Monday, September 29, 2003

Confronting the Demons Within

(Christian Culture by Steve Schlissel)

On the multi-sentence parenthetical statement found on page 37 of Mr. Schlissel’s book, addressing the evils of dispensational theology:

It’s taken me a long time to realize how easily I can be pushed to jump up on my soap box and talk down about the evils of the Baptist-Fundamentalist faith. At the drop of a hat I could unleash the bitterness I have towards the promotion of their ignorant yet blatant promotion of heresy and hopelessness. And then, over a period of time, I realized that it was bitterness that was driving me and not any supernatural desire to change or minister to those who come from the same background. It is because of the relative newness of that discovery that I cringe when reading Schlissel. Not because he’s a bad man—I’ve met him, he’s nice—and not because he’s opinionated—for the most part he’s opinionated in all the right spots. But because I know that opinions are my weakness. I’m willing to give them out when ever I feel the need and have often gotten myself in trouble for doing so. I see the need to be quiet more often—or to at least pursue a wisdom in knowing when and how the most appropriate time and manner would be played out in broaching a “soap box” issue. I think that’s the key, because if truth is true it should be proclaimed. But it should be proclaimed with the greatest means of grace to fit the message of truth properly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Alpha and Omega

(Through New Eyes by James Jordan)

The bane of our theology is pride. When we realize that the inheritance Peter speaks of in 1Peter 1:1-12 is Christ Himself, we will let go of all the baggage we hold on to as gospel. It is not eternal life which we are to aspire, it is not freedom from pain and fear, it is not even the salvation of souls which is the essence of Christianity. It is primarily the fellowship, the relationship, the person of Jesus Christ—all else is secondary. It is all about Him, and as we journey towards that realization we see how all of, what some would call, the “benefits” of Christianity bare witness to source of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17).

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Call Jehovah

KMSC: Iraq Blog

As I prayed for Dr. Grant and the SGI team one morning, the 19th centuary words of “Call Jehovah” became a part of my intercession. I sang what little I could remember, “Call Jehovah your salvation, rest beneath th’ Almighty’s shade; in His secret habitation dwell, and never be dismayed”. From there I could recall only the hymn tune. When I got home I headed straight for my trusty hymn book, “Arrayed Before the Throne”, to pray the rest of the song on behalf of our brothers and sisters in the Servant Group team:

“From the sword at noon-day wasting,
From the noisome pestilence,
In the depth of mid-night blasting,
God shall be your sure defense:
He shall charge His angel legions
Watch and ward o’er you to keep;
Though you walk through hostile regions,
Though in desert wilds you sleep.”

Come to find out, the hymn talked about “hostile regions” and “desert wilds”.

While everyone here at King’s Meadow and in the Franklin community is earnestly petetioning for the safe return of Der and the Servant Group team, we are constantly reminded that they’ve answered a call to share the gospel in a land of oportunity. As Dr. Grant said before he left:

“Yes, it will be a difficult trip. Yes, it will be a costly trip. Yes, it will be a dangerous trip. But [we are] committed to running toward the roar. Besides, the opportunities our team has been afforded are absolutely incredible."

Come to find out, he was thinking about more than the “hostile regions” and “desert wilds”.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Catechisms and Imagery

(Through New Eyes by James Jordan)

I love quotes. I love factoids. I love it when someone can take a complex idea and put it into a memorable definition for me. I was noticing that as I read I mostly highlight the one-liners that sum up the previous paragraphs or pages I’d wrestled and trudged through. For instance, Jordan says on page 29, “We create our own worlds by generating our own worldviews.” The next thought I had after reading that was actually another quote, “People are entitled to their own opinions but their not entitled to their own facts.” Both are summations of a much larger concept or lesson. When we think solely based upon our opinions, we can create for ourselves a world apart from reality—a world apart from the truth of the facts. And thus we create our own worldview.

