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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Context

Context:  The set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc...

 

We require and desire a context.  From the beginning, we have sought or manufactured a context in which to live.  Context includes boundaries, relationships, rules or laws.  In most cases, Context includes the spiritual.  A recognition of and relationship to something bigger than ourselves... a God.  Context is dimensional.  There are primary contexts, micro contexts, and macro contexts.  I argue there is a "First Context", the context of all contexts.

 

In my case, I have chosen a context of Hilliard, Ohio.   With it comes laws, relationships, and boundaries.  Within that context there is the micro context of my neighborhood which include rules, relationships, and boundaries.  Within that there is the micro context of my home which also includes rules, relationships, and boundaries.  I was born into the primary context of the United States of America with its laws, relationships, and boundaries.  This is within the Macro context of Earth and our Solar System with its rules, relationships, and boundaries.  This also is within a context.  This continues to the First Context. 

 

In each context, there are features or attributes of the larger contexts that exist... evidence that the rules, relationships, and boundaries impose or reveal in my particular contexts.  I don't understand all of the larger contexts and I am not aware of all of the larger contexts, yet I know they are there.

 

I share this with you to make two points in this post:

1.      There is a First Context.  It includes rules, relationships, and boundaries.  There is nothing outside of it.  All that is exists within it.  It is intellect, spirit, and emotion.  It can be known (in part) and knows.  To ignore it is foolish.  It is like pretending there is no gravity.  You can but reality brings a slight correction because gravity really exists.  This First Context is God.

2.      Living in context "peacefully" means we observe and respect the rules, relationship, and boundaries willingly.  To ignore them is foolish.  You can pretend they don't exist.  You can impose your context and suppress an existing context.  There are consequences.  History is full of these tales.  Those who impose or ignore have a "god" complex.  They tend to see themselves as a "First Context".  They create a compelling argument for the concept of a First Context.  The problem is no one living within our primary context has the capacity to be a First Context and consequently, as history reveals, all meet with correcting consequence imposed by a higher order context.

 

I you want the freedom to live in peace to pursue happiness, observe the contexts... all of them.

7:31 am est 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Chapter and Verse

What do we do?  How should we react?  What should we think?  What is important?  What are our priorities?

 

I think these are questions everyone asks and everyone wrestles with.  How we go about answering them reveals much about who we are and what we believe.  I want to suggest to you that the answer to all of these questions can be found in a chapter and verse from the Bible.  I want to further suggest that if those of us who call ourselves disciples of Christ took this perspective, we would function as a single body, share a unity and peace, and be clearly visible as individuals and as a group to those around us.  So what prevents us from realizing this?  Ignorance.

 

The average "Christian" in my part of the world is largely ignorant of what the Bible says.  This ignorance comes about as a result of:

a)      Not committing ourselves to reading the Bible;

b)      Depending on others to tell us what it says;

c)      If we do read it, reading through the filter of our traditions.

 

For the past 30 years, I have been a teacher of the Bible.  I know, in my own journey, my understanding of the Bible has evolved as I know it better, as  I mature, and as a I act it out in daily living.  I know that the discipline of discipleship is the hard work of and time spent knowing God's Word, the Bible, and what it says.  I recently asked a group of friends to join me in a study.  We were working on understanding, with fresh eyes, what the Bible says about the church.  There were 15 of us who agreed to a charter.  As we moved from understanding our present opinions to reading and researching to working to understand the chapter and verse of our topic, our group shrank from 15 to 1.  I share this not to hold up the one as somehow superior or more committed.  I share this to underscore that knowing God's Word is hard work.  It is a commitment.  It requires effort, and for most Christians it is something that they fit it (or more often neglect to fit) in to their day or week.

 

If God is the most important thing for us.  If we love him with our entire being.  If we truly believe that His Word is truth.  Why and how could it be that it gets short shift in exchange for the temporary and significantly less valuable things of this world?

 

My goal in writing this is two fold:

1.      1)  To challenge each of us and create a moment of inflection that prompts us to realign our time and energies relative to reading and knowing the Bible;

2.      2)  To encourage you that the answers to the really important questions of life are found in the chapter and verses of the Bible.

 

Let me suggest that you, God, the Bible, a pad of paper, a concordance, a Bible dictionary, time, and some friends who will share this experience with you, will change your life for the better and you will find the answers to life both for the present and for eternity.  One caution, guard against letting someone else do the work for you.  When you read someone else's Bible study, you get a picture into their understanding of God.  It isn't the same as your understanding of God.  In the end, you will stand before God... alone.  Your favorite author or pastor or teacher won't be there.  You will be accountable for you and you won't have the option of being a "victim" of someone else's understanding.  You CAN know for yourself.  You SHOULD know for yourself.  Make the commitment.  Demonstrate the importance of God in your life in this discipline of knowing Him... Chapter and verse.

