Archive for the ‘Theological Thoughts’ Category

Life has changed dramatically for Becki and me with the arrival of our firstborn son on Feb 17th. Time has sped up. The last four almost five months have been a blur. If I thought we had a laundry monster living in our house dispensing mounds of contaminated clothes before, I was sadly mistaken! How can one little baby produce so much dirty laundry?! I now know special meanings for and have poignant memories of the words “latch”, “frenectomy”, “rash”, and “spit-up”! In this flurry of laundry and learning, this new stage in our lives, Scripture has come alive as God has answered prayers and provided for us over and over again.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_6d62Since arriving home from the hospital, we have discovered that all of our furniture is not conducive to baby feedings and snugglings. We did some recon research and set our sites on a glider at Babies R Us. Distressed wood, charcoal gray padding, locking mechanism, it screamed us. If we opened a credit card there we would save 10% which meant a nice savings based on the size of the price tag. We loaded our family into our mini-van (strange for this new daddy to type that phrase!) to buy our prize. As we pulled out, I prayed that God would guide us and give us favor. We were greeted at the store by a sign saying instead of 10% the discount was 30% for the day before and the day we arrived.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_6d63Ephesians 3:20 Amplified, “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us”

Psalm 37:23 King James Version, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way”

Two weeks ago, completely out of the blue, Regions bank sent us a large check in the mail to refund overpayment into our house’s escrow account. This was my first time hearing of or seeing a check like that. A week later I woke up with a random tooth ache. The next day my dentist told me I needed a root canal (props to the strength of that decay to wreck such havoc as to cause a root canal in one day’s worth of pain). I believe God knew we would have the expense of a root canal so He put things into motion well before we knew to get a large refund check in our hands right before being told.

Isaiah 64:24, “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”

God is good. God is powerful. God is able. God is faithful. God is love. God is omniscient. Etc. Etc. It has thrilled me to watch Him demonstrate His attributes on the stage of our growing family. Put your trust fully in Him and watch what He can do on the state of your life.

Advertisements

If the Bible is all about Jesus, our lives should be, too.

For the past few months, I have been working on a course called A Study in the Book of Hebrews. Last weekend I pounded out a twelve page research paper entitled Contribution of the Book of Hebrews to our Understanding of Christ in the New Testament. Sounds technical, maybe like reading a phone book, huh? I began the paper with the following:

The Bible is a single work made up of sixty-six different books penned by at least thirty-nine authors over a period of 1500 years (Christadelphians 2015, under “A Divine Library” para. 2). Such an impressively large work could easily cover an equally impressive amount of topics. In Jesus in all the Books of the Bible, Iain Gordon and Brett Wilton (2016) explain, “The Bible is about Jesus. He is pictured or prophesied about in each of the 66 Bible books” (main chart). W.A. Criswell (2014) in his book The Scarlet Thread through the Bible takes it farther by illustrating, “There is a scarlet thread that runs throughout the Bible and it is the binding that holds the pages of the Scripture together. That great scarlet thread is redemption through Jesus Christ” (49).

I go on to say the threads of Christ that run throughout the Bible converge at a crossroad in Hebrews, where the author weaves thought threads similar and unique to other New Testament authors together to form a marvelous portrait of Christ. At this point of transition in the paper, a different, personal angle hit me. The entire Bible, cover to cover, is about Jesus either in overt ways like the Gospels or subtle ways like allusions to Him in the Pentateuch. I can picture a proud Father God crafting all of human history and infusing the Scriptures with Jesus, saying, “It’s all about my Son.” If God is our example, our benchmark, our standard, and he makes everything about His Son, shouldn’t we as believers make everything about His Son, too? Unless we are called to, I don’t mean abandoning our earthly possessions and turning to a life of monasticism in a mountain cave (monk-hood). I do mean that our lives in overt ways (our social life, events we attend, things we say, work ethic, etc.) and subtle ways (family life, how we spend our free time, our thought life, etc.) should all point to Jesus.
I can be an example of how Jesus Himself would act at my “secular” job. I can attend church and volunteer in ministry as Christ would. I can welcome foster children who need a safe and secure place to stay into our home like my Savior would. I can be a husband, brother, son, and father, like the Lord would. I can relax and have fun with my family and friends like my Best Friend did after creating the world in six days. I want my life to be Christ centered so that a total stranger could be able to follow me through a normal day with full access to my outward life and inward self and see Jesus overtly and subtly. As Christians, we are called to nothing less.

