Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Physics and Chai Tea

I was reading my own Facebook profile last night, and laughed when I saw my list of activities and interests.  Like this blog, it’s a bit eclectic.  I like etymology and prayer, baking and ecclesiology, physics and family. 

Just now, mixing myself a cup of Vanilla Chai, I was thinking of reviewing the drink.  (Because I know all my readers would try and like something just because I said it was good.)  Since a friend introduced me to chai, I have tried various mixes.  King Soopers brand was the best for a while, but only comes in very small containers.  Other brand powders tended to have a grainy taste or that bitter mixture settling to the bottom that wouldn’t dissolve.  I can brew and mix my own from a tea bag, and then add first honey and then milk (and sometimes vanilla or mint extracts).  That tends to taste bitter.  But I feel very cozy and British making hot tea.  Oregon Chai makes single-serving packets, which are convenient but expensive.  There is the concentrate, to which you add milk.  The concentrate must be refrigerated after opening.  It’s basically just a lot of work.  Costco sells a big can of chai mix, which doesn’t taste all that great.  (I suppose I should mention that I like my chai a little weak, and usually reduce the mix to water ratio.)  Most recently I found a 32 ounce can, produced by Caffe D’Amore, of Vanilla Chai.  It has no hydrogenated oils, though it is not all natural. 

I have purchased Chai lattes from several stores, including Starbucks, Caribou, some little tea shop in the Cherry Creek Shopping District, a shop run by Somalis near my work, and Panera.  Of those, I prefer the independent tea shop and Starbucks – though their prices are pretty outrageous! 

I like the strong, spicy flavor of a good Chai.  The cinnamon and cloves and ginger and other spices keep me warm hours after I have enjoyed the last sip.  With milk in it, a Chai latte makes a satisfying snack or morning kick.  It pairs well with cookies or sandwiches or a lot of fruits.  My favorite is the gentling silkiness of vanilla mixed in.  There are all kinds of Chai, including vanilla and mint and mango and chocolate.  The first two, and plain Chai, are my favorites.

When I put the mix in my mug today, I poured the hot water over it and watched before stirring.  The water took over the clumps of floating powder in a way that made it look like a volcano.  As the grains of mix soaked and dissolved, those from underneath floated up and then they got soaked, causing this rolling surfacing that was fascinating to watch. 

That’s physics.  Physics is way more than number-crunching or astronomical calculations.  You don’t have to study physics to appreciate it.  To me so much of my love of physics is awe at how things work.  That they work.  How beautiful they are while they’re working.  Look at clouds.  And ripples of water.  How trees bend in the wind.  The way powder dissolves into hot water.  Falling things.  Pushing things.  Flight.  Floating.  Sinking.  Magnets.  Aren’t they marvelous? 

To God be all glory. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wearing Purple

Christians have hope.  We know that we are loved: created by God, died-for by Jesus Christ.  When we placed our trust in Jesus, our sins were forgiven.  In Christ we are a new creation, freed from guilt and condemnation.  God made our spirits alive so that we could now have fellowship with Him.  Our lives have purposes: to honor God and to walk in the good works He prepared for us.  After this life, we will spend eternity alive again with our Savior, delivered from sin and pain and death.

There are those who do not have this hope.  They feel the void from rejecting the love of God.  But God is still offering.  He offers forgiveness, fellowship, purpose, and eternal life.  Then God commissioned us to spread the good news of this offer. 

People who lack this hope face serious consequences.  Every day they live in rebellion against God, multiplying their sins against Him.  This wickedness has consequences now and forever.  When life is hard, they want to give up.  Many do, and take their own lives.  And as they pass from this life, they enter an eternity of punishment for their sins. 

Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” – James 5:19-20

Men, why are you doing these things?  We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them.” – Acts 14:15

It is unloving to do nothing as these people continue in sin and hopelessness.  To endorse or honor their sin is the least loving thing you could do.  It offers them no way out, and demonstrates your own lack of faith in the God whose character and glory are being betrayed.  But love must be our motive in speaking to the unsaved: love for them, and love for God. 

