April 26, 2010
Today I read a portion of Mark 14 and was so struck by verse 26, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives,” that I could read no further. I closed my Bible and jotted down these thoughts:
Him to whom
Every song is sung,
Hymning and praising,
and soon to be hung.
Joined in, that melodious, motley rank,
full of treachery and thanks,
like stones being slung,
rang the tongues of everyone
Mark does not tell us whether or not Judas was present for the singing or whether he had already left. But Jesus–having just informed them of his betrayal, and offering them the broken bread and the poured out wine of the new covenant–sings. And he sings knowing that every one of them would betray him that night.
Little is said in the NT about hymnity. Acts 16:25 tells us that Paul and Silas sung hymns to God in their gloomy prison cell.
There’s nothing wrong with scheduled, regular singing. But there’s nothing in all the world like spontaneous, urgent song welling up to God in the face of bleakness.
Oh, and by the way, we are told to sing and make melody in our hearts to God as well (Eph 5, Col 3).
April 25, 2010
“Whatever they were means nothing to me” (Gal 2:6).
Paul cared nothing about a man’s status, and only about his position in Christ. He gave no special preference to lofty apostleship, but in fact rebuked Peter –PETER– to his face (Gal 2:11). Before important men, Paul harped about God not judging by external appearance (Gal 2:6). Paul wore no special name tag identifying his rank or credentials.
Having such an attitude, Paul could write, “You are all sons of God…There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ” (Gal 3:26,28).
With such a view, Paul said, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God? Or am I trying to please men? It it were so, I would not be a servant of Jesus” (Gal 1:10).
With such conviction about the unimportance of position, Paul could instruct, “Brothers…you must gently restore the one taken in by sin” (Gal 6:1).
Surely no title in our day compares to the one Peter deserved, yet even his position as apostle was trumped by his status brother. Peter, the rock, the Lord’s right hand man, the one who walked on water, the speaker at Pentecost, the witness at the tomb, the one in the garden, the one at the last supper–Peter the Apostle–”What they are means nothing to me.”
Surely no title in our day approaches that of Apostle. If such a rank held little weight in Paul’s eyes, what do our man-made ones now hold? Christ’s priorities are so opposite than the world’s, so backwards. Maybe my viewpoints needs some recalibration in light of God’s word.
April 25, 2010
Sophie, my black lab, faithfully held down the fort today while I was gone, as she always does. When I leave, she has no idea where I’m going or when I’ll be back. But one thing she’s sure of: sooner or later, I’ll be home. And when I return home and open the door, there’s always an eager pup with tail wagging and warm greetings. In fact, she usually sits looking out the window so she can see me long before I’m home, while I’m still driving down the road. Then as I pull in the driveway, I can hear inside yelping excitedly as she bounds to greet me at the door.
Tonight as I thought about this I wondered: am I as excited as Sophie about my master’s return? May I keep a weathered eye on his coming, knowing for sure that sooner or later he’ll be back.
April 25, 2010
Jonathan has been preaching through some of Jesus’ parables. Speaking about the parable of the soils, he said that the Christian faith is a fruit bearing plant. “If what you have seems to be a plant, but it’s not producing fruit, I don’t know what you have, but it’s not Christianity!” he said. And last weeks message was about the Good Samaritan. The Pharisee inquiring, “Who’s my neighbor?” asked the wrong question. Rather, Jesus taught that we should ask, “What kind of neighbor am I?”
With this in mind, I have been praying for opportunities to be a doer. Tonight on my way home from work I noticed a moving truck sitting outside my neighbor’s, who is a divorced woman. I wondered if she might need some help. The last thing I felt like doing was helping out after a long day. As I prepared my dinner, I kept feeling like I should go offer my assistance. So I went and simply asked her if she might be in need. Her response: “I’ve got things lined up, but thanks for being a good neighbor!”
April 24, 2010
Recently, a friend was discussing Beth Moore, the popular women’s Bible-study teacher and author. I won’t give you all the ins and outs of our brief conversation, nor do I want to discuss women functioning as teachers. One comment made by my friend yesterday, however, caught my attention. He jokingly said,
“These women are getting together, eagerly studying the word, anticipating their next study, doing their homework throughout the week. And when they finish one study, they begin another. What I want to know is: Isn’t it time to get out and do–to put to practice what they’re studying? I mean, Beth Moore studies are great, but, Women, what about going out and living what you’ve learned?”
