles 29:14

~ If you think about it… boomerangs are pretty amazing. They used to be used for hunting, warfare, etc. However unlike swords, spears, wrenches, they are ingenious and amazing.

 

Bhangra – 1st go…

~ I’ve been wanting to do some kind of Bhangra art for some time now… Anime/Manga style.  Finding references of dancers in their original Bhangra dress and wear is not easy.  You can find 100’s of male refs but not much of women.  Anyway here is a rough starter sketch. I did the first sketch in Manga Studio 5, and then just duplicated the original 2x and resized. Anyway… lets see where this winds up…

Bhangra

The Greatest Need of Humanity

The greatest need of humanity is not

. . . happiness, joy, contentment, pleasure, sehnsucht, bliss . .

. . . nirvana, mukhti, moksha, fanaa, satori, cosmic oneness, the numinous . . .

. . . self-realization, self-actualization, self-fulfillment, self-annihilation, self-abnegation, . . .

. . . girl-friend, boy-friend, husband, wife, lover, or any “you complete me” person . . .

. . . soul-mate, mind-friend, kindred soul, kindred spirit, muse . . .

. . . friends, family, house, car, dog on the yard, . . .

. . . character, virtue, well-being, wholesomeness, . . .

. . . good deeds, great achievements, phenomenal accomplishments, . . .

No, rather the greatest need of humanity is forgiveness of sins from a holy God, and this can only be found on the Cross.

*Note – I am not saying that all of the above are bad. Some of them are good. However . . . one takes priority . . .

Can positives conceal negatives? Post @ Wisdom For Life

~The following is a great post that I came across at Wisdom For Life. It is written by Pastor Steve Cornell. I place just an excerpt to it here. You can follow the link below to read the whole post.

“Each year for the past 23 years I’ve taught a class for singles on making marriage one of their best decisions. One of the things we look at is a chart titled, “Things I love now and what they might be in 10 years.”

The person you’re thinking about marrying, for example, is very attentive and you love that about him. Later his attentiveness turns to possessiveness. The laid-back person turns out to be lazy. The playful person proves to be immature. The confident one turns out to be arrogant. But because you’re in love, you didn’t have eyes to see the negatives in the positives.  …”

Read further at: Can positives conceal negatives?

~ Also make sure you read the list of Positives without Negatives which is contained in the link below in his post. It begins like this:

“Positives without negatives:

1. Confident without being arrogant.

2. Humble without being weak.

3. Determined without being stubborn.    …”

~ This has to be one of the best reads that I have had in a long time.

Cause & Effect

“Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” ~ James 4:2

“But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.” ~ 2 Kings 3:15

21 … for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” 22 But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well. ~ Matthew 9:21-22

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” ~ Matthew 21:22 (ESV)

The Hounds of Sin ~ Weakness

~ The following is taken from a quote in E.M. Bounds’ book, The Necessity of Prayer:

“A dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry. Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well-nigh run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood. A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ So is it, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God. Well do I remember when the hounds of sin were after my soul, until, at last, I ran into the arms of Almighty God.” — A. C. DIXON.

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 “Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God.” ~ E.M. Bounds (1835-1913), The Necessity of Prayer

Faith & Fear: Thoughts On The Side

~ Tentative thoughts…

1) Faith and fear are synonymous if the fear in question is Fear of the Lord.

2) Faith and fear are mutually exclusive if the fear in question is a fear of the world, the devil, man, the future, etc. I.e. all that is not God.

3) Fear of the Lord and all other fear are mutually exclusive such that if the Fear of the Lord is truly present in a person, it will exorcise out all other fears.

~ That is to say that the big Fear drives out all the little fears.  For example, you could be waiting at the mechanic-shop, fearful about whats wrong with your car and how much its going to cost to fix it, and you get a phone-call telling you that someone you love has cancer. Now all those car worries are gone as you ache over the sick person.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” ~ 1 John 4:18

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Weakness: Worldly & Biblical

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me … For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9, 10

~ There are very many verses that talk about weakness in the Bible. The above is just one. There are also stories of weakness. I just read ARE YOU WEAK ENOUGH FOR GOD TO USE YOU? by Pastor J.D. Greear which is in the main, about Gideon.

The quick comment I want to make in passing is that there is such a thing as worldly weakness and biblical weakness.

Worldly weakness, no matter the form it comes in, whether it be sickness, insecurity, hopelessness, etc., is a form of weakness that ultimately terminates in the self, i.e. a dead end.

