Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Friday, August 28, 2015

Leftovers



Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty. – Proverbs 28:19


This is not just about farming; it is true in any business, any pursuit, ministry, avocation or vocation, if we work at it, fervently and diligently, we will in that area prosper.  Plenty of poverty awaits the neglectful, the slothful or the person who is constantly shirking and complaining and blaming others for their circumstances.  We need a minimum wage that allows servers of Big Macs to buy a new Escalade because there is no way that would cause people to think Big Macs were too expensive or cause McDonalds franchises to close because they weren’t making any money. 

People who do not take care of their own business will become satiated with lack, emptiness, and the pointlessness of existence.  Our business is, ultimately, to find a place in our hearts for Christ.  We must break up that fallow ground so that the Word may take root in us and grow.  In Him we find wholeness, fullness of joy, and peace with God.  To busy ourselves with anything else while neglecting the business of eternity is to set ourselves up for plenty of poverty. 

To be in poverty means that we lack something essential – in Christ we lack nothing:  The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing (Psalms 34:10).  Those who roar and rampage trying to find satisfaction in the animal life and in the passing fancies of the world system will suffer and hunger.  They will never find sufficiency or be able to fill the emptiness inside. 

Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness puts us in line with the Way.  When we are in the Way and of the Way, we are free of the anxieties, wants, and viewpoints of the world system.  Be it unto you, Jesus said, according to your faith.  The more we immerse ourselves in Him, the more the mind of Christ controls us, the less we subject ourselves to the mind of the flesh, the more Bread of Life we will have, with basketfuls to share.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Songs of Ascent



This is the law of the temple: the whole territory on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple. -- Ezekiel 43:12


Access to the Father is no longer limited to a priesthood.  Everyone, regardless of birth, sex, race, or social status is able to enter into a relationship and communion with God.  What had been limited and restricted becomes open and free, the price of absolution and admittance having been fully paid on the Cross. 

The common is removed, not by being taken away or demolished but by being transformed.  The most ordinary aspects of life – eating, sleeping, working, serving – are renewed, dying and resurrecting to become yet another means of worshiping and honoring the Lord. 

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. … This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 2:17-18, 3:6). 


There is no person beyond God’s reach.  Every corner of our lives can become holy.

The way I look at it, the temple and its immediate grounds -- what was set apart under the instruction of Moses and enforced by the priesthood of Aaron, represents more traditional, exoteric religious thinking.  We do good.  We live right.  We act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.  There is nothing wrong with this, just as there was nothing wrong with the temple or that tabernacle.  But it leaves us stuck in the illusion of a ground floor in the two-story universe. 

The fuller, more whole type of Christian faith and practice brings us up closer to the level of heaven.  Notice that it is the top of the mountain that is holy.  There are valleys and gulches that we must leave behind.  God doesn’t sanctify our dark and worldly desires; those He banishes.  We must lay aside much that burdens and holds us back if we would make the ascent. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pop Culture, Degeneracy, and Duggars



But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out. -- Numbers 32:23


I have a friend who lives down in Arkansas, not too far from where the Duggar clan abides.  I have never watched their “reality” show and really could care less about their lifestyle.  My friend, though, says they have always presented a fa├žade that is, to her, not credible.  She is a lovely, sweet person, but she is almost gloating about their sudden fall. 

One of the memes we see coming out of this from “liberals” claims that having millions of people registered on an adultery site proves that the institution of marriage will not be destroyed by homosexual nuptials.  I have to wonder if they have thought that through.  Perhaps it was making divorce easy and acceptable, coupled with widespread adultery and the resultant de-sanctification of marriage that allows homosexual unions to seem acceptable to some people.  Perhaps our problem is that normal people do not have enough respect for the institution to keep their vows.  The attitude of popular culture toward divorce and adultery along with feminazis equating marriage to slavery has made marriage a joke and homosexual marriage is the natural punch line.    

I don’t have anything against the Duggars, and I have no interest in criticizing or condemning them.   As far as I am concerned, a desire to disconnect and separate from a degenerate popular culture is admirable.  To the extent that the clan does this, I admire them.   I doubt this incident will cause much of a change in their lifestyles.  They will “work through” their issues and tighten the screws down a little tighter, be more “accountable” to one another when it comes to cell phones and internet browsing history while continuing to live in their two-story universe.  They will continue to be better people than I am. 