Now, with all due respect, I think that is a little unfair. Since when do evangelical Christians treat an eloquent, influential, big name speaker that way? When was the last time anyone said to _____, “Um, we’d like a break from your teaching so we can go out and apply it.” Or, to be more blunt, we have our Sunday morning small groups, our Sunday morning sermons, our Wednesday night Bible studies, yet Beth Moore needs to stop teaching so we can go and do? If you’re worried about an unbalanced, teaching prone Christianity, the problems are much deeper than some women’s Bible studies, my friend.
April 24, 2010
Can I tell you how thrilled I am right now to have my hands on McCartney’s commentary on James from the Baker Exegetical series! The book was published in 2009, the library had it on the shelves, and I am only the third to check it out. Be expecting a review here in the not so distant future.
One of the key areas of discussion related to this epistle is always its “conflict” with Pauline theology. McCartney writes:
“Luther’s own theology is closer to James than he perhaps realized. In his preface to Romans he declares that real faith is ‘a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith…it is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. It never asks whether good works are to be done; it has done them before the question can be asked, and is always doing them. Whoever does not do such works is an unbeliever…Thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire” (McCartney, 1).
Doesn’t this just make the whole discussion of “conflict” between Paul and James irrelevant? Maybe Luther was having a couple bad days when he read James.
April 24, 2010
Hannah-Joy left for Georgia this morning. She’ll be playing the piano in a wedding for one of her best friends from college. Sending her off on her own was really hard, but there was no way I could get the time off work. So for the next few days it’ll be just Soph and me. A couple of people have jokingly asked me if I plan on having a wild time while she’s gone, and I respond, “Yes, if by wild you mean lots of reading, writing, and walking–when I’m not working.”
Oh, don’t tell HJ, but I’m planning on surprising her when she gets back. She didn’t have time to clean the house before leaving, so I’m planning on getting things spick and span. Shhh, it’s our secret.
April 22, 2010
Have you ever noticed that bloggers tend to have an introspective side, especially when it comes to their personal blog? Let’s face it, it’s only normal to be concerned with your blog and the various aspects involved in its maintenance.
What I’m curious to discover in this blog, however, is your personal reading of other blogs. Now, I’m not so much interested in finding out which blogs out there are the best–I think Eric Carpenter accurately has done so for us–nor about which ones you check out most frequently. I simply want to know, “As a blogger, what amount of your ‘blogging’ time is devoted to reading the blogs of others?”
I think it’s safe to say that this is an important aspect of blogging. We all need our examples, those who model what a good blog should be. To be a good blogger, it’s also important to find out what others are writing about and what’s going on, you know, what topics are hot at the moment.
And every blogger knows about blog-block, that ancient question, “What should I write about?” Personally when I start feeling this way I make it a point more than ever to read others blogs. Often that will trigger an idea, and even if it doesn’t, I can still be blogging by contributing more to others than to mine at the moment.
So, back to my original question… How much do you read others blogs? I’ll be the first to answer. I find I can only keep up with about 5, maybe 6 blogs. Most of these are personal friends. As far as how much time I devote to reading others blogs compared to writing my own, it depends. Some days 50/50, some days 80/20, some days 20/80. I know some read large amounts of others writings, I simply can’t do it and still have time to write my own blog.
April 22, 2010
“God just brought you to my mind today and you’ve been on my heart. Thought I’d let you know.”
A fellow class-mate spoke these words to me yesterday. I felt both humbled and encouraged. What a joy to be a part of the body of Christ! The amazing thing to me about his praying for me is that I hardly know him. We don’t really sit next to each other in class, just kind of say “hi” to each other in passing. But his simple words exemplified love-in-action, and challenged me to ask myself, “Now, who around me can I do the same for?”
April 21, 2010
This may be old news, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.
The turmoil caused by the recent volcano is having an unforseen impact on organ donations. According to one article, organs –which are normally transported by air–were stuck en-route. So, rather than letting good organs go bad, they were delivered to patients within driving distance of the grounded planes. “Hearts, lungs and livers, which are normally transported by air, are now delivered regionally and by ground travel,” said Nadine Koerner, a spokeswoman for the German Foundation for Organ Transplant.
Perhaps we’ll never know, but maybe, just maybe, a sovereign hand used airline interruptions to surprise some ill and hopeless with new hearts.
Can you imagine, you hear a knock on your door, and find it’s an organ. “Sir, you’re being given this because of the volcano. It was on its way to _____, but we didn’t want to let it go bad. Just don’t expect to get so lucky next time.”