REFERENCE LIST

Christadelphians. 2015. The Miracle of the Bible. Accessed February 15, 2016. http://www.thisisyourbible.com/index.php?page=library&task=show&mediaid=149

Criswell, W. A. 2014. The Scarlet Thread Throughout The Bible. Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press.

Gordon, Ian, and Brett Wilton. 2016. Jesus in all the Books of the Bible. Accessed February 15, 2016. http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/jesus66books.htm

Weight. Age. Income. These are private issues people commonly reserve for conversations behind closed doors. My relationship with Jesus has been a fourth issue. In ministry roles or in church settings, where it’s normal and expected, I’m comfortable discussing but in everyday life it’s another story.
My uncle’s father passed away a few weeks ago. Becki and I went to Bogalusa, LA, to attend the funeral. It is a quaint town that reminded me of stepping onto a real life Andy Griffith Mayberry set. My uncle led the funeral and different family members contributed. Toward the end, he shared a brief message of anecdotes and spiritual encouragement.
I can’t remember a thing he said but I do recall how naturally and conversationally he spoke about his relationship with Jesus. Instead of being a one-time act on a Mayberry funeral stage, it lined up with the rest of his daily life that I have observed. It’s not a forced facade. It is a large and genuine part of his life that naturally outflows to his daily conversations.
It challenged me. I want my walk with Christ to be a natural conversation piece in my daily life. “We’re trusting God in this area,” “let’s pray together for that,” “this morning I read in the Bible . . .,” “Jesus led us to do … ,” etc.. I don’t want it to be a forced act but instead a natural outflow.
I do insurance customer service / sales on the phone. While helping a lady I found out she had surgery scheduled for later in the week. After taking care of her insurance needs, I told her I was a Christian and I’d be praying for her. Honestly, it felt a little awkward but right and good. She was genuinely thankful and following the call I talked to Jesus about her. Steps in the right direction.
Deuteronomy 6 NLT, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Relationship (vs. 5) naturally flows to everyday life (vs. 7-9).

My wife attends the University of West Florida. As a student card carrier (nautilus card), she has complimentary access to the UWF Fitness Center. This is a sprawling complex, a candy store (or should I say a fruit and veggie stand) for fit and becoming fit people. Amenities include basketball courts, locker rooms, exercise machines, free weights, cardio machines (including scary stair climbers – my calves shake in fear), and climbing walls. Becki has free access because she has a student card.

Climbing Wall at UWF Fitness Center

Climbing Wall at UWF Fitness Center

Gym On at UWF Fitness Center

Gym On at UWF Fitness Center

In January, we paid for me to join (perk of being married to a very cute Argonaut).  My wallet now holds a nautilus guest card and I have access to the candy (or fruit and veggies). I take full advantage, usually visiting twice a week to get my gym on. When I approach the check-in gate a twinge of panic presents itself because I’m not a student and I don’t feel like I should be walking in with students. Then, I pull out my nautilus card, swipe it through the id scanner and sashay in. Panic passes and confidence comes. I have access because I paid for a guest card.

A place exists infinitely greater than my new fitness center. This place is not greater because of its amenities but because of its occupant. This occupant is the source of all things, ruling the cosmos with absolute authority and plenary power while being the very definition of love. This occupant is God Almighty and this great place is His throne room. An insignificant speck of dust like me has no business entertaining thoughts of seeing this great place let alone entering. Forget panic, that is pure poppycock. Jesus Chris, God’s Son, paid for me to have a card called salvation that grants me access. By accepting the gift of this card, not only am I granted access to this great place but also into this great God’s family. Every time I pray, I can confidently come in and call God Almighty my heavenly Father. I have access because Jesus paid for a son card.

