A Favorite Post

The following link will take you to one of my favorite blog posts/articles ever. I first read it a long time ago (those of you who know me well will realize that I don’t know if it was 9 months ago or 3 years ago…but it was not recently), and I had the pleasure of forgetting about it and then re-discovering it again tonight.

I highly recommend you read and savor it.

My Favorite Recent Post on Community

I have become increasingly convinced that the whole of life is intended to be lived in community. I don’t mean the tie dye shirt, hemp underwear, and cow dung houses kind of community, although I am sure that could qualify. (I am also sure that a house made of dung would still be cleaner than anywhere I lived before I was married and taught how to clean.) What I mean is that written into our DNA is the need for other people to be let in on what is going on in our lives, including the embarrassing or even downright ugly portions. I would like to think that the past three years I have gotten a little closer to the way I am supposed to live regarding other people, although it is still unnatural for me.

Jobless Minister

Working and Resting…and Saving, well on everything

I highly recommend the article “Physical Work, Spiritual Health,” by Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth.

Here’s an excerpt:

All honest work can be done for the glory of God. As time passes and we grow in our understanding of God and the uniqueness of this planet, we reject more and more “laborsaving” machines. There is an old saying: If you are troubled, chop wood and carry water. This is wise advice. If you pray at the same time, so much the better. Begin to build an hour of work into your daily life. The result will be more life in your day. The flip side of work is rest. God commands all of us to take a day of rest each week, but how many of us take His advice?

Emerging

We are all emerging from something. I like the biblical metaphor of emerging from Egypt to Sinai and beyond. The process of becoming a former slave, part of a new people, and a person with a mission.

A pivotal question for us all to ask ourselves as we leave behind our past, is whether we will allow our past or our future) to define our present.

Sounds good, eh? However, when the rubber hits the road it becomes a different thing. For some of us that means letting go of bitterness over having been lied to in the past. Focus instead on the overwhelming amount of truth that was imparted to you. For some of us that means holding on to our identity as members of a flawed ancestry, rather than attempting to embrace a new identity that is not really our own.

The “emerging church” sparks a lot of reaction these days, and I have often said that I like a lot of the questions they’re asking though I cringe at some of the answers posited. I was glad to read someone from the midst of the emerging movement say that it is not enough to embrace disequilibrium, one must also cling to the healing nature of the Gospel message.

The emerging church is a place where people have felt the freedom to explore questions and experiment with new forms of lifestyle and corporate practice. Often these questions have been about the essence of the Christ-message, vocation, the nature and form of the church, cultural and philosophical analysis, and the present agenda of God in the world.

We should acknowledge that, for many of us, the door was opened to re-imagine faith and the church through pain, disappointment, failure, fatigue, burn-out, public or private humiliation, or a sense of personal alienation. …

At times I’m fearful that permission to be deconstructive has attracted personalities that are prone to criticism, angst, and melancholy. Some of us seem to avoid our unresolved personality issues, organic depressive tendencies, and relational difficulties by transference to a perceived “spiritual crisis.” Some among us need encouragement and support to face our personal difficulties more directly, rather than attributing so much of our struggles to ecclesiological or philosophical issues.

An Emergent Manifesto of Hope: Some among us, like the animals of the forest, have sensed a storm on the horizon…

My question is: will we embrace the transforming changes the Holy Spirit is working in our lives while still cherishing our history, or will we plant the seeds of our own brokenness in the lives of our children? Thereby forcing them or more likely their grandchildren to working through the same issues that crippled the beginnings of our spiritual walks.

Which Ones?

All the mitzvot [commandments] I am giving you today you are to take care to obey (Deuteronomy 8:1).
This Scripture actually describes God’s commandments in the singular (kol hamitzvah). The emphasis is not on following each one of God’s instructions as separate or distinct parts. Instead, they need to be viewed as a whole, as the Artscroll Tanach reads, “the entire commandment.” In other words, each part of the Torah is interconnected. Ya’akov (James) makes the same point as he reflects on this passage in James 2:8-12. This means we cannot treat Scripture as a dinner menu, selecting just those items which are most appetizing.

‘The Voice of the Lord’ on StudyLight.org

Have you ever reflected on this reality?  How do you decide which commandments in Scripture to obey and which to ignore?  Are there any that can be ignored?  Some people suggest that only those mentioned in the Apostolic Scriptures must be followed. However, this is misleading for several reasons, not the least of which is what we mentioned in the last post. The common assumption being that Jesus boiled the commands we have to worry about down to just the big two, but au contraire…there are actually considerably more in the so-called “New Testament” than in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Are God’s commands, whether they are in the first 2/3 or the last 1/3 of the Scriptures, intended to be burdensome?  As Paul would say, “Certainly not!”, they form His Owner’s Manual to Life. How many of us men have ignored the Instruction Manual too long when attempting to put together the latest furniture purchase that our wife has proudly deposited on the living room floor–in a box of course?  Guilty as charged! However, on a side note, I must say that I have learned my lesson and I religiously (pun intended) follow the instructions now.  It’s amazing how I only have to put the darn thing together once or perhaps twice before I have it right.  Whereas in the past…well, we won’t talk about the past, my blood pressure is doing just fine where it is, thank you.

Does this mean that if we can’t keep the whole of Torah we might as well give up and not keep any of it? That’s like the story of the bear who goes into the cornfield and fills his arms with ears of corn. As he leaves, he drops one ear. Dissatisfied with losing part of his haul, he throws down the rest and goes back to gather more. Again he drops an ear as he leaves the field. Again, dissatisfied, he throws away the remainder and returns to get more. He does this repeatedly. Eventually, he goes away hungry.

‘The Voice of the Lord’ on StudyLight.org

That’s right, though I too often hear this argument, “Why should I worry about everything the Torah says, I can’t even do what’s in the New Testament right?!”, it’s actually a completely ridiculous idea.  First of all, not to beat a dead horse, but there’s more commandments in the New Testament than in the Old.

Ok, if I don’t get to a new idea soon PETA is going to be picketing my blog.  Stay tuned, for a totally new idea…

Words for Torah

In Psalm 119:129-136 the psalmist uses seven different words to describe the Torah: today we look at the second word. It is “word/s” (devar). Psalm 119:130: “The unfolding of your words gives light;it gives understanding to the simple.”

Jesus Creed » Bible words: Word

It is great to read a traditional evangelical scholar focusing on Psalm 119! The reason I wanted to highlight this is that Scot McKnight has recognized the seven words used as synonyms for torah. Too often this reality is ignored when we Christians read the psalms.

We all ought to go through the Psalms and Proverbs on the lookout for the following words:

  • word
  • instruction
  • teaching
  • commandments
  • precepts
  • light
  • truth

I think it would revolutionize our concept of the way Torah (throughout Scripture) is supposed to interact with our day to day life. (I think it might change our understanding of a few other things as well, but I’ll look forward to hearing about that from you.)