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” – 1 Peter 3:15

Let your gentleness be known to all men; the Lord is at hand.” – Philippians 4:5

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” – James 1:19-21

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:24-26

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.  Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” – Colossians 4:5-6

Humility and grace go together.  Humility recognizes that we also would stand guilty before God, but for the merciful sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in our place.  We have received God’s grace, and know that for the lost to receive God’s grace as well is their only hope.

But I am writing today primarily to admonish you all to take a stand against the “unfruitful works of darkness” which are the causes for the “wrath of God [coming] on the sons of disobedience.”  We as followers of Jesus Christ need to take a stand in two ways: first, in our own lives, to strive for holiness even as He who called us is holy; second, in our witness to others.  Christians do not need to compromise with the enemies of God in order to offer hope.  There is no hope offered when we tolerate the sins separating men from their God. 

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.  Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’  See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:11-17

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” – Colossians 3:5-7

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them.” – Ephesians 5:3-7

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Finally, as you may have guessed by my title, I am addressing a specific situation in which many Christians are being tempted to honor sin or endorse lifestyles of rebellion against God.  The names we have for these lifestyles today are not found in the Bible.  But the Bible is clear in its reproach against what is today called Homosexuality, also “Gay”, “Lesbian,” “Bi-sexual,” and “Trans-gender.”

As you can read above, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, being “effeminate” is a sin against God for which exclusion from the Kingdom of God is just.  (Thank God for His grace, by which even such sins may be forgiven and overcome!)  Also in that list is fornication, which generally covers every sexual sin.  God intended sex for the context of marriage between man and woman.  Everything else rejects God’s design and inserts our pretentious wisdom.  (We should repudiate all sin, along with homosexuality, as shown by the various lists in the Bible.)

In the Old Testament political laws for the nation of Israel, homosexuality was a perverse sin punishable by death.  This political law is not in effect today.  The USA has no such law.  However, the Mosaic Law’s condemnation of that behavior represents God’s perfect moral righteousness.  To God, such conduct is an abomination

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination… For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people." – Leviticus 18:22, 29

"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." – Leviticus 20:13

Lest you be unconvinced that all forms of homosexuality are still abominations to God and sins against Him, read what Paul wrote to the Romans (in the New Testament, after Jesus had risen from the dead):

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen. 
“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.  For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” – Romans 1:24-32

Over the past decade or so, the world has been told that a person’s “sexual orientation” is something he or she was born with.  I agree that people may be “born that way,” but only in this sense: that all men were born with a sin nature, spiritually dead and enslaved to the Devil.  (See Ephesians 2.)  Romans 1:26 tells us that humans practicing homosexuality have rejected “nature.”  What they are doing is unnatural.  Think, as a Christian, what it means to claim that a person was born with a sexual orientation that is an abomination to God; it means God created them that way!  Would He do such a thing?  He teaches in the Bible that He did not!

This passage in Romans also warns that there are material and spiritual consequences, in the present life, for a lifestyle of homosexuality.  Other teachers have exposited the list of consequences in this section of Scripture, and speculated as to the manifest consequences we see today.  You can read God’s list for yourself, and follow up further if you desire.

Finally, the last phrase of Romans 1:24-32 rebukes those who “approve of those who practice them.”  Do not be one of those people.  Do not honor those who have so rebelled against God.  Mourn those who died without repenting.  Weep for the destructive toll this sin is taking on our country.  And preach hope to them, the hope that comes from submitting to God, who alone ordains salvation and righteousness. 

To God be all glory. 

Monday, October 04, 2010

"Where Do You Go to Church?"

Where do you go to church?

