To Gain Christ, and be Found in Him…

Excerpt from J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, Chapter 2…’The People Who Know Their God':

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ,” wrote Paul. ” What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him… I want to know Christ (Phil 3:7-10)  When Paul says he counts the things he lost rubbish, or dung (KJV), he means not merely that he does not think of them as having any value, but also that he does not live with them constantly in his mind: what normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of manure? Yet this, in effect, is what many of us do. It shows how little we have in the way of true knowledge of God.

My Brother’s Keeper*

I am not surprised, nor do I expect more from BHO. From our president-elect, who is a silver tongued devil, who has openly mocked scripture, and claims to have ‘faith’ of some kind. Faith in ‘hope’ maybe? Does that sound optimistic enough?

“People are coming together around a simple truth – that we are all connected, that I am my brother’s keeper…”

I’m sure you’ve heard this audio during his campaign. A fine example of a politician, doing what politicians do (distorting, molding). He has no fear of the Living God. Let’s see context. Genesis 4:9…

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?

This passage is from dialogue between the Lord and Cain, following the first murder in human history.Yes my friends, our President is not only quoting the first murderer in history, but twisting his words, thus twisting Holy Scripture.

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Thoughts on Election Eve…

Psalm 33

1 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous!
Praise befits the upright.
2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre;
make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.

4 For the word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
5 He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.

6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Let us pray boldly that our gracious Father, the merciful,  just and holy, would display His power in the hearts of the people tomorrow, that He may save us from the president we so deserve for our idolatry, our self worship, our fear of persecution, and our passivity to the plight of those who are perishing. When He has spoken tomorrow let us remember this is his Sovereign righteous judgment made manifest to us. In the event of this temporal defeat, remember that it is our Lord who said in Matthew 5:45b:

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

and as the Psalmist writes in chapter 75:

6 For not from the east or from the west
and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
7 but it is God who executes judgment,
putting down one and lifting up another.

8 For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup
with foaming wine, well mixed,
and he pours out from it,
and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain it down to the dregs.

and in Daniel 4:

17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’

Our Lord’s purposes will be accomplished, all for His glory and majesty, to the fulfillment of the Kingdom. Follow the example of David, after suffering the loss of a son for his own sin.

19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate.

Let us exalt the majestic name of our Lord, our Messiah, our Christ, our redeemer, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! To the ends that we make His glory our joy, only through the name of the Son.

14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient [1] for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. -2 Cor 2

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The Enemy-the “Extraordinary”

An excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship:

“Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” This is the supreme demand. Throught the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God. Jesus does not promise that when we bless our enemies and do good to them they will not dispitefully use and persecute us. They certainly will. But not even that can hurt or overcome us, so long as we pray for them. For if we pray for them, we are taking their distress and poverty, their guilt and perdition upon ourselves, and pleading to God for them. We are doing vicariously for them what they cannot do for themselves. Every insult they utter only serves to bind us more closely to God and them. Their persecution of us only serves to bring them nearer to reconciliation with God and to further the triumphs of love.

The Sanest Man in Gotham

A brief yet pointed summation of Heath Ledgers Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’ as it relates to human depravity and the manifestation and execution of it’s logical ends

HERE

John 15:1-11

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. you are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my fathers commandments and abide in His love. These things have I spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

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Idol Renaissance

I had a thought running through my head after Bible Study at church last Wednesday. We had been talking about Psalm 8, and near the end, we briefly talked about dominion:

6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

Someone brought up global warming, in dare I say, nearly a mocking tone. I thought about this for a bit. Indifferent to political stances, the fact is, we have been poor stewards of His creation. Near indiscriminate industrialization, gas guzzling SUV’s, sportscars, minivans, sedans. Yes, relative the size of the earth, they are tiny. But the day to day bustle, for the past near century with vehicles, and China will be surpassing us soon in cars/fuel consumption. As it usually goes, Republicans under-emphasize the environment, and the Democrats worship it. I hope we find a balance. He has given it to us for our use, and to be good stewards.

I got to thinking about the industrial revolution and the blessing and cursings that pivotal era brought to fruition. Advances in technology brought us convenience and what we considered freedom. New transportation, new social activities, better medicine. An all encompassing paradigm shift for the world.

But if we probe deeply, do these amazing things really matter… Not being a buzzkill, but I want to see this through to it’s logical conclusion, the effects of which we suffer now. We have a society, Christians (loosly defined) included, who look for happiness everywhere but the Lord. We have new and better TV’s, TV programming for every interest, Movies for every fancy, bigger badder sexier sports cars, glorified station-wagons (SUVs), HD Plasma TV’s, swiss-army cell-phones, iPod’s that make french fries, social networking technology that takes us away from real people and into a shadow world of LOL and ROFLs.

While there has been some benefit, I believe that it has all simply served to divert us from the essentials of life, to the non-essential. It has given us idolatry in it’s most subversive, and at the same time, now obvious form. Our materialism is idolatry.

3 You shall have no other gods before Me.

4” You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

5“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

This we know, when we rest on the Rock, our firm foundation, the chief cornerstone Christ Jesus, and truly seek his glory, we will be set apart.

The Humor of Christ

By Elton Trueblood ( Quaker )

An ephemeral (and rightly so) study of the wit and ‘humor’ of our Lord. While I acknowledge the fullness of the humanity of Christ, and his use of piercing wit (for he has perfect knowledge of the hearts of men) and irony, this study falls far short of reasonable analysis, and into the pit of fancy. Trueblood relies heavily on quotes by predecessors such as Chesterton and contemporary writers of his time, while he’s emphasizing what he considers to be a ‘laugh out loud’ moment in the teachings of Christ, his sources seem to be in contention with his thesis.

What he brings to our attention is nothing new, and/or unrecognized in the theological community. It was plain practice for Hebrews to use sharp or extreme contrasts…

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. -Matt 18:9

…to vividly illustrate an important teaching. We all know, I hope, this passage is not literal, for we would all be blind, deaf and mute. What he wants, from Chapter 1, is for his readers to notice that Christ was not the ‘…mild in manner, endlessly patient, grave in speech and serious almost to the point of dourness,’ Christ caricature popular ‘Christianity’ (particulary in America) has shamefully espoused in the 20th century. I’ll raise my glass to his intent as well, and the truthfulness only if it’s expounded reasonably.

The God Who Is There

I just finished Schaeffer’s seminal work this evening. In this work, Schaeffer brings us into the world of art, language, music, literature, distributes each through there respective philosophical frameworks. In doing so traces the excising of God and true truth from society, the import of eastern mysticism, theological liberalism, many and varied (yet hopelessly inadequate) secular philosophies.

Just a few highlights:

From Chapter 2, The First Step in the Line of Despair, he introduces German philosopher Hegel. Before Hegel:

truth, in the sense antithesis, is related to the idea of cause and effect. Cause and effect produces a chain reaction which goes strait on in a horizontal line. With the coming of Hegel this changed.

Instead of logical cause and effect, thesis and antithesis, he emphasized synthesis. According to Schaeffer’s very brief introduction, the Hegel’s attempt to synthesize thesis and antithesis through reason failed.

Which lead to Christian Existentialist Søren Kierkegaard, who Schaeffer places as the first below what he calls, the line of despair. How? He, like Hegel, could not make synthesis work by reason, he postulated that important decisions can only be determined by what has since been coined ‘a leap of faith.’ And this gave birth to the modern disparity between faith and reason.

Thanks Søren. Jerk.

Two (partial) Psalms

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
To deliver their soul from death
And to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart rejoices in Him,
Because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us,
According as we have hoped in You.

-Psalm 33:18-22

I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

-Psalm 34:4-7
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