Biblical weakness on the other hand has as its endpoint, God. It has as its end, a full-fledged, abandoned to the world, complete dependence upon God. This is what Paul is talking about. This is the one where we consciously claim the promises found in Scripture, pray day and all night, get godly counsel, etc. and thus move forward.

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Findlay on Faith

MarshallBook~ I found a book online that I hope to eventually read. It is Faith as a Theme in Mark’s Narrative and it is by Christopher D. Marshall. You can read parts of it in Google Books. In it Marshall quotes an author from yestercentury, J.A. Findlay (1880-1961), on a definition of faith that he supplies. It is from pg. 107 of Findlay’s book, Jesus As They Saw Him, Part I. Mark.

“Faith, as illustrated in Mark’s gospel, may be defined as a painstaking and concentrated effort to obtain blessing for oneself or for others, material or spiritual, inspired by a confident belief that God in Jesus can supply all human need.”

~ The definition is nothing special. That is exactly why I like it. A child can exercise faith. You don’t need to be some super-saint.

Aside: While I find Findlay’s books online, I can find almost nothing about who he was. Go figure…

ReallyPale

Proleptic Faith

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” ~Mark 11:24

 “… to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit …” ~ 1 Cor. 12:9

~ Prolepsis is speaking of things in the future as though there were a done deal… a done deal in the past.  I believe that certain people have a special unique gift of faith such that they can call things before they happen. Or it may not be certain people but rather that all believers experience proleptic-faith moments in their lives where they can call certain things. They just know that something is going to work out.  God has somehow given it to them to know this.

~ Is there a special gift of faith that people have? Here is John Piper on this:

“In my message on Romans 12:3-8 , I argued from verse 3 that God gives varying measures of faith to his people. Paul says that we ought “to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” In the context this is not a limited reference to the unique spiritual gift of faith (1 Corinthians 12:9). For Paul says, “I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” “To each” refers back to “everyone among you.” God has given all Christians varying measures of faith. This is the faith with which we receive and use our varying gifts. It is the ordinary daily faith by which we live and minister.”

Follow Through Articles written by John Piper:
1) God Has Allotted to Each a Measure of Faith
2) The Elders, the People, and the Prayer of Faith
3) George Mueller’s Strategy for Showing God

~~> *Addendum: Just a quick note in passing. I have had what I thought was this Mark 11:24 faith moments. I mean I just knew that such and such was going to happen. Totally! And… and … what I thought would happen failed to happen. The lesson: Be really careful and sober.  Our emotions get the best of us sometimes.

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Quick Observation in Passing ~ On Giving Up

~ I can’t help but notice that as I go through the Gospels, I cannot think of a single instance where Jesus gives up on anything. Not one. He never throws in the towel. He never throws up a while flag.  There is simply no surrender.  No retreat. Zip.  At no point does He ever say to the disciples, “You know what guys. I don’t think this is working. I just don’t. Maybe we need to call it a day and try something else.”  Never. And His mission is the most difficult of all. He is journeying to Jerusalem where He knows He will be crucified.

Can we be like that?

Yes. However we have to be wise enough in knowing what races to run, what battles to enter.  I am not going to join an ice hockey team this weekend in the hopes of winning the Stanley Cup.  Maybe I’ll join a drawing contest, but ice hockey. Uh… No. I would like to keep all my teeth till old age.

Ice Hockey Player

Ann Hasseltine Judson (1789-1826)

~ “Love … rejoices with the truth.”~ 1 Corinthians 13:6

~ It is not enough to know the truth.  One must also feel the truth. Cold truth does not persuade. It can in fact alienate. This is why it is important to write well.  To write well is to write life.

In this post I want to follow through on what I mentioned in my previous post. Since March is Women’s History Month, I want to post a thing or two on some women.  In this post, I want to post some excerpts from the Memoirs of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, who was really blessed with a gift for writing.  Judson was the wife of Adoniram Judson. They together were missionaries to Rangoon, Burma.

I. Delightful excerpt from  Ruth Tucker’s book, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, pg. 139. Tucker is getting her excerpt from another book, To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson, by Courtney Anderson, pg. 509.

“We are blessed with our full share of cockroaches, beetles, lizards, rats, ants, mosquitoes, and bed-bugs. With the last the woodwork is all alive, and the ants troop over the house in great droves. … Perhaps twenty have crossed my paper since I have been writing. Only one cockroach has paid me a visit, but the neglect of these gentlemen has been made fully made up by a company of black bugs about the size of the end of your finger – nameless adventurers.”