It’s a normal question, and I’m not offended by it.  But in the year since I stopped going to conventional church, I have yet to figure out an easy answer to this question.  I see the horror in friends’ eyes when I tell them I don’t go.  We’ve all known people who walked away from fellowship with believers, or who become apostate to the faith.  There is pity and skepticism if I tell friends I’m still looking.  And when I explain what I’m doing as a matter of practice without going into the reasons, it sounds apologetic.  I’m not sorry for my choices.  I believe in them.

So why do I not go to a church?

Five years ago I led a Bible study on the spiritual gifts.  We looked at what the gifts are, examples of people using them, how they build up the church, and how other believers should respond to them.  In that study I, at least, became convinced that not only was my church broken – but the whole model for “church” that I was familiar with neglected the body-participation and Spirit-ual power and guidance described in the New Testament.

For four years I studied ecclesiology – what the Bible says about the gatherings of believers.  After I’d worked out an idea, mostly based on 1 Corinthians 11-14, of what a church meeting should be like, I discovered some websites about house churches.  My favorite website was New Testament Reformation Fellowship.  On their site are articles about the exact points and questions raised by my study.  The men who contribute to NTRF are from several countries and about ten congregations.  There are people really practicing church like you read about in Acts and the epistles.

But though I was gaining conviction on these things, God was not releasing me from the church I had attended since I was 15.  Church is about God and people, God’s purposes in people.  I am not (even now) released from loving those people or even from fellowshipping with them as I have occasion.  My church was broken, more than its model and more than a church has to be broken (consisting of redeemed sinners).  Many people attending that church were trying to stay to help, to heal, to influence towards the holy and faith-ful.

Finally in 2009 conflict came to a head at my church.  I prayed hard.  God taught me a lot about love.  The result for the church was essentially a split.  For me, I was released from my commitment to that body and that authority.  My family also left that church.  We were then faced with the question of what to do next.  As a family and independently we visited several area churches, without finding any to belong to.

A group that had met for fellowship and Bible study before they left the church continued to meet and my parents joined, contemplating a church plant.  They met in a house and held Sunday meetings.  Members of that group began to explore models for church that appealed to them.  Family-integrated ideas and house church ideas were blended with more traditional ministry models.

Some wanted to expand out of the house.  Others wanted to stay small.  Some wanted to support a full time pastor and others sought bi-vocational leadership.  There were different ideas about the purpose of church: discipleship, evangelism, worship, fellowship?  Which one is the primary goal?  Instead of seeking as a group what the Bible teaches about church, the families mostly went separate ways according to their preferences.

My family had heard about house churches from me for years.  They decided that they believed in house churches, and also in some associated concepts like co-leadership and family integration.  For my part, I am unwilling to join an institution I don’t believe in; I think it would cause problems for them and for me.  I would still like to find a church that follows the 1 Corinthians pattern for church meetings.  Though my parents still meet with some families from our old church, in a house church format, I am concerned that there is still division about the meaning of church and that their practices are somewhat arbitrary and not Bible-based.  I attend a few meetings a month with my family.

Close friends from Awana – and friends of those friends – had developed in 2008 and 2009 a prayer meeting and Bible study.  It was informal, meeting every week or two to share what God had been doing in our lives, the things we were burdened for or convicted about, and Scriptures God had laid on our hearts to share or that had spoken to us during the week.  We spent about an hour each meeting in Spirit-directed prayer, each praying as led.  Our fellowship before and after was sweet, and we often gathered at other times to do ministry or to have parties or to encourage each other.  This was my support during the difficult church split.  And it continues to be God’s provision for a “church”, the closest meeting in my experience to what I’m looking for in a church.

On the side, I also visit a few friends’ churches on Sunday mornings, about 2 out of 4 Sundays.  I visit Sovereign Grace, Cornerstone Chapel, Agape Bible, and Summitview Community in Fort Collins.  Each of these churches has good, God-loving and Jesus-following people who believe in community and whose theology is orthodox and God-exalting.  When I visit them, I think of it as a sort of worship and Bible conference.  I’m also open to visiting other churches occasionally, especially to see people I don’t often get to see – but also to meet new people and see what God is doing in the lives of Christians all over Colorado.