Hebrews 4:16 (NASB) Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6e/Skittles-Wild-Berry-Wrapper-Small.jpg

I like candy, normally dark chocolate but occasionally I’ll branch out and go for Skittles, especially in purple bags. When I pop them into my mouth, I struggle to know if I should chomp them up or suck them dry. If I chomp them up, my taste buds get instant gratification and my instinct to chew is pacified. If I suck them dry, the flavors are allowed to linger in my mouth and self control triumphs over instinct. The Skittles struggle is real.

Often, I approach God’s word with a similar struggle. When I open my Bible (usually my Bible app nowadays), I struggle to know if I should chomp passages up or suck them dry of meaning by taking the time to consider each concept. If I chomp them, my spiritual taste buds are tickled and my sense of ritualistic duty is satisfied. If I suck them dry, the concepts linger in my spirit and my relationship with God is strengthened. Well, I know I should suck but far too often I chomp.

Take John 3:16 for wpid-Photo-Dec-8-2012-445-PMexample. The reference can be seen in a variety of places – under Tim Tebow’s eyes, church signs, t-shirts and even in a Star Wars parody (which is awesome). When I was in Bible college, I did some street evangelism and met a man drunk as a skunk (I wonder where that expression came from) who quoted John 3:16 to me. The vast majority of Americans have chomped on John 3:16, but how many have sucked it dry?

John 3:16 is an external example, but what about you and me? Do we give in and chomp our way through scriptures or do we suck them dry? Too often I settle for chomping. With the Lord’s help, I will suck!

Matthew 5:18 ESV, For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

A few weeks back I accompanied my wife to her UWF campus (she was a PSC Pirate but now she’s a UWF ARGonaut) so she could attend a teaching meeting and I could hit up the gym. We were on time for her meeting but an hour early for the gym. So, I decided to run, well actually jog but I like to think of it as running, on the campus.

UWF Nature Trail

UWF Nature Trail

I ended up on a nature trail that snakes its way through thick forest areas of the campus. At one point I was completely submerged in forest behind and in front. I felt absolutely alone. A snake in the leaves by the path and a frolicking squirrel were the extend of the animal life I had seen, but I imagined a more ferocious creature bounding out of the forest with a fancy for some Joshua flesh (yes, a little extreme but it sounds good). That thought didn’t help the aloneness I felt.

At that moment Someone else joined me on the trail, not visible with my human eyes but certainly with my senses. I felt an ancient, confident, powerful authority surround me and at the same time a soothing, reassuring, calming peace settle me. I felt the words, “This is a son of God,” echo around me. God my Father, the creator of that UWF walking trail forest and every creature big and small in it, made himself known. I felt His loving ownership over me. I felt His authority and peace.

Then, as if waking from a dream, I snapped back to “reality”.

Psalm 139:5 NASB, “You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me”

Psalm 139:5 The Message Paraphrase, “I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence, coming and going”

Luke 4:41 (NIV), “Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.”

This passage and others like it boggle my brain. Jesus was the Messiah (Savior), the Son of God. Why silence a public declaration of the truth about himself. Well, I guess if a demon said I am the greatest Crossy Road player in the world I would want to silence it since demons are notorious liars.

Okay, but because He was the Messiah, Jesus healed and yet He told some He healed not to tell anyone. At one point, a group of people wanted to make Him king but He snuck away to the mountains. It’s difficult to make someone a king if they can’t be found!

Some background is necessary to understand Jesus’ seeming madness.

The people of Jesus’ day read the Old Testament and expected the Messiah to overthrow the Roman government and become a political ruler. They longed for the days of domination and prosperity under King David and Solomon. For anyone to be called a Messiah would illicit these thoughts.

Jesus came with a much different paradigm on Messiahship. For Jesus, the Messiah would not rule over people politically but instead give Himself up for the world in selfless sacrifice. Along the way, Jesus invited others to join Him. Jesus wanted to redefine what being a Messiah truly meant His own way and He didn’t want demons or people putting Him in a box.

For the most part, the people of Jesus’ day said, “No thank you.” They wanted THEIR Messiah not THE Messiah. They wanted to accept a Messiah on their own terms not God’s. Thankfully, a small band of disciples did accept the Messiah and the movement grew from there to encompass Jews and Gentiles a like.

