Archive for August, 2015
“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day the Lord God made earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:4).
Creator creates creation is the decisive proclamation that emerges from Genesis 1-2. It is an account that offers not a scientific description but a theological affirmation. Its importance is found in the questions of who and why, not how and when. The faith of the church has no vested interest in the various scientific hypotheses regarding the origins of the universe. The division we imagine between literalists and modern rationalists is an unnecessary chasm. God’s agency in creation leaves room for broadest of scientific speculations. Besides, a god small enough for any of us to fully explain isn’t big enough to be worthy of our worship.
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
Spiritually, relationally, or professionally, accomplishing anything of lasting significance necessitates seeking wise counsel. When considering the Christian faith, and the eventual “call” to vocational ministry, I sought the counsel not of professing religious persons but those I recognized as transformed, devoted followers of Christ.
When speaking to students about relationships, a main emphasis is that healthy relationships are open to the scrutiny and investigation of friends and family who are mature Christians. Only unhealthy relationships are veiled, secretive, and cause us to become upset when examined and questioned by others.
Professionally, trusted Christian friends, who may better recognize our strengths and weaknesses, can be an invaluable resource when opportunities are set before us.
When facing big decisions, don’t be afraid to ask.
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
While some will pray sometimes, with some prayers, with some regularity for some people, a more comprehensive approach to this key of spiritual warfare is praying all the time, with all kind of prayer, with all perseverance, for all the saints. Praying at all times requires a consideration of all these things.
“What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches” (Luke 13:18-19).
Christ’ birth, crucifixion, death, resurrection, ascension, and the coming of his Spirit means that the kingdom of God isn’t just something to come, but is now a present reality; dwelling in his Church, his people, in you and me. In practical terms it means living with the realization that each day is filled with kingdom possibilities. It is a perspective that must be embraced. Being a Kingdom champion can never be accomplished apart from thinking like one. Dwelling on the failures of yesterday or the uncertainties of tomorrow robs you of the energy required to be a champion of today.
“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (Luke 6:45).
From a parable dealing with the human tendency to criticize and judge, Jesus teaches that our words have the ability to speak life or death, victory or defeat, fact or fiction, edification or destruction. If the gospel is truly accomplishing its work in our lives then it changes the ground rules by which we deal with others. What the gospel seeks to achieve within us is what we imagine ourselves being. Let us be as great in our actions as we are in our imagination.
“”Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce’” (Jeremiah 29:4-5).
Being followers of Christ and aliens in a strange land (1 Peter 2:12) doesn’t mean we isolate, segregate, and sequester ourselves away in the fear of being corrupted by the outside world. Doing so is such an egregious expression of hiding one’s light under a basket and deliberately removing the most vital spice, salt, from our Lord’s recipe for redeeming the world. The church’s mission can be fulfilled in neither our sanctuaries nor our private and exclusive institutions but, rather, only in the mainstreams of everyday life.
“Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink” (Daniel 1:12).
Not wanting to compromise the dietary laws of their faith, Daniel kindly and humbly offered an alternative menu plan to the foods that Nebuchadnezzar was seeking to impose upon them. What a vivid reminder that when confronted with those things that conflict with our faith, we need not be argumentative; seeking to determine who’s right and who’s wrong. Instead of offended reactionaries the fruit of the Spirit enables us to be gracious redeemers.
“The king appointed that they should be educated three years, at the end of which they were to enter the king’s personal service. As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:5, 17).
Instead of an adverse response to and branding as “evil” a curriculum that was not rooted in Judaism or the Hebrew language, Daniel and his three friends embraced this educational opportunity and used it to bear testimony of the One true God. There is no better way to engage the culture than to know their language and literature. We are mistaken when we divide our life and learning into sacred and secular. If Christ is the embodiment of absolute Truth then, philosophically speaking, all knowledge comes from him and all knowledge points to him. To seek knowledge is to value and appreciate the intellectual, creative, and imaginative capacity that God has bestowed upon humankind.
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17).
Certain vocations require a certain type of clothing. Consider, for instance, firemen and their distinctive helmet and large fire-retardant coat, or a physician in a laboratory coat. In that same way, the vocational call of Christ upon our lives requires its own wardrobe — the full armor of God. And, yet, this putting on of the full armor of God is but a metaphor for our dependence upon God and the life of prayer. Forget the designer labels. Dressing up is praying up.
“The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:6-7).
Even in the life of faith, to achieve any measure of success requires a certain mindset. What God desires to see accomplished in our lives does not occur naturally. It requires an intentional mindset determined to respond in obedience to the teaching of God’s Word and the bidding of His indwelling Spirit. Living it cannot be accomplished apart from thinking it. It’s all about the mindset.