Jordan builds a wonderful case for how the Bible is engineered around imagery and symbolism. He states a complaint on how in the “Western world for centuries, men have assumed that the proper way to express truth is by means of abstract, philosophical language….This, however, is not how God chose to reveal Himself to us.” He goes on to say that the Bible is filled with “stories, histories, poems, symbols, parables, and the like”. Jordan does affirm that such an idea is “equally as important as abstract philosophizing”, so that means he believes that philosophizing has its place and use, right? I don’t know, because the next paragraph down Jordan, talks about catechisms:

“Notice, for instance, the way in which our confessions of faith and catechisms are written. They are virtually devoid of imagery. Solomon wrote Proverbs to instruct youth, but for centuries Christians have used catechisms that consist basically of definitions of terms: What is justification; what is prayer; what is the meaning of the fourth petition; etc. The contrast of approach is quite startling.”

Don’t catechisms have their place? Certainly they can be misused, but can’t they just as easily be properly utilized as a launching pad for greater spiritual truths. Catechisms and confessions are the grammar of the faith. They are the building blocks upon Christians have come to a better understanding of the broader, richer pictures of the gospel.

I love quotes. I love factoids. I love it when someone can take a complex idea and put it into a memorable definition for me.

Friday, September 19, 2003

The Opportunities Outweigh the Needs

KMSC: Iraq Blog

“All is well here.”

It’s pretty overwhelming to come into contact with fresh and enlivened faith. For Dr. Grant and the Servant Group team it has been encouraging to witness such enthusiasm. The parents and teachers of the classical schools have searched so long for some kind of hope to offer their children and now that it has found them, they’ve become enlivened with new meaning and have been instilled with fresh vision.

The team continues to work along side school administrators to train teachers and compile curriculum. Everyone’s excited to see the what change and growth the coming days will bring:

“The needs here are great. But the opportunities are even greater. I am so grateful we've had the chance to do this. Just keep praying for our safety. It is a pretty hairy place!”

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Run Toward the Roar Update

KMSC: Iraq Blog

Due largely to the prayers of saints across the globe, Dr. Grant and the Servant Group team have made it safely to their first destination. Continue to pray for wisdom as the team pursues the various ministry opportunities before them. Thus far they’ve been able to encourage and fellowship with other missionaries in the region, and have brought a renewed sense of vision for what the gospel can do to change hearts in the coming days. The team’s goal is echoed in Dr. Grant’s vision: “I wholeheartedly believe such Kingdom-building efforts in Iraq will ultimately outweigh even the most momentous political and military maneuverings. I am honored to help serve our brothers and sisters in Iraq as they grow in grace and as they faithfully persevere in the face of staggering opposition forces.”

Monday, September 15, 2003

Rough-rough Draft-draft Sketch-sketch

Six Week Study of Islam

*Six weeks
*Five days a week
*Six lessons
*Five sections a week

*1st lesson—introduction and overview
*2nd thru 6th lessons—Five Pillars of Islam

*Perspective: the devil has no stories
*Borrowed/twisted Jewish and Christian ideas
*Through New Eyes

*For American teenagers

The Five Pillars of Submission:

Shahada—the profession of faith—“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet”—to be offered daily by every Muslim

Salat—the five-times-daily Rakatin prayer and worship of the Muslim

Zakat—the pious Muslim discipline of almsgiving and the disposition of property

Haj—the once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca every Muslim must take

Saum—the daytime fasting (from all food and drink) ritual of a Muslim during the month of Ramadan

“Anyone who kept them was a faithful Umma, a true believer. Anyone who did not was a Kafir, an infidel. Such a straightforward standard of works-righteousness made the life of faith an extraordinarily simple, quantifiable, and mechanical process.”—Grant, Blood of the Moon, pg 43

In Islam, salvation is attainable through human agency. There is no real comprehension of the Fall. In Christianity, redemption must be attained apart from an individual’s feeble attempts. Such salvation is found in the person of Christ.

The three words of the gospel: guilt, want, substitution. (Martin Luther)

Ayatollah Khomeini’s quote on pg 123 of Blood

Lesson #1: Fake mountain top experience, fake name, moving east, all pointing back to man’s inherent, though possibly unconscious, longing to abide on the hill of the Most High.
-->From Pillar to Post—the idea of either the ten commandments or the ten thousand commandments; the idea of Islam’s five pillars to Christianity’s one post—the substitutionary cross of Christ and the call of God’s elect to live as servants (doulas)

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Babel and Evil: Maximum Maturation

Creation by Jordan

We’ve talked a bit about wheat and tares in classes, and how good and evil grow side by side until the day that the harvest is reaped—at which point the tares will wither into unsubstantive nothingness. There was another maturation idea that I was trying to think through which was brought up by Jordan in Creation. It had to do with how much Adam and Eve knew in the beginning. For instance, we know that bread and wine were not around until the time of Noah. Is that a picture of not only the growth of the fruit of the earth but in knowledge of husbandry? The creation was not prefabricated. It had to mature into the cycles of growth brought on by the tending of man through the seasons of sowing and reaping.

Secondly, how advanced was language at creation. Did mankind start out with oral traditions, and where, when, and how did writing begin. It couldn’t have begun with Moses because hundred of years of history would have been left to the telephone method. There must have been some written records that were compiled and edited to make the canonical Genesis account.

So, if mankind had to mature in the areas of gardening and social development, after the fall there was plenty of room to mature in the area of sin and evil. Man’s imagination had the opportunity to come up with all kinds of engineering, entrepreneurial, and inventive advancements while at the same time crafting perverse, profane, and odious wickedness.

With the Babel debacle came God’s acknowledgement that evil had reached its greatest height yet. Genesis 11:6 says of the attempt to rebel against name, calling, and place,

“…and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.”

To what point in mankind’s maturity do the words of Solomon first adhere? “There is nothing new under the sun.” Is it at Babel? Is that the point at which everything that could be done had been done and then became about perfection rather than discovery? Is all maturity now just a variation on a theme until the day that the wheat and tares are separated?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Ride Your Pony

“Before Eve noticed that the fruit was good, she had already, sinfully, begun to distrust God’s goodness.” —Peter Leithart, Heroes, pg. 58

“Your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks,” or so the old saying goes. “When we think,” says E.F. Schumacher, “we do not just think: we think with ideas” (Sire, How to Read Slowly, pg.14). And as we have seen, “ideas have consequences.”

It is a proven fact that Matthew was right when he said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (12:34). We mull over things before we say them. We hold councils, debate imaginary people, or argue with those who have done us wrong all before opening our mouths. Ideas, beliefs, prejudices will manifest themselves in some way unless the heart is dealt with first. We will never be able to truly repent until we can see that surface sins have roots. It’s that one vulnerable moment when we allow ourselves to believe that God’s not moving quickly enough or in the right direction so we must be commissioned to take charge. We run headfirst into the twin sins of pride and unbelief. Taking such a plunge in no way diminishes the sovereignty or deity of God as eternal truth, but the acknowledgment within our own hearts manifests our disbelief in His authority by the consequences of such an idea.

What we say and what we do may be two different things. But it is the maturation and correlation of practice and principle that is the spiritual journey towards a right understanding of God’s sovereignty.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Angels and Man

Milton, SS Class, etc.

Angels are messengers, guardians, worship leaders, and judgment callers. They are sent from God to announce the births of Isaac, Samson, John the Baptist, and Jesus. They are the protectors of God’s holiness from the arc of the covenant to His mercy seat enthroned in heaven. They are the heavenly host—the worship leaders proclaiming the glory and mercy of God within the inner sanctuary of heaven. They pronounce God’s judgment upon the proud, rebellious kings of the earth. But the Bible speaks of another group of angels—mankind—given a specific role to play that even the heavenly hosts have no mandate to fulfill—the proclamation of the gospel.

1 Peter 1:10-12 gives explanation for these equally heaven-sent messengers:

"Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look."

If that’s not purpose, I don’t know what is. The grace that has been extended to believers transforms the Christian into a vessel of grace—a messenger in word and deed through which the world may come to that same redemptive grace of the gospel.