I have a concern about this church practice I’ve adopted, and it is that I have no pastor.  There is no good example of walking in the Spirit whose gift is to shepherd other Christians, guiding and feeding them – none who knows me and my spiritual state whose authority I could submit to and whose leadership I could follow.  But I have been in many conventional churches whose men titled “pastor” do not fit that description, and so I know that there is no easy way to find one.  A pastor, like so many other things, is a gift from God.  And I’m asking God for one still.

To God be all glory.

Two Stupid Comments I Should Have Rephrased

Two Stupid Comments I should have Rephrased

Once upon a time way too close to the present, I was sitting at a table with an over-tired 3 year old.  We were eating a snack after visiting the museum and the park that day.  This little boy was all wound up, and began pretending to bite his finger.  And then he actually bit it.  My attempt at stifling and disguising laughter at his reckless accident failed, and in the middle of please-pity-me-crying (no blood, no marks, no permanent damage), the child screamed his demand that I stop laughing.  I mastered myself.  He didn’t.  While still in the throes of his crying, he put his other finger in his mouth and pretended to bite it. 

In disbelief, I gave a warning.  “You’re stupid,” I said.  Three year olds, they don’t like that very much.  Especially not when their parents taught them that “stupid” is a bad word.  (Really, parents?  Wouldn’t it be better to teach your kids the spirit of respect instead of just limiting their vocabulary?)  He screamed again.  And I realized that I should not have said that.  I apologized, and went to instruct the foolish boy against repeating the same behavior that caused him pain just a moment before. 

Of course the word “stupid” exists for just such a lack of forethought, applies perfectly to the decision to continue the game.  With the information that their household considers it a bad word, I know that the child received no instruction from my diagnosis.  I don’t expect “foolish” would have communicated any more.  Which leaves me with the common option of “silly,” a dangerous thing to say.  A child is silly when he makes a face AND silly when he bites his own finger?  Pretending to bite a finger might be silly, but risking a real bite is not. 

Even aside from my word choice, I criticize the grammar of my sentence.  To be more accurate, the behavior was stupid.  A pattern of neglecting known consequences could justify labeling a person “stupid.”  A one time event doesn’t. 

Fresh off that experience, I went to a friend’s house for a Bible study.  Afterwards, I sought my friend to give her a compliment – a retraction of an earlier criticism.  I believe my words went something like, “You know how I have told you that everyone is like you, not knowing some things – but that we just do a better job of covering it up?  I think if I were in your family, I would look stupid, too.”  Her mom was right there, and hadn’t heard the earlier conversations.  And given the subject of my compliment, more planning for how to word my admission would have made a lot of sense. 

She and her mom looked confused and questioned me whether they were being insulted.  I spent the next five minutes trying to explain what I meant.  The truth is, people quite often say things and I don’t know what they’re talking about, or I don’t know if they’re teasing.  A little quiet observation usually enables me to discern the truth, and in the mean time I pretend to be in the know.  My friend makes the point that a person learns more by admitting their ignorance and asking.  I think there should be balance.  But the other day I was reflecting on the way her brothers treat people, how they push a matter and don’t let anyone pretend to know something they don’t – they tempt a person to doubt what they do know, even.  And I concluded that if I had grown up with that experience, I would also have given up long ago.  My ignorance would always be exposed, just like hers tends to be. 

Anyway, I’m starting to see the value in being more like her: more open, more humble.  I understand at the very least that I could be a better communicator and better friend if I took harsh words like “stupid” out of conversational use lest I give the wrong impression again.  Thank God for patient and forgiving friends!

To God be all glory.

Summer Reading Reviews

I’m so behind, reporting to you on the books I’ve been reading!  Let me catch you up.

