Tuesday, May 09, 2006
It fascinates me the way God strung allegory for what he would do with his Church all throughout his dealings with his people Israel. In the last month, the issue of spiritual gifts has come up a lot, because of a variety of reasons. And my pastors at Trinity, being the responsible shepherds they are, have taken initiative in several ways to teach on the nature of the gifts and the way they fit into body life today.
All of this has left me with still other questions, and a few places of disagreement, but its also been incredibly interesting and informative. It's not often that a Southern Baptist church will, verse-by-verse, tackle 1 Corinthians 12-14. I think they're usually pretty scared of it, which is why I respect Ryan and Ronnie all the more. Anyway, regardless of the more unclear aspects of the gifts, several things are clear. But for that, I want to back up to the Tabernacle.
Exodus 25-30 gives incredibly specific, meticulous guidelines for how the Tabernacle was to be constructed and decorated. From the basic framing, to the screen at the entrance, the altars, and even the garments for the priests, God made known exactly how he wished everything to be done. And it the purpose wasn't so the nations, or even Israel herself, would look at the temple and marvel. The purpose was for God to have a habitation among his people, and a place where they could come and seek him, and even talk to him face to face, as friends (Ex 33). Even though these requirements were incredibly specific, God gave men to Moses who were supernaturally enabled by the Holy Spirit to do everything that was necessary.
The Lord said to Moses, "see, I have called by name Bezalel...and have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship...And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab...And I have given to all able men ability, that they make make all that I have commanded you. (31:1-3, 6)
God supernaturally enabled men to build up his temple! This is incredible, and is a tribute to the nature of God to always provide what he requires. He doesn't heap up impossible tasks for his people to do and not lift a finger to help them. What God requires, he provides.
And this aspect of God's character is not limited to how he dealt with Israel, however. Believers in the New Testament are referred to as "living stones...being built up as a spiritual house, as a dwelling place for God by the Spirit," (1 Pet 2:5, Eph 2:22). We have similar commands from God as to how to behave, what our goals are, and how to reach them. They are just as specific, and similary as hard to do naturally. And in the same way as with the Tabernacle, God provides what we need. He provides the raw materials (2 Tim 1:9, Eph 2:8-9) and the instructions (2 Pet 2:21), and finally, the gifted workers:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, and to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit, for building up the body of Christ, to excel in building up the church. (Eph 4:11-12, 1 Cor 12:7, 14:12)
The purpose of the foundational men of the church, and the gifts distributed to all believers (as the Holy Spirit wills), is the same as the supply and giftings for the Tabernacle over 1400 years earlier. To build up a place for him to dwell with his people. Originally, a construction, but now, the people themselves. The symbolism is incredible, the mercy of provision even moreso!
Posted at 03:36 pm by longnailsareok
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
"Christ is a Savior for those realizing something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, who feel the awful burden of it on their conscience, who loathe themselves for it, who long to be freed from its terrible dominion; and a Savior for no others." - A. W. Pink
Posted at 10:35 pm by longnailsareok
Thursday, March 02, 2006
A Thankful Heart Prepares the Way
Sometimes I forget that God hears prayer, and when he answers, I look at some new blessing and think it's just something out of place.I will make with them an everlasting covenant,
I've been memorizing Colossians with my roomate over the past few months, and about halfway through chapter two it says to be "abounding in thanksgiving, just as you were taught." I realized of the little virtue I could identify in myself, thankfulness was not a part of it. So, I just started asking for it.
Of late, God has been giving incredible blessings and guidances in a lot of different forms, and this morning I started contemplating what he has given me, and I was just overwhelmed. He succeeds in magnifying himself by filling cups so full with abundant blessing, even when we're in sin and don't deserve it. And he reminded me that the way he gives to undeserving sons is one of the 'better promises' of the New Covenant that we all now enjoy who are the spiritual sons of Abraham.
that I will not turn away from doing good to them.
And I will put the fear of me in their hearts,
that they may not turn from me.
I will rejoice in doing them good,
and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness,
with all my heart and all my soul.
Jeremiah 32 offers a lot of these 'better promises', and they're staggering. They're not just words, and they're not empty. They're backed up by an eternal legacy of a God who keeps his promises and is always true to his word. It's an everlasting covenant, meant for all who will believe and receive the blessing He promises through Abraham and Isaac. One of these is that he will not turn away from doing us good. It's not conditional. It's a simple promise. It's true, and I've tasted it. And I'm thankful.
But I've faced a new irony. Most of my life that I've been familiar with these same promises, I've found myself claiming all the parts about him doing us good, but paying little attention to the guarantee of him putting the fear of him in my heart, and the similar promise from Ezekiel 36 about being caused to walk in his statutes. And those are the ones I really want now, I think. Because I've figured out that the gifts and inheritance and do-gooding he does only go so far. If I don't have him and the assurance of his presence, the gifts are just so much sand through my fingers. I want to obey, because in that is the real, lavish gift he gives:
Posted at 08:07 pm by longnailsareok
Thursday, February 16, 2006
It's pretty amazing how God works things out when his people are simply obedient.
At my church, it came out that one of the elders had been concealing a homosexual lifestyle for thirty years. As you'd probably expect, a lot of turmoil resulted. But, my pastor had spent several weeks preaching on the biblical basis for and necessity of church discipline the last year, and so this proved to be one of the those rubber-meeting-road moments.