The greater point is that our sin will find us out, as individuals and as a nation.  It is the nature of violating the rules of reality, of rejecting truth that sooner or later, the consequences must pull us up short, and we are exposed. 

The sad thing is that I never needed a site to help me commit adultery.  I didn’t need pr0n on the internet to be wicked.  I was born this way.  I never cheated on my wife, but it wasn’t because I thought I might get caught.  It was because I knew I was already caught.  I know what Adam found out that first evening after the Fall.  Hiding behind fig leaves or putting my hands over my eyes so I can’t see God does not mean that He can’t see me, that I am not still completely naked and exposed before Him.

I have to ask myself the question, “Boy, who do you think you are fooling?”  It is certainly not God.  In the end, it’s not other people.  It is only myself.  Consider again what the verse says, I am sure that my sin will find me out.    

Friday, August 21, 2015

All That



So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. – 1 Corinthians 3:21-23


The Church at Corinth had a lot of problems, not the least of which was division and schism, the desire to exalt one person or one teacher over another.  Some were partisans of the Apostle Paul with his depth of understanding into the mysteries and types of God’s written word.  Others followed Cephas (most likely Peter, though some question if it might refer to another leader) the Rock who had seen Christ face to face and had the pierced hands of the Risen Lord placed upon him.  Still others were fans of the eloquence and persuasive insights of Apollos, the gifted and anointed orator.   

Paul dismisses such divisions by saying that one should look beyond the man and the messenger to the One who has sent, not only Paul, Peter, and Apollos, but Christ Himself.  Even the Son, co-equal with the Father and essential in the Trinitarian personhood of the Lord God Almighty, always pointed humanity to the Father.

Commentators who are scholars of New Testament Greek tell us that it would be proper to remove the definite articles … world … life … death … present … future.  All is ours because all is God’s.  We catch a glimpse of what we might call the quantum gospel, where the apparent dualism of the material world fades out, and we see the face emerge from the painting of a landscape. 

God finds us where we are.  He calls to us in the language we can hear and understand.  He speaks Hebrew, Russian, Greek and German, Swahili, Tagalog, Spanish and English.  He even speaks Hillbilly.  I appreciate that.  The simple and the sophisticate, the ignorant and the intellectual, as at the Day of Pentecost, hear declared in their own dialects and idioms the wonderful works of God. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Getting A Handle On It



 Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots!  Does the clay say to him who forms it, What are you making? or Your work has no handles?
Woe to him who says to a father, What are you begetting? or to a woman, With what are you in labor?
Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? -- Isaiah 45:9-11


Are we going to tell God what to do with our lives or ask Him why He has made us the way we are, or why He has allowed the things into our lives that He has? 

I’ll admit that it seems presumptuous for the pot to ask why the potter has not added handles.  As the hillbillies used to say, It’s a shame I wasn’t born rich instead of so good-looking.  God did not put handles on us because we are not the kind that has to be carried around.  We are the waiting and holding kind, the pot that rests on the shelf, ready to receive what the handled pot brings in.  Or we are the kind with handles, and we envy our fellow pots that never get dragged out into the field or down to the water with all the risks of damage and breakage.  We may be the kind that gets lowered again and again into the cold, black pit to draw forth from the well of sorrows. 

We look around and wonder, What has been sown?  What is coming forth?  Where is the plan in this?  Where’s the kingdom? 

On the one hand, I believe God says, “Sit down; shut up; hang on.”  That applies more to the overall situation.  Remember the end of John’s Gospel, where Peter asks, “Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21), and Jesus replies, “…[W]hat is that to you?  You follow Me! 

Yet the Lord had just spoken to Peter of what he would do and even how he would die following his Master.  God always seems willing enough to speak with us and reveal to us those things that we need to know.  He will give us the visions and the dreams that will motivate and encourage and prepare us for the work to which we are called.  He assures, and He reassures.  He listens to us, and He responds to our cries for mercy, help, grace, and strength. 

The relationship between God and man is not one sided.  We are not merely tools in His hands, but sons and daughters working cooperatively and creatively.  I would like to think that, once in a while, maybe once in a lifetime, I might do something Good without being told to.  I think that would make God smile.