On the Passing of a Beloved Father from this Life to the Next

It’s Christ the King Sunday Eve and my dear friend’s father is passing into the Kingdom of Light.

My heart aches for her, as he was a godly man and much given to loving those around him.

Her heart weeps even as she knows he will be reunited with his beloved wife. She reflects also on the grandchildren who will not know him as she did, and on the siblings who will finish out life needing now –as mature adults– to become that which they’ve heretofore enjoyed themselves.

He leaves a legacy, not of perfect character, but of passionate pursuit of a beloved Saviour, and the echoes of Christ’s nature which overflowed from his flawed and failing flesh into the thirsty lives of those who looked to him as patriarch.

I prayed with him last night, in the wee hours of the morning, from 27 hours away but with him. I wonder did his spirit sense mine, as I his? He has known for some weeks that this was coming, I think, and worried – little though he needed – for his daughter is the personification of loyalty. She of divided heart: rooted there and longing thisway.

I want to bring this reflection to resolution but death does not allow, for it suspends our relating for a time, and prevents the flow of life to life till the Lord of Life shall return to unite all things in Himself – things and people – in heaven and on earth.

But in Him and in this father of blessed memory my friend has obtained an inheritance, which shall work in her till they meet again, so that all she hopes for and anticipates and all that has gone before shall be to the praise of Messiah’s glory. For she and he are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it… and her father is closer than we to He in whom we live and move and have our being.

Soli Deo gloria.

What Was the Sin of Sodom?

Micah, I’m so glad you brought this point up, as it is little understood these days, and in desperate need of correction. If you don’t mind, I’m going to address your second point first, and then move to your first in a second comment.

You are essentially making a plea for precision as we identify what the Bible says. This presupposes the Bible as an authority, a position we are in agreement on. So…let’s be precise.

I would like to state out of the gate that I agree, the sin of Sodom included arrogance, abundance without gratitude, and a failure to help the needy. We are rightfully indicted by the destruction of Sodom when we see these same sins in our hearts and lives.

The more salient point here, however, is that the failure to confront these sins led to a state of sinfulness in Sodom so great that, “the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man” wanted to rape the angelic visitors. This is simply a fact, plainly stated by Scripture. That fact is included in the Ezekiel passage, but listed at the end of the list of what God has against Sodom as “They were haughty and did an abomination before me.” (You may note in a few moments, how this language corresponds with language from 2 Peter.)

What concerns me is that our knowledge of the Bible and of God’s perspective is so deficient that we are being deceived by antichrist activists into believing that it was for inhospitality and not sexual deviance that God judged Sodom.

The Bible consistently portrays some sins as so egregious as to provoke God to judgement; as so beyond the pale that God actually permits the natural order to be overturned that people might receive the penalty of their sins in themselves and in their society. Wilson speaks to this below from another article,

When Ezekiel mentions the sin of Sodom in an aside, many conservative Christians might be surprised at where he starts. Sodom was a degraded city, and they had gotten to the point where the rape of visitors was something that a number of people thought should be allowed in the public square. But how did they get there?

This was the sin of Sodom—pride, fullness of bread, abundance of idleness, neglect of the poor, haughtiness, and abominations. At the end of that list we find what caused Sodom to become a household word. But consider what went before, and ask yourself how America got to the place where the folly from our federal courts is taken even halfway seriously.

But does the Bible explicitly indicate that the sin of Sodom was of a sexual nature? It does. St. Peter writes that Lot was greatly distressed by the “sensual conduct of the wicked,” and that those will be judged “especially” who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.” (2 Peter 2:7-10 ESV)

I draw your attention to the connection between despising authority and engaging in defiling passion as that point deserves an article of its own. However, I also want to point out that this verse does not contradict Ezekiel 16:49-50. The primary point here is that when men cast off God’s instruction they lose clarity of sight (Prov 29:18), when men despise authority they end up defiling themselves, when men fail to give God their gratitude they become idolators (Deut 8:10-14, 17-19). When men fail to confront being arrogant, overfed and unconcerned, they end up committing penultimately despicable behaviors. Behaviors so obviously against God, against nature, and against reason that it should be obvious to all, whether believer or not, but both in Sodom and now, we live in a time where even Christians don’t recognize that the horrific wickedness we read about in Scripture is happening in our midst and we are cooperating in excusing it!

I am sickened to my soul, not in disgust but in despair, when I see that many priests and pastors do not even understand these things. We have claimed Israel’s blessings as our own, and are now re-committing their errors, and are now receiving the same judgements as did they. Isaiah 1:1-23 describes where we are heading in America. And so, for that matter, does Ezekiel 16…read that chapter from the beginning.

Wilson correctly points out,

Why are men sexually attracted to other men? It is the judgment of God upon our culture because we would not honor God as God and would not give Him thanks. Therefore God has given men over to the downward spiral of their renegade lusts fueled by father hunger.

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

My conclusion? I need to do a bit more blogging in 2013!

Listening to God through your spirit…

I am not a multi-tasker. Due to the realistic requirements of my life, however, I multi-task constantly but it stresses me out to do so. I do everything that I’m multi-tasking at in a manner that leaves me unsatisfied, because it forces me to push a task off as “completed” without having ever given it my full attention and satisfactory approval. Consequently, everything in my life feels unfinished to me; I detest this.