I think many do the same today. It’s easy to put the Messiah in a box of our own terms. We want a God who will give forgiveness without lordship and grant fancies without loyalty. This type of Messiah is often declared in today’s world. That is a far cry from the path Jesus took.

If Jesus walked the streets of today, I wonder if He would silence demons who called Him “Savior” again?

Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”.

I choose to follow Jesus as THE Messiah today. Will you join me?

Sources:

McClaflin, Mike. 2013. The Life of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels An Independent Study Textbook. Fourth Edition. Springfield, MO: Global University.

Stein, Robert H. 1996. Jesus the Messiah: A Survey of the Life of Christ. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

Becki, my mom and I lined up at the brand new Chickfila on Navy Blvd early Wednesday and camped out for 24 hours up until the grand opening Thursday. We had lots of fun and earned free Chickfila for a year!

All of us Wednesday morning

All of us Wednesday morning

Becki, Figment and me

Becki, Figment and me

Our camp site

Our camp site

Grand Opening in 1 Day

Grand Opening in 1 Day

We won!

We won!

On a few occasions people driving by bellowed out of their vehicles, “Get a job!” One person in particular showed off his hand dexterity by holding only his middle finger up while shouting. Maybe that’s an acceptable greeting on his home planet but not around here!  It offended me. It angered me. It made me think those people are ignorant and rude.

I happen to have a job and took a vacation day to be at the camp out.  They were reacting to the situation without knowing me or my life at all.  And, if any of them profess to be Christians, I think their gospel is complete poison.

The Lord turned the situation around on me. How often do I do the same thing by judging situations and people in my life without knowing the people or their lives first. It’s so easy to think homeless people are bums who need to get jobs, to criticize and condemn politicians, to look down on those without Jesus as they do wrong things, etc. When I do, I’m no better than the guy who flicked me off at Chickfila. My Christian example is shot and I’m causing offense and anger.

With the Lord’s help, never again!

Parents Outside Theater

Parents Outside Theater

Recently Becki, my parents and I watched Noah at a local theater. We went into it not looking for a Biblically accurate account but instead hoping to be entertained, and we were not disappointed. Afterwards, as I pondered the movie, I realized that I am Noah.

Humanity had become completely corrupt except for righteous Noah. God decided to pour out His wrath as a ferocious flood. God called Noah to build an ark out of gopherwood. Humanity bore God’s wrath and drowned while Noah and his family were saved to start again.

Humanity (including me) became completely corrupt again except for sinless Jesus. God decided to pour out His wrath as death. God called Jesus to build an ark out of the wood from His own Roman crucifixion cross. Jesus bore God’s wrath and died while humanity and I were offered a chance to be saved to start again.

Because of Jesus I am Noah!

Sunrise Prayer Jog Selfie

Sunrise Prayer Jog Selfie

Recently my wife and I vacationed in Daytona Beach. I would be starting a morning shift at Regions bank upon returning home (a very different environment from church work), so we decided to get up early during vacation to prepare my body. I leveraged that time to take sunrise prayer jogs along the beach.

During my jogs the tide would be going out dramatically (a fifty yard difference or more from high tide), leaving behind a thin sheen of water on the beach and a host of jellyfish stuck in it. Apparently, during evening high tide the jellyfish drifted far up on the beach and as the tide ebbed out they would linger and get stuck.

Beached Jellyfish

Beached Jellyfish

Seeing the scene, I thought of myself as a jellyfish in life, following the Lord into the world and reaching out to those in sin. If I’m the one influencing those in sin, I picture myself being far up on the beach during high tide. If I become influenced by and settled into sin myself, I imagine the tide ebbing away and myself lingering far up on the beach. Before I know it, the Lord’s Presence has gone out to sea but I’m left helplessly stuck on the beach.

Going into a ‘secular’ job at Regions this thought is key. I feel called by God to be at Regions at this point in my life. I have followed Him onto the bank ‘beach’ and I need to follow the Spirit’s lead in reaching out to those stuck in sin while not getting stuck myself.

Genesis 13:12 NIV, “Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom”