Monday, October 31, 2005

Reminder to Remember

Experience can only inform us of the past. It tells what has been—but we need another informant besides memory to assure us of what is to be. Experience tells us of the past constancy of nature—but experience alone or memory
alone can give no intimation of its future constancy. This irresistible persuasion comes to us from another quarter. It forms a distinct principle in the frame or workmanship of our intellectual system. It is a befitting theme of gratitude and wonder
that this instinctive faith from within, should be responded to by the unexpected fulfillment of Nature’s actual and abiding constancy from without. But the one is not a derivative from the other. The two are in harmony—but it is a contingent harmony.

Thomas Chalmers, Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

Thanksgiving is the action, the practical application and outworking of remembrance. They go hand in hand as the manifestation of the gospel in the lives of God’s people. “Man is God’s agent for the glorification of the world" ( James Jordan, Through New Eyes). The hope of the gospel lies in the fact that the victory has already been won. Through the Incarnation, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, sin and death have indeed been swallowed up in victory. Because of His work we can proclaim with expectant joy: “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 15:54-56)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
I John 5:2, 4-5

The victory has already been won. Over and over again through out Scripture we are reminded that the spiritual skirmishes still being fought on earth are simply that—skirmishes. Reminders that the transformation and restoration of both man and creation are still being worked out. But as we have seen truth requires a response, not just a remembrance. The application of the gospel must be practical and it must be deliberately practical. It is in nature, but all too often we are overcome by the simplicity of a faith that calls us to remember and rejoice that we either suppress or embellish. The day to day remembrance of the mercies of God and the giving of thanks for such a generous means of grace as memory affords is the chief end of man.

Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them night and day before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony….
Revelation 12:11

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Plaque Verse

Psalm 23: I understand, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil". That's the part I get. The part that I'm still having trouble with is, "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me". What is it about a shepherd's rod and staff that is found to be so comforting? The rod seems like a tool of correction and the staff, well, think of has a crook at the top to rein in strays. What, pray tell, is so comforting about that? Discuss...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I've been told that I over analyze and that I'm a perfectionist. I've been told. I mean just because I think a lot about what I think about and by the time I get done with this blog I would have re-read it at least three times, just because of that must I really be labeled. I mean no one is going to know that I re-read this three times unless I tell them, right. And how will they find out that I think too much about what all I think about if it's me thinking it rather than voicing it. I mean am I that predictable? So rather than over analyzing, I'm simply going to spout off a few, not profanities because we have established that I do not in fact have the shakes as a result of turrets...a few profundities that I have recently come across or have recently re-come across.

1) Just do it.

2) Take care of yourself so that you can better take care of others.

3) Breathe in. Breathe out.

4) Eat.

5) Sleep.

6) Repeat.

Why does life have to be so complicated, those seem to be the basics. Why can't we all just stick to those? Oh, and...

7) Keep it simple.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Church

I have often questioned the purpose of church membership. Is it biblical? Is it necessary? Having been a part of a good number of failing--and often brutal--church situations in the course of my young life, I have grown quite skeptical of the institution that is supposed to unify the Bride of Christ. I have always thought it looked more like a custody battle than a functioning marriage. Why would I want to be a part of something like that? Why would I make myself accountable to an entity that I feel has it less together than I do? I mean, at least I know I am messed up! For that purpose I have never willingly joined a church until this past summer. Apart from the fact that I could not allow my parents to join before me the church they had been going to for a matter of months and I for 4 years, it had simply taken me that long to sit back and make some needed observations before I took the step of membership:

1) There are no perfect churches. I hated that statement for ever so long because I knew that deep down. But it took time for me to realize that the church is made up of people--fallible, opinionated, often undependable people. And to think that God realized that when He made the church His primary means for the propagation of the gospel! I had to see and experience that for myself. To watch those in leadership wrestle with what is good, true, and right, making tough decisions and only occasionally seeing the fruit of well invested endeavors. People are messy. The church is made up of people. The church is messy.

2) Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. While the charge given to believers before Christ's ascension back to Heaven is one that is to be taken with no little amount of trepidation and a great deal of diligence, it is at the same time not a charge that carries with it 14 points that are the letter of the law. The simplicity of Christ's last words often baffle us into an unneeded attempt to clarify and adhere strictly and literally. Just as the dying wish of a loved one or the parting words of a far away friend leave us eager and willing to jump to the task they request as a sign of your resolute dedication and love, we are often over eager to get to the task of the Christ's charge before we look at the purpose of it. Christ simply wanted us to work out our faith in the ordinary affairs of life, being deliberate to apply the gospel to every area, from washing dishes to counseling friends, from planting gardens to writing books, raising children to preaching sermons. Though it is a seeming paradox, we are to constantly be living in light of the fact that "to whom much is given much is required", and yet not to so overannalyze that fact that we are so heavenly minded we do the earth absolutely no good, thus taking ourselves too seriously. Be yourself in light of who you are in Christ.

3) The church is the only perpetually defeated thing that has always survived its conquerors. Despite the problems, despite the people, despite the continual onslaught from within and without, the church is still the church. So basically it really does not matter what I think about church membership or what I think about the role the church is to play in God's plan for the gospel, because the church has out lived the expectations of those who have gone before, it will out live my own expectations, and will continue on past those who come after. Obviously God is so all-fire determined to work with people, despite how I feel to the contrary. Stop trying to psycho-analyze the problems of "them" and take a look at those within.

The past few years I have heard repeatedly the statement "the church is God's plan A and there is no plan B". While I still find myself on occasion responding with a non-verbal "prove it", I think that I am a lot closer to understanding why. Unfortunately I am not called to be an island unto myself in my little ivory tower, however much I would wish otherwise, nor is anyone else called to that. God has left us on earth to fulfill that last wish: to do all things in His Name, including working with imperfect people. Because if that can happen, however inharmoniously at times, there is really no stopping that perpetually defeated thing, that limp-along institution known effectually as the church.

Monday, October 10, 2005

What If?

Life could have been so very different. I haven't even reached the quarter-century mark and I've already found myself wondering in spare moments or during random remembrances, what if? I've heard that hind sight is always 20/20. While I'm not sure that it's that perfect, I can recall strategic points in the past that have been marked by drastic decisions. The ironic thing is, most of them didn't seem so drastic at the time. It's kind of funny how the poured over and the wrestled with seem to fade with time while the day-to-day and the simplistic tend to make the most profound change.

There have been very few times in my life that I've recognized a mile marker as a mile marker when it was planted. Most of the time it was more like little yard-sale signs along back roads that gave direction as opposed to towering bill-boards aside major highways. I didn't know what I was doing then, but looking back I can see at what point I decided to take the road less traveled. And boy, has it made all the difference.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Common Quotes

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.
—Henry Ward Beecher

Things which restrict the common are to be interpreted rigidly.
—Latin Proverb

The miracles of nature do not seem miracles because they are so common. If no one had ever seen a flower, even a dandelion would be the most startling event in the world.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Nature of It

There's something about the recognition of personal sin that either makes one a quick repenter or an even quicker judge. When your own sin is revealed in all of its ugliness or when revelation is brought about by the judgments of others, it's easy to see those same faults in your accusers. When people judge unrighteously they do so in order to cover or diminish the sins of their own hearts--all is put aright because they have found a target for their guilt and are thus relieved.

"But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world." I Corinthians 11:31-32