Granted, the manner in which I like to complete something is probably unrealistic; I like to master something, learn all about it, discover it’s background, review others who have done something similar, evaluate strengths and weaknesses of their effort, digest this, take a couple stabs at an effort of my own, and then, finally, to do the actual final project.

How much of what I do is because God is forcing me to learn skills outside those He naturally gifted me with, and how much is a result of me not doing whatever it would take to put myself in a place to use the unique gifts and style He created in me? How much of our circumstances is God’s will and how much is our will?  Is there some sort of balance between, “God helps those who help themselves,” and never doing anything that a voice from heaven hasn’t commanded?

God (through Samuel) showed up on David’s “doorstep” and called him from the pastures, but Nehemiah became troubled in spirit and beseeched God,

O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.

I wonder if Nehemiah was content as cup-bearer to the king?

The Process of Discipleship: Invitation to Imitation

I was praying this morning asking God to show me His divine design for discipleship from Scripture. In other words, “Lord what is your process for discipleship?”

Here’s what I heard: Invitation to Imitation.

Where do we see Invitation?

Psalm 34:8a, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!”

Zechariah 3:10 “In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

Matthew 22:2, 9 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, … Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.”

Matthew 4:19 “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.'”

Matthew 9:9 “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him.”

John 1:35-39 “The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, ‘What are you seeking?’ And they said to him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and you will see.‘”

John 1:43 “The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.'”

Where do we see Imitation?

John 12:26 “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

1 Corinthians 4:15-16 “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Ephesians 5:1 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

2 Timothy 1:13 “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

Hebrews 6:11-12 “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

What should we understand from the concept of Invitation?

In order to invite someone, there must be already in existence something to join. There must be a place, or a group, or a way to which you are inviting.

And what should we understand from the concept of Imitation?

One only imitates that which works. The patterns we teach and which we exemplify must be made of “sound words,” it must be patterned after those who have inherited the promises. “Consider the outcome of their way of life…”

Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”

Psalm 78:4-8 “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

How I Want to Go Out

The day before he died John Wesley shocked his friends by suddenly singing out in a strong voice the following hymn of Isaac Watts:

I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath,
And when my voice is lost in death
Praise shall employ my nobler powers;
My days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life and thought and being last,
Or immortality endures.

Through the night that followed till 10 the next morning, when he finally passed to glory, Wesley muttered all he could muster, “I’ll praise–I’ll praise–.” I have no greater hope than to finish this mortal race in like fashion. May it be so, Lord; may it be so; by thy grace.

How do you read Scripture?

Can we read the Scriptures in such a way as to understand the people of God’s story, not solely as history might record it, but as God would want us to remember it and learn from it? Would we be better off to describe the faith of God’s people, not as the First Testament or archaeology record it, but as the Scriptures reckon it should have been and should be? What if we aimed to live life, not as it was actually lived by the people of God over the centuries, but as the Scriptures describe it should or could have been and should and could actually be lived?

I live according to the unlikely conviction and perhaps improbable reality that the Scriptures are designed to inform a vision for the people of God in the twenty-first (and every other) century. [1]

[1] This musing was prompted by and is actually a re-working of the opening paragraph of John Goldingay’s, Old Testament Theology, Volume 3: Israel’s Life (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 13.

Explaining My Life

“The test of each story is the sort of person it shapes,”[1] and (as the authors of that comment would grant) the sort of community it shapes. “The practice of community establishment and maintenance was at the center of the social ethic of earliest Christianity”[2] as it has been of the First Testament’s social ethic.[3]

There in a single, two-sentence, paragraph is an excellent description of what is, perhaps, my cardinal conviction regarding the nature and purpose of Scripture (and God’s intention for it); a conviction that shapes my life, the expenditure of my time and energy, and is the goal of my pursuits.

[1] Stanley Hauerwas and David Burrell, “From System to Story,” in Why Narrative? ed. Stanley Hauerwas and L. Gregory Jones (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), pp. 158–90; see p. 185; reprinted from Stanley Hauerwas, Truthfulness and Tragedy (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977), pp. 15–39; see p. 35.

[2] James W. McClendon, “The Practice of Community Formation,” in Virtues and Practices in the Christian Tradition: Christian Ethics after MacIntyre, ed. Nancey Murphy et al. (Harrisburg, Penn.: Trinity, 1997), pp. 86–110, see p. 102.

[3] John Goldingay, Old Testament Theology, Volume 3: Israel’s Life (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 14.

A 7-year-old’s Perspective

Today while Elisa and the kids were visiting G-G…their great grandma, her hand was crushed in the van door and they eventually had to take G-G to the hospital (she’s okay, by the way).

So after a day full of that excitement, while on the phone tonight I asked Ethan a question:

Daddyo: So Ethan, anything exciting happen today?

Ethan: Yeah! I saw a lizard!

The Psychology of Little Girls

(not a technical analysis)

Elorah brought me a hairband today and asked if I would put her hair in a ponytail. After doing so, she proceeded to prance around the house saying,

I’m a girl, I’m a girl, woo-hoo, I’m a g-i-r-r-l!

Ethan, on the other hand, would run around the house—full-tilt—proclaiming:

I’m a ninja! I’m a ninja!