Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Faithful is He

It is sometimes easy to have faith at the start of a long journey. There is excitement and anticipation. Energy levels run high. And it is certainly easy to have faith as you near the goal or the end of a long journey. But what about the long stretch in the middle?

That is where I see myself and many others these days. At nearly 47 years of age I am far from the beginning of my journey. And hopefully I am reasonably far from the end of my journey as well! So in this middle of the journey I hold on to Scriptures like these.

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
I Thessalonians 5:24 NKJV

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 NKJV

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Spring Cleaning

It is that time of year again. At least it is down here in Houston, TX. It was 81 degrees today. It is time for a little spring cleaning.

Recently I had to clean my office at work. It desperately needed it. I had let over 6 years of papers and trade publications pile up and completely obscure most of the work surfaces in my office. So, I did a little spring cleaning.

We were able to reclaim the front room in our home that had been used by our son for a business that he operated out of our house. It is now clean and in the process of being redecorated to suit my wife’s taste. So, that was a little more spring cleaning.

My brother recently began blogging and I looked at his new blog. It was incredibly neat and clean. I looked at mine. Hmmh. Not so much. I must confess to a little “blog envy”. Mine was cluttered by a lot of extraneous “counters”, maps and other widgets that I have added over the last few years and don’t really need or even use. So, I did a little spring cleaning on the blog. (I know, it probably needs some more cleaning!)

Then it hit me.

Are there things that I have allowed to clutter up my life? Are there little extra “widgets” that take my focus off of Jesus Christ? Not that they are inherently wrong. But do they keep me so busy maintaing all those little extras that I slowly lose focus on the main thing. So, I am doing a little Spiritual spring cleaning. I am looking to simplify my Spiritual focus and get it solely and squarely on Jesus. I think that makes sense. That is even Biblical.

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24 RSV

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What happens when we pray?

I am involved in a “Bible Study” on Thursday nights. We are using the book, Disciplines for the Inner Life by Bob Benson, Sr. and Michael W. Benson. I am not sure that I understand all that the Benson’s were trying to do when they wrote the book. But that’s OK. The book includes tons of “meditations” or passages from various Christian writers and thinkers.

In this week’s readings, I found the meditation by Emilie Griffin, Clinging -- The Experience of Prayer to be the most thought provoking in a Spiritual sense. She says, “What happens to people who pray is that their inward life gradually takes over from their outward life.”

That sounds very much like a Wesleyan understanding of Holiness and Sanctification. Isn't that the way we as folks who proclaim Holiness understand Sanctification to be? Isn’t it the Holy Spirit indwelling us and causing us to live outwardly in a way that reflects that we are inwardly being progressively made pure?

All I know is that I am thankful to God for His Holy Spirit who came to indwell and guide me day by day. I am thankful for the process that began so many years ago.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Walking versus Posing

If I'm not walking, then I'm just posing.

I guess I need to be reminded of that from time to time. This is especially true in terms of my Faith. I am reminded again of the differences between “Saving Faith” and “idle faith”. James 2: 14-26 reminds me of several kinds of Faith.

There is an Intellectual Faith found in verse 17. Here it talks about knowing the concepts and knowing the lingo, but not putting it in to practice. There is an Emotional Faith found in verse 19. Even the demons have an emotional response to Jesus. These are tragic examples of dead faith or idle faith. Then there is a Living and Active Faith as found in verses 21-26. Abraham and Rahab are great examples of a living and active faith in action. They are recorded in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. Here is what it says about them and some others.

  • By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.
  • By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
  • By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.
  • By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.
  • By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
  • And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
Now look at all of this in light of Titus 1:16. “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” These are very strong words, wouldn’t you agree?

Here it is clear that profession of faith by itself is an intellectual or emotional response. Without evidence of God at work in our lives there is an implied denial of God’s power and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Without steps of Faith (actions) and walking in obedience (actions) we are just standing still. We are going nowhere. We are just posing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Great Post on Another Blog - "Bad Enough"

I am very fortunate to have several men of God who I interact with on a frequent basis in my secular employment. One of them I work with as a colleague. Several others I interact with due to the nature of my job. One of them blogged on the topic of Sin the other day and I have been thinking about it for several days now.

Rather than try to take a similar look at the same topic, I am just going to recommend that you visit his blog and view the specific post that I am referring to. The name of his blog is The Bear's Den and the post that I want you to read is entitled Bad Enough.

I know we share some of the same readers of our blogs. But some of you have probably never visited his blog from the link on my blog. So here is a chance to visit a Brother in Christ's blog and have a chance to have his post minister to you the way it ministered to me.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Talmudim or Disciple?

Am I a “talmudim” or a “disciple”?

Is there a difference?

Well, first let’s look at a disciple. What is a disciple? A disciple is a student of a particular teacher or leader. Jesus had disciples. He said “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 KJV. So, it must have been something worthy of seeking after, otherwise Jesus would not have put such a qualifier on it.

So, then, what is a talmudim? A talmudim was a very close follower of a rabbi. Many referred to Jesus as rabbi. So that is an appropriate way to look at it. Biblical history tells us that talmudim would walk behind the rabbis and follow them wherever they would go. Now think for a minute about the conditions of the Judean desert. Hold that thought and I’ll come back to it in a minute.

So how do we get a better grasp on disciples and talmudim? Well, the best way might be to compare them in this way. Many religions and philosophies have students and disciples. And they are ardent and fervent.

Consider some of the great Greek philosophers like Plato and Socrates. They certainly had followers who wanted to be like them. They wanted to learn everything that Plato and Socrates knew. They wanted to absorb all they could from those great minds. They were disciples.

Now contrast that with a talmudim. He wanted not only to know what the rabbi knew. But he wanted to be what the rabbi was. Now there is a subtle yet undeniable difference. And that has great application to us as Christians and those who would seek to be Holy. I don’t want just to have an intellectual relationship with Jesus. I want to live my life for Him. I want Him to come and live inside of me. I want to be like him in all that I do.

OK, remember up above where I told you to hold the thought about following a rabbi around in the desert? Well consider the following Jewish saying:

The best English translation may be this. “May you be covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi!”

That is an odd thing to wish upon a friend. But back in the time that Jesus walked the earth it was a well wishing. To wish someone to be covered in the dust of their Rabbi was to wish them to become as righteous in the sight of the LORD as he appeared to be. Talmudim ~ Disciples of a Rabbi would walk behind him as they traveled along. In the Judean desert he was bound to kick up plenty of dust.

So I say to you in love this Hebrew phrase:

Halevai Sh'titkasea ba-avak shel harav shelcha Y'shua ha Maschiach!

May You be covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi Jesus the Messiah!

And your response as a talmudim is to answer:

Heve metabek bafar chamim!

May we be covered to obtain His Righteousness!

May I be covered in the dust of His Righteousness.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

When we pray

What happens when we pray?

Emilie Griffin says the following in her book, Clinging - The Experience of Prayer.

"What happens to people who pray is that their inward life gradually takes over from their outward life."

I think this is one of the keys to understanding the life of holiness. So often we feel the need to struggle and strain to produce holiness from the depths of our being. Like it was there all along. We just needed to squeeze it out. But that is not the way it is. Rather, as we pray and seek holiness, the Holy Spirit begins to change us slowly from the inside out. And the end result is that we are not squeezing holiness out of ourselves so much as allowing it to flow from our heart that has been changed by God.

How does this fit with your understanding of Holiness and Entire Sanctification?

It reminds me that I must maintain a residence in my heart fit for the Holy Spirit to dwell. Only then will I be able to live a holy life. Only then will people see Jesus in me.