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

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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 in 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…

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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.

On Babies Being Born Addicted to Drugs

~ The following is something that I need to research later on. For now I will just take a few quick notes from this NIH article:

“Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a group of problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive opiate drugs while in the mother’s womb. …

Neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs because a pregnant woman takes opiate or narcotic drugs such as heroin, codeine, oxycodone (Oxycontin) methadone or buprenorphine.

These and other substances pass through the placenta that connects the baby to its mother in the womb. The baby becomes addicted along with the mother.

At birth, the baby is still dependent on the drug. Because the baby is no longer getting the drug after birth, symptoms of withdrawal may occur.”

You can read about this at: Neonatal abstinence syndrome

Quick Jot on Philippians 1:9

~ The following is a quick jot from Frank Thielman’s NIV Application Commentary on Philippians. Let me put the verse out first:

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

“His [Paul] basic request is that the Philippians’ love will steadily increase ‘in knowledge and depth of insight.’  The term ‘love’ is not further limited or defined, although if it bears the meaning here that it has in the rest of the letter (1:16, 2:1-2), it refers to the love believers should have for one another. … Paul prays that their love for one another will increase first in ‘knowledge’ (epignosis) … he probably intends for it to cover spiritual knowledge generally. If so, the point of his petition is that the Philippians might understand how to obey God’s command that believers love one another. … Paul’s basic request for the Philippians, in other words, is that they might express their love in ways that show both a knowledge of how to obey God’s will generally, and, more specifically, of how to make moral decisions based on God’s will in the give-and-take of everyday living.” ~pg 40

 

Going Hard After the Holy God ~ Sermon Notes

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Phil. 3:13-14

The following is jotting that I have taken from a sermon given by John Piper, the founder of Desiring God Ministries. Please note, the paragraph breakups and the emphasis are from me. Anyway here it is:

2. Forget the Things Which Lie Behind

The second step in going hard after God is to forget those things which lie behind (v. 13).

I take this to mean that anything in your background which hinders your pursuit of God you should put out of your mind. Don’t take this to mean that memory has no place in our spiritual artillery. It does. Some battles are won by remembered mercies (Psalm 77:11; Hebrews 11).

The point is not: never look back.

The point is: only look back for the sake of pressing forward.

Never substitute nostalgia for hope. Memories of successes can make you smug and self-satisfied. Memories of failure can make you hopeless and paralyzed in your pursuit of God. Never look back like that. Give humble thanks for successes; make humble confessions for failure; then turn to the future and go hard after God.

Dr. John Piper

Dr. John Piper

So I think the exercise here is to take stock of our anchors from the past that weigh us down and think about how they actually can help us to press forward. Or otherwise don’t look back at them.

Facebook Obsession and the Anguish of Boredom ~ by Tony Reinke

~ Tony Reinke has written an amazing and timely article. You can read it here at: Facebook Obsession and the Anguish of Boredom by Tony Reinke at Desiring God Ministries I resonate with it strongly because I have found that when I get too much into Social Media, my prayer life weakens. So I have to be disciplined about it.

FBHQ

At the end of the day its all about balance. Reinke is not slamming FB or anything like that, however the things he points out are worthy of consideration. I personally think that more can be said but will leave it at his words.

Actually I will say two thing…

1) I can say without doubt that my prayer habits have suffered on account of Social Media, esp. Facebook. As such I deliberately do not do Facebook. Even Twitter, I am really careful with. Just the weekends and that usually Sundays.

2) Even if my prayer habits are not suffering on account of my social media activities, I need to consider whether I am causing others to weaken in their prayer habits.

Mark 11:20-24 & Faith

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mk 11:20–24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this X … and does not doubt … but believes that X … it will be done for him.

~ My guess is that this is saying that faith and doubt are mutually exclusive when their object is the same.

Its like saying that you cannot believe that a rose is red and not-red at the same time.

I will have to keep thinking about this.

The Trial of Job

“Yet man is born unto trouble, as surely as sparks fly upward.” ~ Job 5:7

~ A whiles back I wrote a poem on Job.  A little later I came across a bronze sculpture of Job made by the Croatian sculptor and architect Ivan Mestrovic (1883-1962). I set the words of my poem to his sculpture and posted it on Facebook.  Here it is:

JobIM2

 

~  I used Manga Studio 5 to make this.

Faith In vs. Faith That – CB2 L8R

ShuttleFinFthat

~ I know  – this is a bit crazy. Ehhh… whatever… I inked it in with my bamboo… really do not like the writing… tacky – but ehh… for now.

My point is that one has faith in X that Y.

