Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tying Ties

An absolute must.  I only know how to tie a full Windsor, but this is helpful...

Source: duitang.com via Sarah on Pinterest

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Exactly what is God the "God of"?

There is no doubt the God of the Bible is exactly who he says he is. But how do we inform ourselves of this? Through his Word, the Bible itself.  Therefore, it is time well spent to discover exactly what the Bible states God is the God of, using that exact "God of" word combination.

A Sovereign Lord of the Bible is the God of multiple finite things which we can have a freedom in mentioning. Those things could include internet communications, breakfast cereals and very small rocks (I had to throw that in!). Provided they are not said for comedic effect alone (Ahem), I have no problem with acknowledging these specific facts. God is certainly allowed to be God over ice cream cones, if it, in part, explains to a child how and what God has control of/over. But describing God based upon our solo thoughts outside of scripture is a foolish and self-imposed poverty. Furthermore, it is idolatry with the severest consequences (1 Kings 20:28). The Bible MUST inform our knowledge of God.

Describing God how the scripture defines him is the starting and ending point for any honorable description of Him. So, I used my search tools for the phrase "God of" in my ESV bible to discover precisely what God is the” God of”. Granted, there is other phraseology that does describe God in the Bible, but as I said, this is a decent starting point. Even though we cannot know all things of our limitless God, these results do tell us something of God's command and connection to his people. This effort was triggered by a study of Romans 15, which has three instances which God is "God of" that got my wheels turning. Of the over 400 instances, here are several noteworthies:

God is the God of Shem. (Genesis 9:26) (This is the first instance I stumbled across. God, indeed, is the God of many other individuals in the OT (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), but this was noteworthy because of it's location in scripture-which does not indicate preeminence here-and also an introduction to God's personal nature with his creation)
God is the God of seeing (Genesis 16:13)
God is the God of heaven and the God of earth (Genesis 24:3)
God is the God of Bethel (Genesis 31:13)
God is the God of my master Abraham (Genesis 24:12)
God is the God of Abraham your father (Genesis 26:24)
God is the God of my father (Genesis 31:5)
God is the God of your father (Genesis 31:29)
God is the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father (Genesis 31:53)
God is the God of your fathers (Exodus 3:13)
God is the God of the Hebrews (Exodus 3:18)
God is the God of their fathers (Exodus 4:5)
God is the God of Israel (Exodus 24:10)
God is the God of the spirits of all flesh (Numbers 16:22)
God is the God of gods (Deuteronomy 10:17)
God is the God of our fathers (Deuteronomy 26:7)
God is a God of faithfulness (Deuteronomy 32:4)
God is a God of knowledge (1 Samuel 2:3)
God is the God of the armies of Israel (1 Samuel 17:45)
God is the God of hosts (2 Samuel 5:10)
God is the God of Jacob (2 Samuel 23:1)
God is the God of my lord the king (1 Kings 1:36)
God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (1 Kings 18:36)
God is the God of David your father (2 Kings 20:5)
God is the God of our salvation (1 Chronicles 16:35)
God is the God of David your father (2 Chronicles 21:12)
God is the God of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 32:19)
God is the God of my righteousness (Psalm 4:1)
God is the God of my salvation (Psalm 18:46)
God is the God of glory (Psalm 29:3)
God is the God of my life (Psalm 42:8)
God is a God of salvation (Psalm 68:20)
God is the God of vengeance (Psalm 94:1)
God is the God of my praise (Psalm 109:1)
God is the God of your salvation (Isaiah 17:10)
God is the God of the whole earth (Isaiah 54:5)
God is the God of truth (Isaiah 65:16)
God is the God of all the clans of Israel (Jeremiah 31:1)
God is a God of recompense (Jeremiah 51:56)
God is the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:28)
God is the God of Daniel (Daniel 6:26)
God is the God of justice (Malachi 2:17)
God is the God of the living (Matthew 22:32)
God is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers (Acts 3:13)
God is the God of this people Israel (Acts 13:17)
God is the God of the Jews and the God of the Gentiles (Romans 3:29)
God is the God of endurance and encouragement (Romans 15:5)
God is the God of hope (Romans 15:13)
God is the God of peace (Romans 15:33)
God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3)
God is the God of love and peace (2 Corinthians 13:11)
God is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:17)
God is the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10)
God is the God of the spirits of the prophets (Revelation 22:6)

This is quite a list that contains some wordy and Bibley words. God is the God of big and small things. God is the God of groups and individuals. God is the God of ideas and realities. He is the God of many things, yet a God of such specific things. It would seem that these variances are the point. God is the God of somethings, someones and somewheres because he is the God of everything, everyone and everywhere. Whatever else you notice, that fact would be tough to miss.

