Archive for the ‘ Relationship ’ Category

Thankful Offering

In today’s video, I think it is pretty clear I had not had my coffee, yet! But if you look in the background, you can see evidence I was about to remedy that.*

The last entry touched on the Las Vegas shooting and how “But for the grace of God, there go I” in terms of how each and every one of us could be capable of committing such an atrocity.  Today, I look at the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian, and professor who was killed by the Nazis just days before the end of World War II.¹ Both he and James, the brother of Jesus, focused heavily on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

The Sermon on the Mount is basically Jesus’ teachings on how the Christian should live. Specifically for today, in 5:16 (ESV), Jesus says:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

If all we do are good things, but we do not really mention God, how could others give God glory? We may merely be “good people” in the eyes of the world.

Therefore, God gives us the direction we need in this matter:

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
Psalm 50:23a, ESV

When we give thanks to God, this directs people to Him! Thankfulness, a lifestyle of gratitude, is the thing that helps to center our life around Christ and leads others to Him.

A heart of gratitude not only gives the glory to God, but it can also help us to feel great and can help others to feel better.

However, the main point is that God is glorified. Gratitude, likewise, can keep us focused on Him so that we are more likely to seek His glory than to turn to anything else – including lashing out at this world and those in it.

Therefore, give thanks to God. As Paul said, give thanks in everything in your life² – yes, everything, even the bad things.

And thank you for joining me today!

daniel

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DoA – Not Dead on Arrival, but Day of Atonement 2017!

Hello and Shalom!

At the time of recording, it was the day before Yom Kippur, the Hebrew term translated as the Day of Atonement! By the time you read/watch this, it is either the actual day or after that day. (See Leviticus 16 and 23:26-32)

Either way, by our Gregorian calendar, Yom Kippur happens to be from sunset Friday, September 29, to sunset Saturday, September 30, 2017. This means it actually falls on a Sabbath, this year!

Here are the basics:

Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – was the only day of the year that the High Priest of Israel could enter the Holy of Holies – the inner-sanctum of the Temple, or Tent of Meeting during the Exodus – and offer the sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole nation of Israel.

It was possible to have personal sins forgiven throughout the rest of the year by going and offering sacrifices, but they were continuously needed.

When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, he would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the Ark of the Covenant. (See Exodus 25:10-22; 37:1-9; and Deuteronomy 10)

The Ark was first built with wood and then overlaid with gold. It is interesting to think about something that can waste away being covered with something more permanent and made to look beautiful.

Moving on, in Hebrews 9:3-4 we learn what is inside of the Ark of the Covenant (AotC).

  1. In Exodus 16:32-34, we read that an omer of manna (roughly 2.2 Liters), of the bread that was formed by the morning dew resting on the ground, was to be put into a jar and placed into the AotC. This demonstrates God’s provision for his people.
  2. In Numbers 17, we read of Aaron’s staff that budded. The story recounts that each of the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel were to give their staffs to Moses to put into the Tent of Meeting, and the one that budded – had flowers grow from it – would be God’s chosen spiritual leader – the High Priest – of the nation.
    Not only did it bud, but this piece of a dead tree had new life grow from it: flowers that attract our eyes and nose, AS WELL AS almonds. This was also placed into the AotC, and it demonstrates God’s spiritual (and emotional and other sensations!) provision for his people.
  3. Deuteronomy 10 recounts the story of the 2 stone tablets with the 10 Commandments. Originally, God gave Moses two tablets, but when Moses came down from the mountain he found the Israelites worshiping the golden calf (already breaking the first 3 Commandments!) In his anger, Moses smashed the tablets.
    When he climbed up the mountain again, God had him chisel out new tablets, and then God used his own finger to write the Commandments on the new stones. These are what were placed into the AotC. These symbolize God’s expectations for His people, how they are supposed to live.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Christians?

WELL! Hebrews 9-10 explain the relevance to us!

Firstly, we have one final High Priest, Jesus. Through His sacrifice on the cross, we have complete and total atonement! No other high priest nor sacrifice is ever needed for the washing of sins. He finished it!

Just as the High Priests of old would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice onto the AotC, Jesus’ blood is sprinkled over our hearts, cleansing us of our sins.

Now for the fascinating bit, when things get quite allusionary and allegorical!

The Temple symbolizes our bodies. Therefore the Holy of Holies is the chest cavity, and the Ark is the heart. The lid of the AotC is called the Mercy Seat.

Do you see the connection so far? His blood sprinkled over the heart to purify us?

Cool.

Thinking of the AotC being made of wood covered in gold, it is like our hearts – also something perishable – are covered and even replaced with the beautiful and imperishable! Our Atonement is attained … if we believe! … because God has chosen us through His Chosen One!

