Who's your favorite Bible character, and why?
(Pick more than one if you like)
I'll post mine later some time.
[Edit, for all you smart alecs :P: obviously I'm excluding The Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit]
My soul is saddened by the 32 lives that were lost at Virginia Tech University. But my soul is also saddened by the soul that was lost, Cho Seung-Hui.
I can't help but wonder about how many Christians Cho may have run into. I can't help but figure that he must have met some, based on his references to Jesus.
James 1:27"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
Many people read this passage and think that James is telling us to do something that the world views as good and just. In reality, his point is just the opposite. In the 1st century widows and orphans were despised by society. They were viewed as the outcasts who got what they deserved. After all, if they were in such a pitiful condition, there must have been a good reason for them to be there. So in fact, what you have James saying is that rather than pure religion being churches, dress clothes, life-less rituals, and all the other "spiritual" and "authorized" things we do and put so much emphasis on, especially in the church, James says the things that are truly important, what pure and undefiled religion really is, are the little things the world doesn't think are worth a penny. Its being a kind servant to those that society puts down and views as worthless. Its giving a bowl of soup to a bum or being friends with a "loser."
When you read the stories about Cho, you get the picture of a boy who met the world and didn't like it one bit. The world is cold and dark. The world is mean and meaningless. Cho saw this, and didn't know how to react.
But not only did Cho meet the world, he probably also met Christians. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some who joined in with the rest of the kids to mock him and do nothing to prevent him from being a social outcast. What's worse, I can see "Christians" treating him that way all for nothing more than a higher standing or rank on the popular social scale. What a crying shame. Words cannot express the disgust I feel when I think about that. Yet, I see some of the most "sound" and most "conservative" of my brethren here at FC and abroad doing exactly that. I see myself, doing that.
If only Cho had run into someone who was willing to be a true Christ follower: kind, caring, selfless, and willing to give him just a smile, or a friendly word, or to share a meal with him. Who knows. Maybe someone did and Cho rejected the true Gospel. I'm certainly not trying to make excuses for his wicked deeds.
But whatever the case, may God have mercy on the "Christian souls" who may have ganged up on Cho in the ostracizing him from the "normal" people. And may God have mercy on our souls when we likewise put people down or neglect "the least of these" because we are trying to advance ourselves in the social and financial games and traps of life.
I don't think we are aware of how mammothly significant even the smallest deeds of love we do truly are. A kind word or a kind deed could change the whole course of the world. Perhaps, a small deed could have saved the lives of 32 people, and the soul of a young boy.
Greetings!"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!"
Lecture week was excellent. Family visited. Had lots of good food. Listened to a few good lectures. Met up with some good friends. Played some volleyball with Jen's family and mine. And while I did get pretty sick, I had Jen to take care of me and I got to skip Hebrew. So I can't say it was all that bad. ;)
Brother Moyer has been preaching an excellent series of lessons on the Pharisees. His sermon last Sunday night dealt a lot with Matt 23:23-24,
Lately, this imagery has been very vivid to me, and the whole principle of the passage, challenging to the core. It is a somewhat humorous thought, someone going through all the hassle of straining out their meal for a single gnat, but having absolutely no problem swallowing a camel down in one gulp. It's absurd! Yet as I really thought about how that illustration and principle applies to my life, I began to realize just how absurd I have been living.
There are very many "controversial issues" which plague our brethren that I am fairly well versed in. I can point out many flaws in many denominations. I can critique just about every song, every chapel talk, every devotion, every sermon, and every person and see the negative effects of sin tainting everything and everyone, from the ultra-liberal to the ultra-con. I can become and act very offended. I can feel very elite, very puffed up in my pharisaical fantasyland. But what I realize is that while many of these things may well be valid areas of contention, or places I can help others "perfect," the fact of the matter is: Iíve wasted far too much time, far too many efforts on these things, while not establishing myself in the fundamentals, the pillars of the Christian faith.
While I strain out the finer points of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, I myself swallow wholly adultery in the heart. While I strain out the difficulties with Christian military participation, pacifism, and politics, I murder many of my brethren through angry, unhelpful, impatient, and selfish conversation and conduct. I strain out exegetical and linguistic fallacies, discuss interpretive issues, and pile on proof texts, but I have to swallow the fact that I, quite frankly, know very little about the actual message of the Biblical texts as they relate to their original contexts and purposes. There are many, many books of the Bible I have yet to have even a working knowledge of. These are but a few of the many camels that I swallow every day, many times, without giving them a second thought.
