Sunday, December 5, 2010

1 Corinthians 16 and the Collection

In 1 Corinthians 16, we have an opening discussion of Paul's instruction to the Corinthians, regarding the collection.  The gift called for is to be stored up in keeping personal prosperity, on Saturday night for Sunday.  It is to be collected from all God's people for all God's people.   It is best to see this chapter as being about gifts, not about money. 

By the way, here is an antidote to the problems created by the preacher preaching about money.

1.  To those who say the preacher is merely trying to get a gift, we say some are, but the best preach on all subjects, and talk about the heart when they talk about giving.

2.  To those who say the church exists on alms and think that a cheap shot, we say who else is going to feed the preacher?

3.  To those who say "if God is all powerful and all sufficient, why does he need all this money," we say he doesn't, but people always give freely where their heart is.

4.  To those who think they won't have enough if they give, we say He is able to supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Personal application of 1 Cor 15 and Resurrection

I Cor. 15 is saying that not only is there a literal. bodily resurrection in the future for the believer, but that a believer's resurrection is dependent on Christ's resurrection.  If we have  been united with him in his death, we shall also be united with him in his resurrection.  For Christ to rise and we not rise would violate the pattern of both our connection with the humanity of Christ, and our partaking of the divine nature. 

The resurrection of Christ, and the future resurrection of the believer have very practical implications for this life.  In verse 58 is the summation:  " Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain."  Even when this involves vexing physical danger "What do I gain, humanly speaking, if I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, if the dead are not raised. 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'" (v. 32). 

Oh my my is the Word of God relevant!  The eating and drinking referred to here cannot be taken to mean necessary food, but a consumptive lifestyle that lives for selfish hedonism.  I guess then, that this would be a good test of spirituality; If I am incessantly thinking about what I am going to eat and drink, it indicates that I do not practically believe in the future resurrection "For tomorrow we die." 

But what hold does this food and drink have if I believe that the cross of Christ deals with all the justice the a sinner's sin ever demanded, and that he rose again, and loves with a supreme, forgiving love that does not count men's trespasses against them?  Then I look to him and ask him "What will you have me do?"  At that point, it seems silly as well as sinful to live with a flesh-feeding orientation, locked into a sort of spiritual autism that needs stimming to constantly feel happy. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Interpreting You: A Poem About David

Snatched from the jaws
of being common
Autism's reputation
shattered by the smile that puts more of life
together than puzzle pieces

When you hop
it's like a calf leaping from the stall
Only the stall is long gone
but the hop remains
I think you dance before the Lord
like your namesake
and you remind us
that the joy must move the body
or the joy is not

Even the howl
speaks of the creation
subjected to frustration
awaiting the routine
of the everlasting rest
without change like shifting shadows

The sacred words you memorized
make you mighty
more mighty than earth's greatest sage
Happy is the man who hears
more wisdom in the rigid voice
than all the schools of knowledge muster

The walk you take
for your middle namesake
Enoch walked with God
and God walks beside us
You show that no one takes one step
to heaven's spacious estate
Many steps intervene
to prove they shall walk and not faint
before the entropic world

So you speak
more than your words display
You appeal
in a language few appreciate
thus far we must say
In this way you remind
of the new song the redeemed sing
only veiled but for now

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Home School Vision for 2010-2011 Year

As the new year of home school dawns, here is my vision:

To know what my kids are studying at all times. (Ephesians 6:4)

To give physical, emotional and spiritual support to my wife the teacher as never before seen. (Ephesians 5)

To rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

To let love and faithfulness never leave me (Proverbs 3:3)

To show patience (as it has been shown to me) (Proverbs 19:11)

To protect my children from evil thinking patterns (Phillipians 4:8)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Corinthian Conversation III: First Corinthians 5 Is Not About Sex?

That is what Josh Moody says about I Corinthians 5 and the man having his father's wife.

We actually had a Bible study about this chapter today while a respite worker tended to Dave.  Yes, I said  "sex" around my 12-year old son and younger daughter.  It is in the Bible.  Things seemed to be going a little slow in the study until my wife paraphrased the situation of the Corinthians' boasting and tolerating the blatant sin for my five-year old girl.  That broke it open like a sack of grain.

What I believe we need to understand from this chapter is that God is very serious about sin.  Church discipline is a real deal.  And the attitude the Corinthians should have had toward this man is something like:  "Ok, you are out of our protection, and back to the world you love so much.  But we pray that having come up against your sin, as rubbed in by being in Satan's playground, you will repent, and join us in heaven forever."  But for now, you are out.  The Church is more important than endorsing your corrupt lifestyle."  Pretty psychologically incorrect, huh.

What is the message for those not particularly involved in blatant sin?  Don't go there.  God wields a mighty sword.  And we do not want to be found as Satan's victims under God's sovereign control.  But the way to avoid it is not to get all white-knuckled and resist with will-power.  It is to stay on the narrow road fenced in by the justice of God on one side, and the mercy and grace of the Passover Lamb, Christ, on the other.

Being at a good church, then, is not a religious ritual, it is the very place where the help to stay on this path lies.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thought As We Open March

The best way to see the reality of your faith is to repeatedly commit acts of it. 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Corinthian Conversation II: What Happened To the Corinthians?

I am not up on Corinthian history.

What did they end up doing?  Did they end up hearing what Paul was saying about the centrality of the person of Christ and his cross?