II.  From the Memoirs:

To Rev. Dr. Wayland.
“Baltimore, Dec. 5, 1822″

“How much of heaven might Christians enjoy even here on earth, if they would make an effort, if they would keep in view what ought to be their great object in life. If they would but make the enjoyment of God their main pursuit, how much more consistent with their profession would be their conduct, how much more useful their lives, and how much more rapidly would they ripen for eternal glory. Christians do not sufficiently assist each other in their walk. They are not enough in the habit of conversing familiarly and affectionately on the state of each other’s souls, and kindly encouraging each other to persevere and get near to heaven. One degree of grace attained in this world is worth more than every earthly enjoyment. …”

All That Aside … Some Jazzzz… My Two Cents Worth of Writing Advice:
~ When it comes to writing, I am nothing special but for whatever reason I have been told by bunches of people that I can write well and even that I should pursue it more formally.  My answer to all of this is: “Neti. Neti. Neti.” Sorry.  Why? I don’ know why.  I have not settled the thought yet.  And … that all said, I do have writing tips, for those so interested:

1¢) Read. Read. Read! ~~~> and that too broadly, not just in the area of your personal interests.
~ This is perhaps the most common tip given out by folks in the writing community.

1¢) Write. Write. Write!

Malcolm Gladwell is known for popularizing the 10,000 hour rule.  He basically says that whatever your craft is, you need to invest 10,000 hours into it before you become really good at it. So … Write! Write! Write! Find your voice and get it out. Just as a preacher has to preach, preach, preach in order to find his voice, so too you must write, write, write.

All that said, here is something I made in Xara and tweeted at chasingpeacocks.

AHJ

 

Machiko Hasegawa (1920-1992)

~ March is Woman’s History Month, so I made the following:

MH

Woohoo!!!

~ Here is a brief bio that I have put together based on my reading from her Wiki bio and elsewhere:

~ Machiko Hasegawa (長谷川町子 Hasegawa Machiko) was one of world’s the first female manga artists. She was born on January 20th, 1920. In 1946, Hasegawa started her own comic strip, Sazae-san in the newspaper, Asahi Shimbun. This comic strip which ran in said newspaper from 1949 to 1974, was about the life a woman, Sazae-san, a fictional Japanese housewife. This strip became very popular and was eventually even was made into a popular radio show in 1956. In addition to this Hasegawa also created another comic, Granny Mischief.

~ One more thing – an important one: For her work as an artist, Hasegawa eventually received the People’s Honor Award in 1992. She passed away on May 27, 1992, at the age of 72.

~ All that said, I hope to have a post out on the 31st on Anne Judson Hasseltine (1789-1826), who was a wonderful writer.

Joy and Sadness

Puddleglum

Puddleglum

(1) The Bible teaches that we are to always be joyful:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” ~ Philippians 4:4

~ Ever met a person who is always negative or down in the dumps? I am not talking about someone who has a depression that is a clinical issue. I am talking people we meet in daily life who have many a good thing going for them and yet still are always perpetual Puddleglums.

Anyway how can Christians always be joyful? Christians can always be joyful because at any given moment, they have more reasons to be joyful than not. The reasons for always outnumber the reasons against.

(2) Yet the Bible also teaches that we are to be sorrowful at times. Huh?

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” ~ Romans 12:15

~~~> “… mourn with those who mourn.”

Yet this sort of mournfulness is not the same thing as that of the aforementioned Puddleglum. This is a different sort of a thing that much of the negativity and pessimism that can be found making the rounds in our everyday air. I am reminded of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who famously penned some work on Pessimism. Schopenhauer had a very negative outlook on life. If ever he found that he did not have anything to worry about at a given moment, then he would worry about the fact that he did not have anything to worry about.

No this is not the same thing as the mourning of Romans 12:15. There are ways in which you can be mournful and yet still not have a negative outlook on life. You can still move forwards in spite of sorrow-laded hardships. An interesting verse from the book of Proverbs to consider is:

“Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.” ~ Proverbs 14:13

~ I have had good days with all sorts of joking around, hanging our with friends, doing this and doing that, and yet at the end of the day when I introspected, I found that underneath it all I was still sad. Why? While I haven’t always known why, I think we can go right back to the above Proverb and see that sadness and gladness are possible together. And if that is so then you could have situations where you “mourn with those who mourn” and yet still have joy deep down within.

(3) Is this so? That we can be both sad and glad? Yes and in fact the Bible teaches that it is possible to be sad and yet still to have a gladness slipped in underneath. 

“… sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” ~2 Corinthians 6:10

~~~> ” … sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”

Yes while this is so, I think the default state is Philippians 4:4. So we are to always be rejoicing. And when rough times come, we can do both.

