His divinity is kneaded in the clay of your humanity like one bread

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Word come to man

‘They spoke the word of God with boldness’ (Acts 4:31), ‘They preached the word of God in the synagogues of Judaea’ (Acts 13:5), ‘It was necessary for the word of God to be spoken to you first’ (Acts 13:46), ‘... to speak the word of God fearlessly’ (Phil 1:14), ‘the word of God is not bound’ (2 Tim 2:9), and above all, ‘The word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1:14) and ‘his name is called the word of God’ (Rev 19:13).

It is funny, if you will, how one can read the scriptures all of their life and yet miss what is, perhaps, the most important aspect of them.  Of course, for those of us who belong to Jesus Christ and witness in our lives His Holy Spirit at work, we do not really 'miss' these things so much as we lack the spiritual maturity to discern them.  In modern America, I believe, we actually strive to spend much of our time in that place which Paul names in I Cor. 13:11 as 'childish', though admittedly this is often not a conscious choice so much as it is the result of the childish culture or environment in which our Christianity is being cultivated.  We seem, or at least for me it has been this way, to see Christ as a sort of cosmic 'bandage'.  We do something wrong and we go to him to put on the 'plaster', as the English call it, kiss us and make it all better - until we do it again.  Now don't get me wrong, this is a part of the marvelous love that God has for us, that He calls us to come to him when we are hurting, when we have done something wrong, when we are weak or shamed, and He WILL make it all better.  But, and this is a large BUT, on our end these are only temporary 'fixes'.  We take our Father's love, thank Him, sing a few songs of worship, and then go out and do the same thing.  This is because we do not understand the root of sin.  We are focused on our behaviors, when we should be focused on the WORD.

God has given me a charge, or task if you will.  He has asked me to bring the story of King Josiah to His people.  A few of you who read this blog will say 'cool'.  Most of you will probably scratch your heads and head for your Bible to find out who I am talking about.  King Josiah was one of only a handful (well, that might be overstating it) of 'good' kings of Judah.  He lived and reigned in the 7th century B.C. and was an ancestor of our Lord.  Josiah was born into a culture where the word 'wickedness' was accounted a good thing.  His father, Amon, was the son of Manasseh.  According to 2 Kings 21, Manasseh, Josiah's grandfather did 'evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.'  This child, Josiah, had no hope, no worldly reason to turn out good; no chance of being anything other than the sum total of all that had gone before.  So our world would tell us.  Right?


Josiah 'did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left'. (2 Kings 22) 

With God, nothing is impossible.

Now, why did I title this blog entry 'the Word come to man'?   Due to Manasseh and Amon, the Word of God - the books of the law of Moses - were lost.  Destroyed, actually, and on purpose.  For many decades the people of Judah had to rely on oral tradition, on memory, and on what they had been told by their fathers and mothers for the Word of God.  It is clear that God preserved His Word through people, for in Josiah's tale there are people of faith who guided this young man and aided him in becoming the 'good' kind who did not turn right or left.  God raised Josiah up to destroy the high places, to eject the pagan practices from the land of Judah and from His temple, and - and here is the beautiful thing - to bring His Word back to His Chosen People.

Josiah, through God's providence, brought the Word of God back to man. 

As I research this man and the world around him, I thought I would share some of that research and my thoughts about it here.  It will get me back to blogging and hopefully, edify and educate anyone interested enough to read my humble writings.

Next time, the chosen title and why I chose it -

The Uttermost Part of Heaven: The story of good king Josiah

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Soldiers, a sailor, and why I hid from the policeman on the corner

Most of you who read this blog are old enough to know who Ernest Borgnine is.  Today, at 94, he is the oldest living actor to have received the Academy award for Best Actor (Marty 1955).  To say that Mr. Borgnine is 'salty' would be an understatement.  All one has to do is search the internet and read a few of his quotes.  One of my favorites is this:  "Everything I do has a moral to it. Yes, I've been in films that have had shootings. I made The Wild Bunch...but there was a moral behind it. The moral was that, by golly, bad guys got it. That was it. Yeah."  I have always had a special place in my heart for Mr. Borgnine because he reminds me, physically, and in many other ways, of my Dad.  My father was a 'man's man' as they used to put it.  Like Mr. Borgnine (Navy), my Dad (Army) spent many years in the service, and he had that quiet kind of strength that comes from having seen a lot of death and destruction - in fact, having seen the worst of your fellow man in many ways and coming out of it with your faith intact.

So why am I talking about Ernest Borgnine on a Christian blog?  If you are old enough to remember Mr. Borgnine, then you probably also remember the Biblical TV event of the 1970s - the first airing of Jesus of Nazareth.  The nearly 8 hour film made by Franco Zeffereli was controversial when it aired, but to me it is still one of the most beautiful depictions of Christ's life, death, and resurrection.  In it, Mr. Borgnine portrays one of my favorite characters of the Bible - the Roman Centurion who comes to Jesus to ask that his servant be healed.  The story is told in Matthew 8: 5-13 and Luke 7: 1-10

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 'Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly'.  And he said to him, 'I will come and heal him.'  But the centurion replied, 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my servant,  'Do this,' and he does it.'  When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, 'Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'  And to the centurion Jesus said, 'Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.'  And the servant was healed at that very moment.