I fear sometimes.  Just how much of this are we getting?  I am afraid that technology will be the great slayer of the would-be Christian soul.  I feel this pressure every day, as the Internet and e-mail beckon, and take us further and further away from our ability to wait on God.  Who can wait on God when we're striving to get faster and faster communications devices and methods with each other?

But letting the Good News sink in in a transforming way depends on the ability to trust God over time, and with many difficulties.  Pilgrim didn't get to fax himself to the Celestial City.

Can we please assist each other in seeing that it is about a person, namely Christ.  And put the servants of God in their rightful place--messengers.  Nobody goes around claiming to have allegiance to the errand runner.  Now true ministers of the Gospel are greater than mere errand boys due to their calling, but in another sense, they fade in personal magnitude compared to Christ.  That is to say, I believe, if we spend more time thinking about how great a particular pastor is than time saying what Christ has done, we are out of balance.

Back to this "true ministers" notion.  There are not a lot of them.  We mean those who stick to the cross and Christ as the grand subject of life.  And that is easy to get off track, even for the best of them.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Corinthian Conversation I: Intellect Is a Tool To Bring Us To Love, Or To God

In response to Dr. Josh Moody's exposition of I Corinthians 2:6-16:

Did you ever feel like the Word of God was like a friend who knew everything about you, and was telling you some ugly stuff in love? That is what I Corinthians is like so far.

God knows everything there is to know about James E. Quattrochi--and you. And yet, he loves us. Simply amazing, that he would do that. If you can read this, and I can write it, we are not in hell. And that is astounding if we think about it.

Specifically, I am gathering a notion I have suspected for some time. That the knowledge of God is categorically different from any other kind of knowledge. God does not just give that to anybody.

We are used to the classroom idea of knowledge: that it is something we should memorize for a test to come. At that point we simply regurgitate that information, collect our "A," and move on.

What I see is that proceeding like that causes people to crucify the Lord of Glory. And that is not good. Kierkegaard championed the Christian faith because he felt that its beauty was that it didn't make sense. That is not exactly where I am coming from. A crucified man 2000 years ago as the source of joy today does not make sense to those without the Spirit. And even those whom God will save stumble over it at times. But in order to know what God's message to us about reality is, we must get that from God himself. Which means that the old "Read your Bible pray every day, and you'll grow, grow, grow" sing-song chant is actually a good but simple start.

People like me trip over simplicity, though. We like lofty philosophical speculations and revel in conjectural thoughts about God and the Bible. Again, later in I Corinthians 13, Paul is going to demolish the "knowledge as candy" orientation of the Corinthians. And the same tendency of philosophers like me. Do you remember "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love...?" Paul goes on to say that even if he could fathom all mysteries, it would be meaningless without love. And love is the old, old story of Jesus. So here we can tie I Corinthians 13 into chapter 2.

So how should we view our intellectual capacities? As leading to and supporting love. And love begins at the cross. The very cross our Lord submitted to when we proceeded in our common view of wisdom and knowledge. May he do a great work to awaken real love and wisdom in us today!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Problem With the Problem Of Evil

Mention "The Problem of Evil," and you will get differing reactions.  Some will just move on to other topics.  Others will discourse at length about all the current philosophical buzz on the subject of evil.  Still others will defend atheist or agnostic views with some adamance.  What Christian views have you heard expounded?

In my observations of the Problem of Evil, I noticed that people mostly want to address evil from an "out there" kind of perspective.  That is, they don't see themselves as part of this problem.  But yet, humans perpetrate evil all the time. 

There are some objections which can be raised almost immediately even to the phrase.  First of all, if the goal is to justify the existence of a benevolent God, who in the world are we to sit in judgment on such a lofty notion?  It is just that we remain oblivious to the most obvious fact in the universe:  God. 

The first temptation of Eve and Adam can be seen as a test.  I believe it is a real occurrence in time and space, that speaks to a reality beyond time and space.

Have you ever "tested" your parents as a kid?  Done something wrong just to see what they would do?  Such a "testing" is wrong for us, but God is, at another point, spoken of as "leaving" a king to test him.  This, however, does not make him wrong.  The objections howl at this point "How can you say that it is wrong for us to test God, and yet he tests us?" 

So we are back to the finite trying to understand the infinite again.  There is a way for a sovereign God to test people, yet remain utterly holy and perfect in all attributes.  Do you want to figure that out?  Mathematically, I would say, you can sooner find, count, and use infinity practically (can you bear an infinite amount of weight?), than you can understand the infinite. 

Back to faith and desire again...We always choose (act, thought, attitude) in accordance with our greatest desire at the moment of choice (Edwards).  We have a biblical record, believed in and died for for centuries and milennia, or whatever you want to believe in the end.

OK, your desire.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010: Wisdom Wanted

I have been struck with a notion on this first morning of 2010.  How many times in the books of Kings that phrases like "...said to the king," and "...if it pleases my lord the king."  It seems that the king, whoever it was, was always getting advice from someone.  But how much of that advice was wise?

As regenerates, we have a mighty responsibility.  We are responsible to make wise decisions regarding money, children if we have them, and time.  We have a sort of "rulership" over some sphere of life.  And this is why I am thinking of a new kind of resolution when major issue advice is given to me, something like:  "If you feel like you must give me advice, be sure you are praying for me as well."  That way, we can both get a hold of real wisdom.