Mission Directs How We Exercise Faith (1)

~ In chapter 8 of Matthew, some remarkable things from the life of Jesus are detailed. For example, we see:

(1) in vv. 1-8, that Jesus heals a leper,
(2) in vv. 5-13, that Jesus heals a centurion’s servant on account of the great faith of the centurion,
(3) in vv. 14-15, Jesus heals Peter’s mother and
(4) in vv. 16-17, that Jesus heals and exorcises many many people.

~ The above four should give us an idea of what Jesus’s mission was. It was at the least a mission that involved healing people and setting people free from bondage to demons. Now of course we know that His mission involved much more than that because if we roll back a slight bit to chapter 7 of Matthew, we see Jesus teaching the masses various things.  And if we roll forward all the way to the last chapter of Matthew – chapter 28, we come to the Resurrection, which is about Jesus’ victory over sin and death, i.e. the main purpose of His mission.

Keeping all this in mind, let us come back to Matthew 8 and look at the story where Jesus calms the storm. Let us imagine that the story ends in a different sort of a way and — AND that as a result, chapter 8 is the last chapter of Matthew.

So again, IMAGINE that Matthew consists only of 8 chapters, not 28.

Why?

Well read the story of the calming of the storm, in the manner in which I write it now and you will see why. A certain absurdity ought to arise in your mind.

Point: ~~~> Hopefully you will be able to understand better Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples where He says “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” 


386px-Rembrandt_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Lake_of_Galilee

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633) by Rembrandt van Rijn

 23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” ~Matthew 8:23-25

~ Jesus was shocked! Immediately getting up, He grabbed a bucket and worked furiously to fill it with water and cast it out. The disciples also continued to strain hard at the oars as they attempted to control the boat. The waves however continued to pound them one after another and fearsome lightning lit up the sky and loud thunder shook up everyone and everything and filled their hearts with fear. The best of their efforts seemed hopeless and futile. Finally a wave thrice the size of the boat rose up and fell down on them with a loud crash! The boat was torn to pieces. Jesus and the disciples struggled to swim and stay afloat doing their best to grab on to any of the pieces of the wood from the boat. It was however no use. The storm was too strong. One by one they all drowned.

~ So ends the Gospel of Matthew here at chapter 8.

Now – doesn’t it seem just a bit absurd to think that Jesus, after doing all those things detailed up above, that His life and mission would suddenly fold like that?

Negative Thinking and the Responses it Engenders

~ Negative thinking generally engenders two types of responses: a passive response and an active response.

Passive Response:
~ The passive response is characterized by a lack of action or inaction. I think that one classic illustration from the Bible has to to do with the Joshua, Caleb and the 10 other spies sent out to reconnoiter the Promised Land, Canaan. After their reconnaissance of Canaan, the response of the 10 spies is bleak and negative. I will post a snip of their response here:

“We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!” 32 So they began to spread lies among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored is one that devours those who live there. All the people we saw there are very tall. 33 We saw Nephilim there. (The descendants of Anak are Nephilim.) We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.” ~ Numbers 13 

The ultimate judgment on these people is that they do not get to see the Promised Land.

Active Response:
~ The active response is characterized by wrong or misdirected (really sin-directed) action.

Here instead of wallowing in our negativism and sitting back and doing nothing, we instead try to do God a favor and get ahead of Him. Basically God has spoken and directed, however due to unbelief in what He has said and done, we take things into our own hands.

Perhaps the classic example here is Abraham, Sarah, Hagar and the birth of Ishmael.  However I want to look at another example, that of King Jeroboam plunging Israel into idolatry.  As the story goes Jeroboam has been given a huge chunk of the kingdom by God on account of the sins of King Solomon.  When he is told by a prophet that he is to receive 10 tribes of the kingdom, he is also told that this is of God and that he will receive all kinds of blessings to go with it, provided he follows God.  Yet what does he do later? Let us start with his negative thinking:

Jeroboam rebuilt Shechem in the hills of Ephraim and lived there. Then he left that place and built Penuel. 26 He said to himself, ‘The kingdom will probably return to David’s dynasty now. 27 King Rehoboam of Judah, the former master of these people, will regain popularity if they go to sacrifice in the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. Then they will kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.'” ~ 1 Kings 12

Following this is his response which basically constitutes misdirected action:

After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said, “You’ve been worshiping in Jerusalem long enough. Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.” 29 He put one in Bethel and the other in Dan. 30 Worshiping them became Israel’s sin.” ~ 1 Kings 12

So there you have it. Negative thinking and the responses it engenders. One response resulting in sins of inaction and another response resulting in sins of mis-directed action.