Back in August, I read The Oath by Frank Peretti.  It is the second grown-up book I have read of his.  (Monster was a fantastic book!)  I have to say that I was disappointed.  The story started slowly, and dragged on with way too many “climaxes.”  At the end of the book the real climax was not nearly as redemptive as I hoped for.  And I think that reflects the central theme of the book that dissatisfied me: sin when it is full grown gives birth to death; men who are not redeemed are slaves to sin.  That is true enough, but there was precious little in the story about the power of God over sin, to save us from death.  What was there didn’t ring real or powerful or even theological. 

The Oath centers around two vivid images of sin: a dragon growing, hungry, but hard to see and hard to fight; and a oozing sore over the heart – a sore that people want to avoid, want to deny, want to ignore, and ultimately insanely forget. 

Of all the characters, the one that stood out to me wasn’t a main character.  It was the pastor of Hyde River.  He sounds like a lot of pastors: downplaying the power of evil, giving the benefit of the doubt to the intentions of wicked men, avoiding confrontation, and dreaming of bigger ministries.  His was not the blatant rebellion against God embraced by much of the community – but he tolerated and excused the sin around him, even rebuking those few in his congregation who stood for the truth.  The pastor enabled the sin in the community, did nothing to stop the men who were hurrying to hell.  At the end of the story you see which side that puts him on. 

In summary: the writing wasn’t all that good; the idea not that compelling, but there were some high points of description both of human character and of the nature of sin. 

After that I dabbled in a book by Philip Jenkins: The Lost History of the Church in Asia, but it wasn’t what I hoped or expected, so I gave up half way and sent it back to the library.

This was partly because I was busy reading a novel lent to me by a friend, Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope.  That was a pleasant read!  Mr. Trollope confides in you, author to reader, but also uses polite denials to manipulate one into suspecting the accusation denied.  His characters are, sadly, typical of the human race.  Even his hero and heroine have their faults and foolishness.  But he begs you to love them and forgive them, just as they would treat you.  And the spell he casts worked on me.  I do love Mrs. Bold and Mr. Arabin.  From the very beginning the author painted such a picture of his characters that I was curious to see how they would perform whatever dramas and comedies he submitted them to.  I was not disappointed. 

Shortly after I finished Barchester Towers, I was babysitting.  After the little boys were put to bed, I raided their father’s bookshelf, and began to read GK Chesterton’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.  Unrelated to the two movies by the same name, the book is a series of mysteries solved by a genius who knows too much about the dark side of man.  He has too often seen bad men get away with their crimes.  I marvel at the commentator’s skill at weaving into story a sort of poetic metaphor of philosophy along with his critique of politics, aristocracy, and press. 

In response to a friend preaching on hyper-dispensationalism, I took the time one evening to read and make notes on Galatians with a view to the theology of dispensationalism.  Though I sympathize with the concept of dispensations, I must admit that as a whole the book says nearly the opposite of the point my friend was trying to make.  My study has prepared me for our next confrontation. 

While recently on vacation I began The Letters of JRR Tolkien.  So far they are not very interesting, as they mostly predate The Lord of the Rings and any correspondence with fans or critics. 

A partial viewing of Peter Jackson’s Return of the King inspired me to pick up my copy of JRR Tolkien’s Trilogy again.  What delight to revisit The Fellowship of the Ring! 

As always I have a huge stack of books I desire to read in the near future: a couple about AnaBaptists, one about the Great Depression, John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life, Pilgrim’s Progress, Emma, Wives and Daughters, Passion and Purity, Quest for Love, From Eternity to Here, Instruments in the Hands of the Redeemer 

To God be all glory.

Galatians and Dispensations

I'm not even sure I am any kind of Dispensationalist.  And if you don't know what Dispensationalism is, you probably won't understand this skeleton commentary of what it has to do with Galatians.  But if you do, I hope you'll appreciate it.  (Intended to be read with Galatians, not independently.)