3:22 am est 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Truth or Love?

The question was posed to me:  "Does God value truth or love more"?

 

I want to put this under two headings.  Heading number 1 is... "Proof we don't know God".  Heading number 2 is... "Wrong Questions".  I know that sounds harsh.  Maybe the question had more to do with the execution of truth and love as disciples than it does with God's character?  Maybe we cannot (or should not) separate the disciple's execution from God's character?

 

God is love (1 John 4).  God is the source of truth and in the person Jesus is Truth (John 14:6).  God cannot deny who he is.  He cannot be what he is not and cannot be untrue to His character.  God is both truth and love and operates in both truth and love.  This is why the heading "Proof we don't know God".  Only man can question truth or love and can only ask that question outside the context of God.  Again reinforcing that we don't know God.  The question maybe should be or could be asked "How do we act in both truth and love as God does"? Hence the heading of "Wrong Question". 

 

Scripture gives us examples of God operating in both truth and love in the person of our Savior, the Christ.  Mary and Martha, the Samaritan Woman at the well, the Woman caught in adultery, and Peter's denial are just a few examples.  The Woman caught in adultery is a good template for acting in both truth and love.  Look at the Savior's words...

 

1.       Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.

a.      Truth is 360 degrees.  It not only applies to those you see but it applies to you as well.  Romans 2:1 should help us keep this in mind:  "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges.  For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things."

b.      Enforcing the truth of God's Word starts within yourself.  It is not permission to be the behavior police.

 

2.      Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?

a.      See what God's love AND truth have done for you!  It is truth that sets you free (John 8:31-32).   This is cause for praising God.

 

3.      Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.

a.      The Savior came into the world to save not condemn.  We were and are already condemned.

b.      There is an expectation on the disciple of Christ to be as he is knowing we will be measured by nothing less than His full stature (Ephesians 4:13).

 

Truth and love must be together and cannot be separated in or through those who are in God.  Truth is 360 degrees and is best served as witnessed in you from the inside out.  God's love and truth combine to set you free.  Do the same for others and so be a disciple of Christ. Know how a disciple of Christ thinks, speaks, behaves and be that.  In doing so, honor God.

8:28 am est 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It Changes Things

"The kingdom of Heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour till it was all leavened." - Matthew 13:34

 

The things of God are compelling.  Those who heard Jesus teach were amazed. He was unlike their teachers in that he taught with a "note of authority" (Matthew 7:28-29).  The Apostles realized the uniqueness of Jesus, God's Word.  At a time when many disciples were abandoning Jesus because of his teaching, Peter realized and spoke there is nothing else like Jesus and nowhere else to compare to being with Jesus (John 6:66-69).  The men who spoke with Jesus on the road to Emmaus said that their "ears burned".  Paul said that everything except his knowledge of Jesus was rubbish (Philippians 3:7-11).  People from the beginning to present have given and held their very lives as being less valuable than their faith in God (Hebrews 11:32-40).

 

God's Word, which spoke everything into existence (John 1:1-3), is the "blue print" for life, for the Kingdom of Heaven.  There is no foundation apart from God's Word.  There are no walls, no streets, no shelter, no service without God's Word.  There is no life apart from God's Word.  It is light.  It is food and drink.  It is the air the we breath.   At the same time if must be found and harvested.

 

Jesus used images like "buried treasure" and "searching for pearls of great value".  He used a "sower sowing seeds" and "prepared soil".  Solomon spoke of us giving ourselves and our minds to God's Word.  He spoke of crying out for it, seeking it, digging for it as if it were buried treasure (Proverbs 2:1-8).  Peter talked of growing actively and effectively (2 Peter 1:5-11).  Paul taught about a building process (Ephesians 4:12) and of refuting, reforming, and disciplining (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  This is the power of God's vocabulary and parables.

 

God's Word is like yeast in flour.  A little yeast changes the nature of all of the flour provided it is mixed in.  An infinite and all knowing God has given us a little "yeast" (knowledge) of who He is, who we are, and of how it all works.  This knowledge, if "mixed" into us, changes us.  We see (Hebrews 11:1) what was unseen.

 

Be resolved to allow God's Word to change you.  It doesn't take a lot but it does require effort on your part.  It must be made a part of you in order to change your nature.   The existing thing is, once it is mixed in, it will no longer be your nature but the nature of very Son of God (2 Corinthians 5:14-17).  He changes things!

7:32 am est 


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