Finally what is the appropriate response to all the things in life that come our way if negativism is the proper course? Exercising faith in God. Praying, meditating on his word, fellowshipping, getting counsel, and so on and then stepping out on faith.

“… For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” ~ Romans 14:23

Aside: Note also that these two forms of action that arise from negative thinking can also be classified as sins of omission and sins of commission.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” ~ James 4:17

Additional Recc: Whatever Is Not from Faith Is Sin — Really? by John Piper

Quick Notes from The Parable of the Talents (2)

~ The following are some quick jots from a blog post at the Sapienta blog over at The Henry Center for Theological Understanding. The notes come from a post on The Parable of the Talents (2) by Dr. Constantine Campbell.  I strongly urge reading the post in its entirety and also Dr. Campbell’s series on Achievement which can be found at said blog.

~~~>

“Second, being faithful with what is entrusted leads to greater entrusting. The first two servants are rewarded for their faithfulness with more work! Our achievements tend to “grow” as we prove reliable in our responsibilities. This is as true in the corporate world as it is with preaching. It is a natural and obvious unwritten rule: as trust grows, so entrusting grows.

Third, the reverse is true. Doing nothing is not the right way to handle what has been entrusted to you. If entrusted with money, ability, the gospel, or whatever, we are expected to “work it.”

Sometimes we can fail to put God’s resources into action because we are overly worried that we will get it wrong. Of course we ought to pray, seek counsel and wisdom in deciding how to “invest,” but we ought not be paralyzed by fear.

“Only Wounded Soldiers Can Serve”

~ I so like this devotional by John Piper, that I am going to wholesale cut and paste it here. Click on the image here to go to the original page:

DG

Some of you are going through things right now that are painfully preparing you for some precious service to the Lord and to his people.  When a person strikes rock bottom with a sense of nothingness or helplessness he may find that he has struck the Rock of Ages.

I remember a delicious sentence from Psalm 138 that we read at our breakfast devotions last Saturday: “Though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly.” You cannot sink so low in despairing of your own resources that God does not see and care.  In fact he is at the bottom waiting to catch you. As Moses says, “The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).

Yes, he sees you trembling and slipping.  He could (and often did) grab you before you hit bottom.  But this time he has some new lessons to teach. The psalmist said in Psalm 119:71, “It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes.” He does not say it was easy or fun or pleasant. In retrospect he simply says, “It was good for me.”

I was reading a book by a Scottish minister last week. This James Stewart said, “In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.” That’s why I believe some of you are being prepared for some precious service of love right now. Because you are being wounded. Do not think that your wound has come to you apart from God’s gracious design. Remember His word: “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god besides Me…I wound and I heal…” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

I am praying for you all who groan under your burden. And I am eagerly looking for the new tenderness of love God is imparting to you even now.

Pastor John

Feb 10, 1981

JP

Flannery O’Connor & Peacocks…

This woman just rocks!

Flannery O'Connor

Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater; the opposite is what sin is…. The struggle to submit… is not a struggle to submit but a struggle to accept and with passion. I mean, possibly, with joy. Picture me with my ground teeth stalking joy – fully armed too as it’s a highly dangerous quest.” ~ Flannery O’Connor

~ I found the quote in John Piper’s book, When I Don’t Desire God. You can click on the link to dl a pdf copy of his book.

And here is a book I will have to read…

FOC1

Temptation & Testing/Trial

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

In the above verse we have a couple of words, “temptation” and “tempted” which come from a Koine Greek word, that really could be translated not just as “temptation” or “tempted” but so also as “trial” or “tested”.  So you could in theory render the above verse as:

“No trial has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your ability, but with the trial he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

This is not to say that trials(i.e. tests) and temptations are the exact same thing. All temptations are trials but not all trials are temptations. Context helps you determine what is going on in a given verse or even in your life.  God does not tempt. He tests. Satan however does tempt.

~ Why is this important? Quite often you will hear people say one of the following:

1. God will never give you more than you can handle.
2. God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle.
3. God will not allow you to be tested beyond what you can handle.
~~~
(1) is false. Actually God will. We see this in Scripture several times.
(2) and (3) are true.

~ Finish this later.

Why Can’t We Just Be Less Than Friends…

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight…” ~ Philippians 1:9

Comment on this later:

It’s Not You, It’s God: Nine Lessons for Breakups by Marshall Segal

~ I have qualms about some of what is said in the above article. I will do a rethink and comment later. I think it is because I have a mixed Eastern and Western perspective on things that I have the qualms that I do. Scripture must ultimately arbiter.