So, my first thought on camels is this: Iíve swallowed enough of Ďem. Iím not going to just neglect and forget about some of those less foundational matters, but I need to shift my focus. I need to get my eyes and my body under control, before I worry about the modesty of others and precisely what I think about all of that. I need to be a humble servant of God and His people, before I worry about critiquing the way other people worship God or how they try to encourage others to do so. I need to be a student interested in the actual message of each book of the Bible, before applying proof texts from those books when I do not even understand their role in the book itself.
This is where my second thought about camels comes in. According to a man named, ďHegesippus,Ē James the Lordís brother had a nickname. It was, ďCamel-Knees.Ē The tradition says he got the name for praying on behalf of the brethren so much, but I have a feeling he did some of that kneeling on his own behalf, too. While Iím sick of swallowing camels, Iíd like to have some camel knees of my own. I need to pray more, and more meaningfully. And Iíd really appreciate it if you could rough up your knees a little more, too, on my behalf.
If youíve read all of this, thanks. If not, I completely understand. Whatever the case may be, may we all seek to follow Jesus, to love and trust Him in our doctrines and in our lives, and to focus not only on those matters which our brethren write about, talk about, and make such a big deal of, but to pay careful attention to those weightier matters: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Letís stop swallowing camels, so we have a stomach prepared for the sincere milk, and then, meat of the word, that we might reach the point where we wouldn't even have to strain at any gnats either, because we'd recognize 'em from a mile away, having been filled with the bread and water of life. And letís start callusing our knees in communication with our God, so we can have His help in our time of need.
Grace & Peace,
Break was awesome. I got to spend some time with my family, which was great. It was pretty thought-provoking and *cough* emotional, because it was the last time I will be living at home (aside for a short spring break). I figured I'd say some words about my family, since I don't usually do that kinda thing here, and because I really am grateful that God has blessed me with them--read if you like, or don't, but I just feel like saying something (even if it would embarrass them):
My Dad. He's a great Father. He's always been a steady leader, not just in the way he disciplined us, but also by his example. He's one of those people who you just have to respect, but who never "lords it over." I got to spend, I don't recall how long, talking to him this break about spiritual things. He really helped me with being prayerful, something I've had a very difficult time with for as long as I've been a Christian, and that I've only got worse on in the last couple of years. Ever since I talked to him about it, and he highlighted some passages in my mind, and shared his example with me, I feel that I've been more conscious of God, and in more frequent and meaningful communication with Him. Because of that, and a host of other great, humble, sober, things, I think my Dad will make a great elder when the time comes and I only hope that I can be the kind of leader he was, and is, if I am blessed with children. Oh, and if you're willing to try something a little bit more exotic, he's a great cook!
My Mom. She's a great Mother. Believe it or not, and though I don't usually give her credit for it, she's actually the one who taught all of us boys sports, games, and that kinda stuff. She's a competitor, and just fun to be with. She's also constantly trying to become a more serious Bible student, which is always a reminder to me that I've always got to be growing. She was also always easy to talk to, even when we knew we'd be in trouble. And of course, she was incredibly patient enough to home school us four boys our entire pre-college education, and also to home school my uncle for a few years on top of that.
I think I'll post about my brothers at a later time, but they're all awesome too. The two who are old enough for me to tell now, are going to make great preachers if that's what they end up doing full-time or even if they chose another primary vocation. They're fun to be with, and I can't wait for them to come down to lectures.
This semester is coming at me full-speed, but I've been loving every moment of it (except for the fact that I don't get to see my darling Jen as often). I'm taking fewer classes so I can focus more on Hebrew and Greek, and the other classes--and that turned about to be good, because now I'm also a "supplemental instruction leader," which looks like it might take up a good amount of time. But like I said, it's all been enjoyable, and I'm pumped for the rest of the semester.
Grace & Peace,
It's a little late to post this, but:
Everyone's invited to the annual Sowers Club officer's lectures tonight starting at 7pm in Puckett auditorium.
They will cover chapters 1-3 in 2Peter, being done by Heath, Paul, and me, respectively.
We hope to see ya out! God bless!