Notes on Galatians with an emphasis on Dispensationalism:

1:1 – Paul, an apostle (defending equal authority with the others)
1:6-7 – “different gospel” is really no gospel at all
1:7 – “gospel of Christ”
1:11 – as a Jew, Paul persecuted the Church – at that time mostly made up of Jews
1:17 – in Jerusalem were those who were apostles before Paul
1:22 – before Paul began preaching (to them, at least), there were Churches in Judea that were in Christ, who did not know Paul
1:23 – it was reported that Paul was preaching the same faith he had tried to destroy
1:24 – the Churches of Judea praised God because of Paul and his preaching
2:2  - Paul submitted his gospel to the leaders of the Jerusalem Church to make sure his “running” was “not in vain”
2:3 – the leaders in Jerusalem did not compel Titus the Greek to be circumcised.
2:4 – this is contrasted with false believers who wanted to make the Church slaves (to the Law)
2:5 – Paul resisted those false believers completely.  Compare to Acts 21:17-26 (esp. v. 26): Did Paul change from resisting completely to compromising with the Jewish elders?
2:6 – those in Jerusalem held in high esteem added nothing to his message
2:11 Cephas was to be condemned for his actions – hypocrisy – when he came to Antioch.  Not “ok, you were following the gospel Jesus gave you even though it’s different from mine” but “you’re being a hypocrite, seeking to please men rather than God.” (vs. 12-13)
2:12 – (says the “circumcision group” came from James.  Did he endorse them? Was James wrong then, too? It does say that before that, Cephas found it ok to fellowship with Gentiles, which is the testimony of Acts 10-11)
2:13 – this hypocrisy is described as being led astray
2:14 – they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel (see Eph. 3:6, Rom. 10:12-13, and Gal. 3:28)
2:15 – we Jews know no one is justified by keeping the Law, but by faith
2:21 – if it were possible for righteousness to come by the Law – if we could fully keep the “house rules” of the Mosaic Dispensation, the Old Covenant would not have needed a better one – the New Covenant for which Christ died!  (see also Heb. 8:7, 13)
2:11-21 – Paul says he (past tense) stood against and rebuked Peter.  He does not follow this with a “gave him up to God for correction” or a warning against following Peter, though that was his custom (II Tim. 2:17-19, 4:14-15)
3:6 – Even Abraham was considered righteous only because of faith – though he lived in a covenantal Dispensation
3:10 – All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse, according to the Law itself!  This even in the Mosaic Dispensation!  And still in Paul’s day, today, and forever.
3:13 – Christ, by hanging on a tree, redeemed us (Paul writing to Galatians – Jews and Greeks – 3:28)
3:17 – God’s promises to Abraham to bless all nations predate and outlast the Mosaic Law
3:19 – the Law was added because of transgression of those hoping for the promise to be fulfilled to Abraham’s Seed, Christ.  Blessing to all…
3:22 - …nations could not come through the Law or the people of the Law because it was promised to come through one Seed of Abraham.
3:25 – Now that this faith (in Jesus Christ, by which all nations may receive the blessing of the Spirit – 3:14) has come, we are no longer (implies we once were) under the supervision of the Law
4:9 – How is it that you turn back to weak and miserable forces: observing special days, etc.?
4:29 – It is the same now, that the son of the slave (Mt. Sinai covenant) persecutes the son of the free (Promise)
4:30 – the slave woman’s son (Mt. Sinai covenant) will never share in the inheritance with the free, so cast out the slave!
5:5, 6, 16, 18 – so you’re saved, but transgression is still there?  Adding the Law won’t help and never has.  But we have now, through faith in Christ, received the promised Spirit who enables us to not fulfill the lust of the flesh when, rather than trying to walk by the Law, we walk by the Spirit.  And we continue to have faith that the righteousness for which we hope will come.  But we’re awaiting it, not building it out of the Law.
6:12 – the only reason many insist you must be circumcised is to avoid (for themselves) persecution for the cross of Christ.  (This is a different motive than Paul’s “all things to all men” in 1 Cor. 9:19-23)
6:13 – Even those [believers] who are circumcised do not keep the Law.  They just want to boast to the (unsaved?) Jews that they got you to be circumcised!
6:14 – May Christians only boast in the cross of Christ – the real power for life and godliness!