One of the most marvelous things about the Bible is the richness of one single passage such as this.  From it sermons have been drawn addressing faith, believing without seeing, seeing without believing, and many other topics.  The other night when I watched Jesus of Nazareth and saw this scene enacted, another thought presented itself to me concerning the character of the God of the Old and New Testaments and our perception of Him. 

God is hard for us to imagine at times.  At least I know that, as a child, I had no clear picture.  Even the concept of God as 'king' is pretty far removed from our 21st century mind.  But we have all met military men.  I don't know about you, but when I turn a corner and see a sergeant - whether military or in the police force - I instantly wonder what I have done wrong.  The man has made no move, he hasn't said or done anything and yet, still, I feel convicted that I have committed some wrong - simply by his presence.  And what does that presence represent?  Unswerving, unbending, implacable justice.  I think, in a way, this is a picture of God as seen by many through the eyes of the Old Testament.  One has only to read a bit of Ezekiel or Jeremiah to become convinced that God is justice and demands complete, perfect and unerring obedience. 

Our next thought after that is often 'and I can never measure up.'

In Bible times the Roman Centurion represented much the same thing.  The Centurion was a senior officer in charge of anywhere from 83 to 100 men, and was to be 'strict in exercising and keeping up proper discipline among his soldiers'.  Not only that but he represented the might and power of Rome.  I would imagine the words 'feared' and 'respected' only begin to cover people's reaction when this man appeared on the street.  Somehow, I don't think the adjective 'approachable' was used very often.  For many, living in New Testament times, I believe this is still their image of God.  If we don't fall into the heresy of making God all-loving and all-forgiving, then we tend to think of Him as a stern taskmaster who can never be pleased.  A 'Pharaoh God' as someone once put it, who expects his followers to make bricks without straw.

But is this a correct picture of God?  No.  Let's look at the story told in Matthew and Luke again.  The appearance of a Centurion and his men in the streets of a 1st century town would have evoked fear and maybe even terror.  His word would have been law and, believe me, there were no appeals in those days.  But was the Centurion really like this?  If you examine the passage the words that come to mind to describe this particular Centurion are 'humble, loving, giving, kind' and 'faithful'.  In the same way the God of the Old Testament, whom many see as harsh and unforgiving, is more than anything else loving, giving, and kind.  And He humbled himself as we cannot conceive by coming to Earth as a man and sacrificing Himself to meet His own implacable, unbending justice in a way He knew we never could.

That, indeed, is love.

The next time I see a sergeant a I round a corner, I imagine I will still flinch and feel the need to hide, but when I do, I will think of that Roman Centurion and remember the words Christ spoke to Him upon parting: 'Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.'

Now that's a man I'd like to know.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm back

For that dozen or less of you out there who follow this blog - I am back.  2010 turned out to be quite the year, and in posts coming soon I will address how God moved in my life in a powerful and very personal way to bring about changes in me, changes in those around me, and to answer my prayers.  Now before you think, gee, things like that never happen to me or, my prayers haven't been answered know this - some of these answers have been twenty years in coming.  I want to use this blog to look at some of the men and women in the Bible who had to wait for God, and at the profound ways in which they were used when at last they were called, as well as to look at the ways in which God uses 'bad' to accomplish good in our lives.  Our Lord and God does not create or instigate evil, but He graciously and mercifully uses our choices for evil for our ultimate good. 

Today, I just wanted to say 'hi' and 'I'm back.'  The other words I will leave to Pastor Greg Laurie.  I am cross-posting his blog entry from today.  If you are touched by his words and God given wisdom, please take a look at his webpage: http://www.harvest.org/ and think about becoming a contributor to his mission to spread the Word to the world.  (Think Billy Graham, but sort of an aging hippie type....LOL)


When Bad Things Lead to Good

Chuck Swindoll tells a story about a man who was shipwrecked on an uninhabited island. Seeing that rescue might be a long time in coming, he painstakingly built a little hut to provide himself protection from the elements, and a place to store the few items he had managed to salvage from the wreck.

For weeks, this man lived in this little hut, with only the hot sun and the cold nights to keep him company. Each and every day, he would prayerfully scan the horizon, hoping for the approach of a ship.

But there was nothing.

One evening, after he had been searching for food on the island, he came back to see that his little hut was in flames. He tried to put the fire out, but it was too late. Everything he had in this world had gone up in smoke. He went to sleep that night, listening to the pounding of the surf, stunned by his own misfortune.

The next morning, he awoke to find a ship anchored off the island—the first ship he had seen since he had been marooned. Still trying to believe his eyes, he heard footsteps and then a human voice, saying, "We saw your smoke signal and we came to rescue you."

That's how it happens sometimes. In sovereignty and grace, the worst case scenario somehow becomes the best case scenario.

Sometimes disasters can turn out to be great opportunities for God to work in your life. The Lord is always present with us, always intimately acquainted with our circumstances, and He can take impossible situations and turn them around.

The image of Christ in this post is by James Jacques Tissot 1830 - 1902.