Archive for the ‘ Parable ’ Category

Re-17 but not 17 Again

WIN_20160109_11_45_22_Pro.jpg

Today is my amazing mother-in-law’s birthday.

Also, it is what I call my Re-birthday.

17 years ago today, in a small Nazarene church in Bloomington, IL, I realized that I believed the Gospel message. Jesus got a firm hold of me, and that is when everything began to change for me. It took about six more months for it to really mean something to me, but the change was evident even then. (Ask my parents, who, at the time, were annoyed with my sudden music choices and leaving radios on around the house.)

The point of all of this, then, is that Jesus is Lord. And the picture above shows that I celebrate by baking a cake, and I serve it to others.

Why?

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:7, 10, 24

Just like the song says, this wretch was lost and dead, but now I am found and alive. This calls for celebration!

Therefore, I finish with the full reason for this post by quoting Jude (3):

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Let us celebrate our common salvation and share this faith with our fallen world!

 

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 11/30/2014

A little birdie told me to tell you to find some wisdom at Proverbial Thought!

I remember seven years ago, I was sitting on Arizona State University’s main campus waiting for some friends to get out of class. We were going to meet up for a quick dinner (I was not a student, but they were … in fact, I was practically homeless at the time!), and then go to the weekly Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) meeting. I was sitting in the middle of the watery area near the Union reading my Bible, specifically Matthew 26 (verses 25-27, in the NIV):

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Immediately after reading this, I looked up to see a bird flying overhead, performing all sorts of aerial acrobatics.

Then this poem came into my head.

It is rather fitting considering we just celebrated Thanksgiving in the good ol’ USA, as it is a reminder to focus on how God provides for us.

O birdie

O birdie in the air,
flying to and fro and everywhere,
what is it that you think about?
Do you worry about the clouds?
Is God a concern of yours?
That He is your real food source?
Do you contemplate people?
Do you wonder if they are real?
If God made you, then He made them,
so do you think about heaven?
Of all the cares that you have,
is it where you get your next bath,
or just maybe … perhaps …
that this world will not last?
But why should you care about that?
Do you know God controls your path?
O birdie flying oh so free,
Will you please share your thoughts with me?

Not So Faust …

Make a deal with Wisdom and read more at Proverbial Thought!

I read a story in high school, that I think actually played a role in my responding to Christ’s call.

The story has many variants over the centuries, but I will relate the version from my high school textbook.

Faust was a man who felt he had learned all he could. He became bored with life and lamented not being able to learn more. So he made a deal with the Devil: in exchange for his soul he could receive earthly knowledge and pleasures. After a certain amount of years, the Devil would come to collect.

Faust lived for many years growing in knowledge and enjoying many pleasures. After those years, and knowing that his time was growing short, he purchased a Bible to use to defend himself when the Devil would come. He carried the Bible everywhere with him.

One night, while Faust was eating dinner, there was a knock at the door. He went and opened the door, and there stood the Devil. In that moment, Faust realized he had left his Bible on the table. There was no time to get to it. The Devil took the man’s soul down to Hell.

When I became a Christian, I read the story of Simon the Magician in Acts chapter 8 (ESV):

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed. . . .

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Here are some lessons to be learned:

  • There are many today who offer the message that we can get happiness, health, and wealth in this world. This kind of teaching says that a) we can tell God what to do for our every whim, b) we can buy our way into the Kingdom of Heaven, and/or c) we can earn a better standing with God.

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
John 15:20

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:5-9

  • Many believe that it is enough to be a good person, go to church, and/or own a Bible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
Psalm 14:3

And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
Mark 10:18

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Romans 3:20-25

There is nothing we can do to escape Satan’s grasp nor the wrath of God. Jesus paid the price that moves us from being children of Satan (John 8:44) to saving us into children of God (1 John 3:1). Through Christ’s faithfulness we can have faith that Satan has no lasting power over us, that sin has no lasting hold on us, and we are God’s loved and redeemed children!

Trinitarian Elements of Doctor Who!

Find wisdom in unlikely places, such as through the thoughts of a rag-tag group of pastors, lay-leaders, and a young woman at Proverbial Thought!

If you have followed by blog for a reasonable amount of time, you may have learned I am a Whovian, a fan of the British sci-fi television show Doctor Who. The Doctor is a time-travelling alien who looks human, but he is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. He is able to escape death by regenerating (all Time Lords can do this), but this has the side-effect of changing his appearance and personality while still being in essence himself.

The topic at hand, however, is one of his companions. He picks up companions frequently, usually from Earth but not always. For the show, companions act as a sort-of stand-in for the audience to ask the questions we might ask … or to simply help move the plot along.

Before I continue, however, I must warn of possible spoilers, specifically about an episode from Spring of 2013, The Name of the Doctor. If you do not wish to have anything spoiled as you watch through the series, you may wish to stop reading now!

How the Trinity Works Its Way into Doctor Who

In the above mentioned episode Clara Oswald helps the Doctor in a big way.

It must first be known that she is called “The Impossible Girl” because she was first seen earlier in the season in an episode in humanity’s future in which she saved the Doctor and his companions. In that season’s Christmas special, she saved the Doctor in Earth’s past.

This is the episode in which we find out how she could have existed hundreds or thousands of years in the past or future and exist in the present.