~So you have faith in God that Vindaloo will heal from his sickness. ~~~> You can draw out from this: “I have faith that Vindaloo will heal from his sickness.”

Now what this means is that whatever you have faith in in – that is whatever your rocket is pointed at – had better be the well and good and true. The rocket better be pointed at the right target or else the shuttle will not make it to where it should.

For example if you have faith in some false gurur that Vindaloo heals then you can say bye to Vindaloo.

Character is Evidence … Work on this later…

Somewhere I blogged that faith involves evidence for vs. evidence against.

So God may tell you go in direction Y, but everything in life says ~Y. Temptation says ~Y.

Sometimes the evidence is character.

So sometimes the devil will say such and such is of no use. You are hopeless. And there may be evidence presented to that effect. And… it would seem that you don’t have any evidence to the contrary.

However it maybe the case that if you are being biblical, that you have to believe otherwise – and the only thing that you have to go on is God’s character. In this case, character is evidence.

Faith, Knowledge & Belief Distinctions – Work through this later.

This analysis might seem to some to border on inanity. Don’t ask why – but I just need to understand this better.

For now this is just a tentative sketch …  I need to think it through more later.

FKB

 

Unbelief is a belief – belief in the wrong thing.

Can we oscillate between belief and unbelief? “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief!” is not so much speaking of holding simultaneous contradictory beliefs as it is talking about going back and forth between the two. Evidence.

Beliefs are regarded as involuntary.

~ The object of belief has to be sole and singular – Jesus Christ.

~ The objects of unbelief are multitudinous.

Is faith involuntary?

Appearance and reality

~ What belief and faith have in common are appearance. What faith and knowledge have in common are reality.

I have faith in evidence.  Evidence in turn strengthens my faith.

Joy in James ~ CB2L8R

zecntJames

~ The following is a clip from Craig Blomberg & Mariam Kammell’s Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on James. For now I just want to note it here. I will comment on it later.

“This verse starts off with the command to “consider it all joy,” an imperative that has been highly abused in interpretation. First, the word for “all” (πᾶσαν) does not mean “everything” in this context, but functions adjectivally here, implying “pure” or “entire.” In other words, it does not form part of the direct object (“ Consider everything”) but identifies the type of joy one should have. 12 “Joy” (χαράν), in turn, speaks of a state of being rather than an emotion. 13 Joy proves quite different from happiness, so that this verse does not support the idea that a Christian must smile all the time! Joy may be defined as a settled contentment in every situation or “an unnatural reaction of deep, steady and unadulterated thankful trust in God.” 14

The third key piece of this opening command is the verb “consider” (ἡγήσασθε). This is a verb of thought rather than emotion. James is not commanding how one should feel, but rather how one should think about one’s circumstances. 16 Thus one is to “consider” or “reckon” any given difficult circumstance as “pure joy.” 17


Blomberg, Craig L.; Kamell, Mariam J. (2009-10-06). James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament series Book 16) (Kindle Locations 751-772). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

The references cited:

12 . Johnson (The Letter of James, 176 ) offers “consider it entirely as joy” as a translation of this line.
13 . Patrick J. Hartin (“ The Call to be Perfect through Suffering [James 1,2 – 4]: The Concept of Perfection in the Epistle of James and in the Sermon on the Mount,” Bib 77 [1996]: 477) notes that in James, “joy emerges as the proper response in situations where one’s faith is tested.”
14 . Derek Tidball, Wisdom from Heaven: The Message of the Letter of James for Today (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2003), 22.
16 . D. Edmond Hiebert (The Epistle of James: Tests of a Living Faith [Chicago: Moody Press, 1979], 71) calls this a settled conviction because of the aorist tense of this command. While in many contexts, this may be to “abuse” the aorist, here it seems to work well.
17 . William R. Baker (“ James,” in William R. Baker and Paul Carrier, James-Jude [Cincinnati: Standard, 1990], 18) notes that “problems are to be viewed with joy not because we actually enjoy them, but because they are part of God’s plan for us.”

Blomberg, Craig L.; Kamell, Mariam J. (2009-10-06). James (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament series Book 16) (Kindle Locations 1178-1193). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

Gethsemane

In Matthew 26, Jesus indicates that though He will die, He will ultimately live again in the Father’s Kingdom.

27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

~ He may have done this several times before, viz. indicate that He will wind up in Heaven ultimately. This surely is a cause for joy. Knowing that your ultimate fate involves Heaven should drown all sorrows should do so. No?

Later on in Matthew 26, we find that

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.

Why is Jesus sorrowful when He knows that His ultimate fate will involve rejoicing in Heaven?

~ I know that this sounds like pettifoggery but still…