God is the God over all. We have to be careful to let our scriptural knowledge of him inform our experience, rather than the other way around. It's altogether right to defer to God's description of himself, not our ideas Him based upon misunderstandings. Furthermore, we can state these things of God with confidence, because the Bible teaches us that "all your words are true." (Psalm 119:160) Shine in darkness.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Telling the True Stories

Recently, this quote from Doug Wilson's "God Rest Ye Merry" jumped off a page at me. It is so good that I must pass it on:
Stories organize our lives, and the stories that won't or can't do that are false stories. The stories that orient us, that place us back where we should have been, the stories that bring redemption, are called true stories. They go by other names if you listen to tellers of false stories-legends, lies, myths, fairy stories. But true stories have authority to overcome the envious carping of adversary.  
This is especially true of the true story. The first man and woman were placed by God in a glorious garden, and given the earth as their inheritance. They were told to stay away from one tree-for the time being-and when the serpent worm entered the garden and lied to them, they gave way to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. They, like all of us with them, fell into darkness and confusion apart from the life of God, and were expelled from the garden. Since that time, in the darkness outside that garden, as we have told one another stories, they have all centered on some way or other of getting back into the garden-but it never seems to work. 
God Rest Ye Merry, Douglas Wilson, pg 112-113
With that said, we all need to be reading good books, watching good movies and telling good stories (Truth told, we should be the ones writing the books, making the movies and making up the stories). As I read my Bible, I am reminded that Jesus himself spoke in parables. Picture that! The Truth himself told true stories. Some of Jesus's stories are from the Old Testament, some are from heaven above, some are from observation and some may have been made up on the spot (Reread the story of the Good Samaritan see if it doesn't read that way). Following his example always puts us in his good company.

I would say that the only way our story will make any sense and have any lasting value is if it intersects with His story. That story is the gospel, which any story of decent or redeemable value will have some connection with. If you do not know Christ personally and haven't been forgiven of your sins, stop and read this concise gospel presentation. The gospel isn't just a good story it is the story and if you are to have eternal life, it must become yours. If you already have true faith and belief in Jesus Christ, reread it.

Everyone who bears the scars of the fall needs the true stories to help us reconnect with the True story, and that would be Christ and his gospel. The Lord knows we have all had far too much of the false stories, some of which will haunt us the rest of our days. But even still, the followers of Christ can confidently claim, that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. But you have to be part of his story to be able to say that.

Now I do recognize the variance between the biblical gospel and a simple story that merely points to true aspects of that gospel. No doubt, like John Bunyan of old said, we do need to be a people of one book, the Bible. Nevertheless, I, along with the apostle Paul, say bring me books anyway because scripture is the lens by which I view them. So read away, student of the Bible! Thomas Chalmers once stated that reading was moral illumination.  As long as we understand that in an assistive and not a determinative fashion, then I would say that Chalmers is spot on.

With that said, I am reminded how I need to reconnect myself with a good story. I was recently challenged by my son, Blake, to read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Exactly like his grandfather, Blake is officially reading circles around me these days. Now I want you to know that I do read stuff: Newspapers, emails, travel sites, my Bible, far too much Craigslist items, etc. But for someone who takes in information like Eustace in his pre-dragon state, I've a long way to go with fiction. For those of my friends who take issues with allegory or alternate fictional universes, I can relate to you because I used to be one of you.  I empathize with you, but do so without sympathy. Because, like me, you need to change as well. Reading theology alone can lead you directly into theological error. Why? Because you can end up trusting far too much in your own sensibilities and reason of scripture than scripture and Christ alone. I know it sounds crazy, but a decent book of fiction can support your effort of not shipwrecking your faith. Have an open mind toward books with stories that may help you understand your theology better and worship the Lord in a way you didn't previously think possible.

Nevertheless, like Bilbo Baggins, my quest has begun! And, I make no comment about being motivated by a certain film release date encouraging this effort. Nope, no motivation whatsoever. Nothing to see here. As you were. Tolle Legge. Shine in Darkness.

Would you believe that growing up I chose Sports Illustrated and encyclopedias over this!?!

PS-For those interested, my old blogspot is now accessible.  It needed to go away for awhile.