Clara “Oswin” Oswald, to save the Doctor from being torn from Time/Space by an enemy, jumps into the Doctor’s personal Time-stream. In doing so, copies of her are seeded throughout his lifetime to help him at important junctures in life and thus help him retain his Time-memory and not cease to exist. (Yes, it is very complicated. Just know that she was able to help him in every regeneration the Doctor has had.)

Recently, I have read some articles critiquing newer episodes, especially in connection with Clara’s personality and memory of these other events.

A friend and I noticed how religious some fans get over this show, and how like Christians they act over “dogma” and ideas they have but do not fully understand about the show and its characters.

How Clara Is Like the Trinity

In this similarity, Christians do not understand things such as the Trinity, and this misunderstanding throws off other elements of their theology.

The Doctrine of the Trinity is simply that God exists as three distinct Persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) yet is a single Being. The word “trinity” never appears in Scripture, but it has been deduced from Scripture (e.g. see Matthew 3:16-17 which has all three Persons present simultaneously).

Clara helps demonstrate this (and, please remember from here on out that nothing can adequately explain/compare to the concept of the Trinity. Our finite brains will always struggle with this concept) in that while she was interjected into various points along the Doctor’s timeline, each “incarnation” experienced birth, life, and death in each context. Therefore, while each and every “Clara” is, was, and will be Clara, they are never exactly the Clara who is the current companion of the Doctor.

In a sense, she is one being who has been many persons in the Doctor’s life.

It is no wonder, then, that so many people, many of whom are not necessarily Christians if not agnostics/atheists, struggle with this concept of Clara.

If Christians have been arguing about this concept for two thousand years, why should we expect anyone to grasp a fictional adaptation (that was not intended as such by the writers of the show)?

Unsound … and Okay

Make sure your soul is okay and find some wisdom at Proverbial Thought!

My wife and I recently watched a movie about the battle between good and evil. Angels and demons fought over the lives of humans, and what could have been purely a love story was about more of the battle for our souls.

They included the basic elements of good versus evil, grace, forgiveness, and the power of love. These were masterfully portrayed.

However, I must say, I disagreed with so much of the theology of the film. They twisted basic understanding of good and evil and the character of God. They elevated the importance of angels and demons. They made the Universe out to be God.

That being said, I still liked the movie, overall.

It may have been theologically unsound with un-biblical ideas, but I thought it was okay.

There was this overarching theme of how important it is to love unconditionally and that we play important roles in each other’s lives.

I can hear all of the voices in the Christian realm complaining about its New Age-y messages and dangerous ideas, and all I can think of is “Would these people have reacted the same way as the Pharisees did to Jesus’ parables?”

I am in no way comparing a modern movie (with clear theological issues) to Jesus’ words, except to point out that Jesus told wild stories to get important messages to people … if they were willing to listen.

And [Jesus] was teaching them many things in parables . . . And he said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Mark 4:2-9

The Virtuous Bride

As I mentioned the other day, over the past weekend I officiated a wedding for some friends. Tuesday was my parents’ anniversary. Tomorrow (Friday) is our anniversary!

In honor of all of these marriage celebrations, here is an excerpt from the message I shared at my friends’ wedding this past weekend. It is slightly tweaked for their sake, and I did not include the bulk of the text, just the gospel part with chosen readings!

 

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:10-12

Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go till I had brought him to my mother’s house, to the room of the one who conceived me.
Song of Solomon 3:4

Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
Ruth 1:16

 

God also sought a virtuous one to trust and “do Him good”. Romans chapter three tells us that there has never been anyone who was able to perfectly live up to God’s standard of holiness and goodness.

Therefore, God did not wait to find a perfect companion. He came Himself, in the Person of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to live the perfect life of obedience and faithfulness. Jesus then died a horrific death on a cross to bring about the forgiveness of sins for all who believe.

Those who believe become members of His Church, the Bride of Christ worth more than all the riches of the world, to live with Him as that perfect companion for all eternity. At Jesus’ return, he will bring His Bride to Him at the Wedding Banquet! He will be our God, and we will be His People!

Playing for the King – The Little Drummer Boy

Get a dose of wisdom from Proverbial Thought!

For the next several weeks, as we build to “the most wonderful time of the year,” I am going to look at some of my personal favorite Christmas carols. Why not start with my longest-running favorite?

Carol of the Drum

The Little Drummer Boy started out in 1941 as a song by Katherine Kennicott Davis and by the name Carol of the Drum.

Here are the lyrics:

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we’ll bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum
When we come

Baby Jesus, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give our King, pa rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
Shall I play for You?, Pa rum pum pum
On my drum

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

Why it is one of my favorites

First, I refer you to “The Parable of the Talents” from Matthew 25:14-30 (ESV):

 

 

14 For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 Well done, good and faithful servant.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.

29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Here is what I want to say, then, about the song:

We know that God has entrusted us with responsibility in this life. He has given each of us gifts, be they abilities/talents, understanding, or the fruit of the Spirit. It can come in any form and varies from person to person.

Like the Little Drummer Boy, there is something we are tasked with doing. (I am going to reveal a secret to you: no matter what, it includes sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to increase the Kingdom of God!)

Like the Little Drummer Boy, if we do our something to the best of our ability to give glory to God and make Him happy, God will smile on us.

It does not matter if we are rich or poor, eloquent or a stutterer, well-known or easily over-looked; if our goal is to play our part for His pleasure, we will one day hear our Lord say “Well done, good and faithful servant.”