The elders told this man that he could either repent and they would walk with him through recovery, or he would have to leave the fellowship. He chose to leave. Then, over several weeks, he was won over by the love of the body. Through letters, phone calls, and even visits, the Lord broke his heart. Sunday night he came to publically confess and repent, and to ask forgiveness. He was welcomed back into fellowship, and the whole church came down to lay hands on him and pray for him, and then took the Lord's supper together as a unified body. It was amazing how faithful God was when his people listened to and heeded his word.
He obviously knows what he's doing.
Posted at 07:08 pm by longnailsareok
Sunday, January 08, 2006
I've realized the last few weeks and months that I have very few strong political convictions. I of course have firm stances on abortion and homosexual marriage, but those aren't as much political convictions as much as they are moral issues which just so happen to be significant in the political realm. Things like welfare and worker's rights and education are much more complicated.
I'm starting to realize that my previous idea of 'I'm religiously conservative, so that makes me Republican' doesn't really hold up. The whole polarization of the two-party system and the resulting complications are starting to become more evident to me. Sure, I appreciate the strong moral stance the Republicans take on a few issues I feel strongly about. But, I have no interest in seeing the rich become richer and the rights of the poor neglected.
But this is where it gets even harder, because I have to think biblically about all these issues. The problem with welfare isn't the particular philosophy each administration or party has regarding the way it should be administered, but instead that the government is in charge of the poor at all. The job of caring for the poor isn't given to the state, but to the church. The whole idea of state-run welfare is faulty and bibically unfaithful from the start.
Forming a political stance is going to be difficult, and I'm getting the idea that in the end, I'm not quite going to fit in with the two-party system.
Posted at 12:17 am by longnailsareok
Monday, December 19, 2005
Yesterday I was doing a bit of research on New Covenant Theology and ended up at a pretty cool website with a lot of theological Q&A. I noticed that this particular website was supported by a church, and so I checked out the church's site. I was slightly disappointed by what I saw.
Like so many today, this church put on the front page of its website that it was distinctively TULIP-driven. It wasn't even in the section normally reserved for theological distinctives or statements of faith. Now, don't get me wrong. I had my period of rabid, incendiary Calvinism, and so this may be a bit hypocritical of me to mention. But, the older I get (all of 20, now) the more worried I am about people who are so terribly orthodox. Obviously, true orthodoxy is vitally important. But who decides what is orthodoxy, and to what extent does that label apply? Theology of salvation, or Christ, or how many pop machines are allowed in the foyer?
My question really is, to what extent should a church be defined by a particular part of biblical doctrine? I agree it's important to fight the slowly waning tide of cultural Arminianism, but a church (or at least a pastoral staff) that fights one theological battle to its limit seems to me to be dangerously out of balance. It's no better than this church trying to reach only hip twenty-somethings, or that one targetting specifically kids from the hardcore scene. Also, you don't really ever notice a church that on its front page says "we're a TITHING church" or "we're a church without ANY coarse joking!"
To me, orthodoxy is something that should be clung to, but loosely. We should always be open to sharpening and correction, and the illumination of the Holy Spirit to properly understand the Word. Institutionalized theology will always be a perilous thing; to this day my grandmother things alcohol and playing cards are works of the devil.
Posted at 12:52 pm by longnailsareok
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
From C.S. Lewis:I created an ocean only to be drowned in a whirlpool.
Need-love says of a woman "I cannot live without her"; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection - if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never to have seen her at all.
The mention of her name or the sound of her voice always brings my affections hopelessly high, only to realize that itís a dream Iíve already awoken from -- a dream from weeks ago. I can no longer even afford the energy of hope that comes in fanciful sleep, because somehow even whatever authors my dreams refuses to ignore this pitiful objectivity: the reality of dead anticipation. Some people can merely expect to slip for a scant few hours to their dreams to escape a concrete sorrow; my only refuge is silent rest.
White knuckles for half a year take time to unwind from contortion, no matter how violently the grip was shaken. Mind and heart that were so long fashioned to accept a new piece, and ready to share the burden of blood and love, now know the meticulous preparation and tragic unfulfillment of the puzzle with a single misplaced piece. They know that the last piece is effectively the whole. The other four thousand are just an expensive, fitted nothing. The hole is small, but large enough to swallow and consume the time taken to form it.
Posted at 12:01 am by longnailsareok
Saturday, November 12, 2005
I was browsing some stuff on Amazon and thought this name was absolutely unbelievable.
Posted at 11:23 am by longnailsareok
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Today's My Utmost
The first thing God does is get us grounded on strong reality and truth. He does this until our cares for ourselves individually have been brought into submission to His way for the purpose of His redemption. Why shouldnít we experience heartbreak? Through those doorways God is opening up ways of fellowship with His Son. Most of us collapse at the first grip of pain. We sit down at the door of Godís purpose and enter a slow death through self-pity. And all the so-called Christian sympathy of others helps us to our deathbed. But God will not. He comes with the grip of the pierced hand of His Son, as if to say, "Enter into fellowship with Me; arise and shine." If God can accomplish His purposes in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him for breaking yours?
Oh, for grace to obtain a heart that rejoices in hurt...
Posted at 08:40 pm by longnailsareok
Friday, October 14, 2005
Well no I've never
Had a lazy river
To carry me away
But I'll mosey on over
With a custom-fit lover
Farewell, we'll fly today.
We'll make our way
With the children and say
That life's not all you see.
You'll find I'll arrive,
With the only treasure I prize--
Hand in hand with family.
Posted at 12:57 pm by longnailsareok