To God be all glory.

One's Own Motives

Isn’t it strange to be curious about one’s own motives?  Almost as an outside observer I watch myself stop blogging.  And then I wonder what is going on in my life or my psyche or even in my spirit that distracts me and stifles me and prevents me from writing.  This inquiry has produced a few related theories, and though I cannot prove that they are the explanation, they are at least interesting enough realities to share with you, my few remaining readers.

First, I believe myself to be undergoing a change.  Some effects of this are conscious and others, I am proposing, subconscious.  You may understand better if I tell you about the effects.  If you have read my blog for a while, you probably realized that I more or less left the institutional church.  This was not merely a reaction to problems in an individual church, but to learning about how God designed the Church to function.  I left in hope, seeking a more organic and interactive body driven by the Spirit of God and led by the Captain of our Salvation, Jesus Christ.  The man-made programs and pre-designed roles into which traditional churches tend to insert members I have particularly rejected.  Instead, I believe in ministries of pouring into each others’ lives, dependent on “walking in the Spirit” for the words and abilities required to edify our fellow Christians.  This is considerably harder than a clearly-defined responsibility for two hours a week at a church building.  I used to be an Awana leader, one of those established and exemplified jobs in the systemized church.  I did a lot with Awana.  But a year and a half ago, I decided to quit.  I pulled out, grateful for what I had learned and the springboard it had been into a lifestyle of serving God. 

Since I left those two things behind I have spent a lot of money on gas, getting to the homes and activities of my friends; and a lot of time on Facebook, keeping up with the thoughts and feelings and doings of my friends; and a fair amount of hunger on restaurant and fast food, fellowshipping over meals somewhat as prescribed in the Bible.  Sidewalk counseling is another ministry I do that is fairly open.  The times are established, but I’m not scheduled to be there (though I do sometimes promise in advance to see others on specific days).  We have speeches, but sometimes new admonitions or offers or explanations come to our lips.  There is much prayer there, and cooperation by which we are supported outwardly and spiritually. 

When I began this blog, it was an overflow from mass emails I had been sending to several friends (with rare responses).  It was a chance to practice writing – something I still believe God has gifted me to do.  And in writing new ideas down, I learned new things and worked out a lot of what I believe as a twenty-something.  The hope was to find interested people who would interact with me here.  In that way, my blog was less successful than I had hoped. 

The craving all along has been for profound communication – and community.  As I caught up to that desire intellectually, and my life caught up practically, a circle of friends has replaced blogging in my hopes for sharpening and encouragement.  I found an audience that speaks back to me – not on demand, but when I need to be reminded.  And they share new things that I wasn’t seeking.  Or they answer questions before I’ve spent weeks trying to answer them on my own.  In doing ministry in community and praying as a group and studying the Bible together, I’ve continued to learn (and grow in my application!). 

I’m in a learning phase of life, changing and questioning and uncertain how things will work out.  A lot of what consumes my thoughts is personal, unsuited to the wall-less worldwide web.  To write down what I think with as much confidence as I used to just isn’t my mood. 

Now when I get online and have something to say, I tend to say it in a personal email or on Facebook: that great responsibility of a social networking site.  It’s a way to know and be known.  That web-world invites cooperative exploration of ideas.  People can be encouraged and challenged when they didn’t go looking for it.  I can find out when a friend is sick and needs orange juice, or discouraged and needs a phone call, or tempted and needs prayer.  Though the danger is that the Facebook world lets people live outside of reality, for me it connects me to reality much more than blogging. 

Sir Francis Bacon once wrote that “Acorns were good until bread was found.”  That’s my life now. 

Though, I always have had a fascination with acorns…

To God be all glory.