9-29 Blog

“Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the Lord had blessed him in every way.” Genesis 24:1   I am not yet well advanced in years, but I do have a lot of history. Who doesn’t want to say God has blessed them in every way? Abraham had lots of trouble though, things he needed to overcome, bad decisions, sometimes big ones. One thing I learn from him is that faith is a process, not an event. Real faith does not just suddenly happen. It grows. Faith grows out of life and circumstances and our responses. Abraham responded so often by simply building an altar. Through good times and bad, he kept building an altar. Everyone knew that when the family picked up to go to a new place, Abraham was going to gather some rocks and dedicate his new adventure with God. It seems that for Abraham, the altar was the place and the time where he let the past go and looked into the future. This way he was able to deal with his decisions and mistakes. He just left them at the last altar. If we want to look back on our lives when we are old and advanced in years, it would be a good idea to practice letting go of our mistakes and rejoicing in God’s blessing. That way, when the time is short, we are most likely to remember the blessings and not curse the mistakes.

Abram's Alter



Is the Bible the Word of God?

Is the Bible the Word of God? Adam Hamilton argues …

 

Is the Bible the Word of God?   Adam Hamilton argues that the Word was Jesus, God in the flesh, and that our references to the Bible as the Word point to a form of idolatry.  We worship the book rather than the God behind the book.  I believe every word of the Bible has purpose for us and can lead us to right relationship with God, but I am not a literalist.  I have read too much literature to think of the Bible as a Literalist.  The Bible is filled with all kinds of writing: history, fiction, poetry, narrative, essay, drama, apacolyptic.   Rarely is it meant to be taken literally.  Inerrancy seems to me to be a fallacy as Hamilton argues.

At the same time, this does not mean we need to discard passages that do not match our contemporary understanding of God’s nature.  Hamilton says, “Christians may legitimately set aside clear teachings of scripture as no longer binding, seeing them as written primarily for another time and not reflecting God’s timeless will.”  P. 177.  He goes on to use Acts 15, the Jerusalem council, to justify setting aside passages.  In Acts 15, the disciples choose to set aside clear guidelines given by God for inclusion into the covenant of law.  Jesus proclaims a new covenant of grace, and so it is not only understandable, but necessary, for the disciples to rethink how God will relate to Jew and Gentile under this new covenant.  If in fact God is doing something new, establishing yet another covenant that follows law and then grace, then we should all expect to be writing new ethics about His relationship with us today.  But if we are still living in the covenant of grace, then rewriting our code is ever so dangerous.

In Acts 15, the disciples were divinely ordained by the Holy Spirit to discover and offer this new covenant of grace through Jesus to the whole world.  If the church is not entering a time of a new covenant, then we are relying on our own thoughts and desires without the direction of the Holy Spirit.   This is a dangerous undertaking.  The church is facing a war with our society over ethics.  Society has chosen to normalize divorce, abortion, a welfare state, and now is in process of changing its sexual ethic.  The mainline church is dying.  Society is rejecting old forms and antiquated thought systems of the church.   So to stay in step, the church is changing its ethics.  To do so, it must reject passages of scripture that offend.  It may be that God will establish a new covenant that does not offend.  I do not believe we live in that covenant today.   Jesus clearly identifies the covenant of grace as one with ethical standards.  Everything we want is not OK.  We need to keep the Bible intact and wait on God’s Spirit to reveal a new order.  He died on the cross to create the grace covenant.   I can only imagine what He will have to do to establish the covenant of Glory.



7-29-2014 Blog

Blog July 29

 

I am preparing a sermon series on heaven and hell for this September. There is certainly a lot of widespread opinion on the topic. It seems the modern mind has little room for hell and so many have decided it does not exist or is empty. Jesus has a lot to say about heaven and hell too, but he seems to have no problem with their existence. As I am preparing, my ten-year old grandson Isaac initiates this conversation:

 

Isaac: Grandpa. I sometimes wonder if heaven is for real. I mean how do you know?

Me: Just because you have never been somewhere to see it does not mean it does not exist.

Isaac: Then how do you know?

Me: Sometimes you have to trust others who have been there. And trust is a hard thing.

Isaac: You mean like Mema? I forgot that she was there. OK

 

That was the end of the conversation. How easy the mind of a ten year old who trusts those he loves. He believes we would never lie to him. He knows that. It makes me wonder why so many today think Jesus would lie to them. The only conclusion I have been able to draw so far is that they must not know how much He loves them.

 

 



July 15, 2014 Blog

Blog

July 15,2014

 

 

So I am evaluating the possibility of taking my grandsons shark fishing next summer. After two weeks with them this year, I can see that something exciting is required. In my normal way of operating, I began reading about shark fishing and remembered a scene from many years ago on the Jersey shore…pickup trucks lined up along the shore shark fishing. They used a cannon to launch the bait several hundred yards out. As I read about shark fishing and cannon launchers, I kept thinking, “you are on to something.” I go so far as to watch some guys drinking beer in their garage and making a potato gun and shooting oranges at a bucket. I must admit that after they had three beers it was pretty funny. I wonder, “To what extent am I willing to go to create a memory in the heart of those boys?” I am already planning for NEXT summer. I have learned how very important a story is to the life of a family. My family lives off of our stories. They bind us together. They help us laugh even when tragedy strikes. Stories are glue. Most of the time they just happen, but I have learned that we can create an environment where a story is most likely to unfold.

 

Jesus uses stories to mesmerize crowds and to create a bond among the disciples. He makes things happen. He even goes so far as to walk on water. He waits days to raise His friend Lazarus from the dead…dramatic anticipation. He plans for stories to happen because He knows that stories are irrevocable. They are the very glue of belief and create intimate connection. So, guess what, next summer, we are going shark fishing.