Now for the deep stuff:

  1. What about the Manna? Jesus explained in the Gospel according to John (see John 6:35, 49-51) that He is the Bread of Life. When we believe in Him, the Holy Spirit places Him within our hearts. He explained that when we eat of his flesh (Communion/the Eucharist), we join in His sacrifice and are spiritually sustained.
  2. Likewise, what about the staff? Jesus explained a chapter earlier (see John 5:24) that whoever hears His word and believes Him who sent Him (God the Father sent God the Son) has eternal life.
    In other words, when we believe in God and Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we are given new life! Just as the staff budded, we are awakened to and promised eternal life!
  3. And the Law written on the stone tablets? This time, we look back at an Old Testament prophecy from Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 31:31-34). God tells us there that through the Atonement and the Holy Spirit we have God’s law written on our hearts. We now know what it looks like and how to live out the Law, i.e. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. We cannot fully and properly live out the Law, but through Christ, it is fulfilled and we are helped by the Holy Spirit!

How amazing is that?!

That is how the Day of Atonement is still applicable. However, instead of looking forward to a day when our sins can be atoned for, we live daily in atonement thanks to Jesus the Christ!

May your Day of Atonement be blessed as you reflect on what God has done for you.

Daniel

 

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!

 

The Joy of the Lord (and Rend Collective)

I spent the past two years working on a Master of Education in Secondary Education. It took quite a bit of my energy, especially over the past five months when I had to prepare for then fulfill my student teaching experience (in a 7th Grade Math – Pre-Algebra) classroom.

Needless to say, I was busy. I still worked. I had classes and observations to do. That is why this blog took a hit in terms of my attention. This past five months, though, were some of the most tiring and full periods of my life. Only a few things kept me going:

  1. Working at the coffee shop gave me opportunities for ministry. I was involved with bolstering faith in others, practicing my apologetics skills with many non-Christians, and played a role in a couple of people becoming Christians!
  2. My wife and friends encouraged me A LOT!
  3. At my weakest moments, God reminded me of His immanence (which was a common theme in messages I heard this past weekend).

My most common reminder was through a song.

Whether on the radio or during interactions with others in which the song would play, Joy of the Lord by Rend Collective would be exactly what I needed to feel a little stronger for my task.

Joy Of The Lord

Rend Collective

Though tears may fall
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
Though my heart may fail
My song will rise, my song will rise to You
While there’s breath in my lungs
I will praise You, Lord

In the dead of night
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
When the waters rise
I’ll lift my eyes, I’ll lift my eyes to You
While there’s hope in my heart
I will praise You, Lord

The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
In the darkness I’ll dance
In the shadows I’ll sing
The joy of the Lord is my strength

When I cannot see You with my eyes
Let faith arise to You
When I cannot feel Your hand in mine
Let faith arise to You
God of mercy and love
I will praise You, Lord

Oh You shine with glory Lord of light
I feel alive with You
In Your presence now I come alive
I am alive with You
There is strength when I say
I will praise You, Lord

When sorrow comes my way
You are the shield around me
Always You remain
Like courage in the fight
I hear You call my name
Jesus, I am coming
Walking on the waves
Reaching for Your light

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
~Nehemiah 8:10b, ESV

There is something to be said to be able to “taste and see that the Lord is God!” And it is a blessing to “[take] refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8) That we can trust Jesus when He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
~Exodus 15:2, ESV

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 04/12/2015

Find that woman Wisdom (for example, Proverbs 8) through the thoughts at Proverbial Thought!

There are two ways of looking at things (for my purposes today, at least): literally and allegorically. This is done with the Bible regularly ( in both good and correct ways and bad and incorrect ways). The Bible itself does this, as many verses in the New Testament make the allegorical connection to Jesus with Old Testament verses.

Likewise, the poem today has a double viewing in mind.

The literal view is based on the relationship I have with my wife. The message I would point to for others to take is that your significant other, specifically your spouse, should constantly point you back to God in the name of Jesus and through the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The allegorical view is based on how God relates to us through His Church.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:22-27, ESV

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
Revelation 21:1-3

Love your husband or wife. Love the Bride of Christ. In so doing, you will see and share the love of Christ.

The woman in my life …

… makes me happy and brings me joy.

She leads me to the Father and pushes me to praise my Lord.

The woman in my life is my gift from Jesus Christ.

She mixes me up inside and also makes me smile.

The woman in my life …

… brings the love of God and shows me there is still good.

She brings me to a place of love and guides me to my God above.

This woman is a woman meant for a godly man.

 

If I am considered godly …

… then I must do more to honor our sovereign Lord.

I must seek His Heart and keep doing so in my heart.

If I am considered godly, it is because He made me.

I will keep my God first and give Him all He deserves.

If I am considered godly …

… then I must try the hardest to remember Jesus,

because I cannot forfeit what my Lord has sent.

 

The woman in my life …

   … helps me be godly.

     If I am considered godly …

   … it is because of a godly woman in my life.

An #OldFashionedMovie Review

It may be old fashioned, but God’s wisdom is always the best. Get some at Proverbial Thought!

This past weekend was St. Valentines’ Day. A couple movies were released just in time: 50 Shades of Grey, and what I call the Anti-50-Shades-of-Grey, Old Fashioned. I saw one of these. I saw it twice, actually: once as a triple date and once with our youth group.

Obviously I am talking about 50 Shades … no … wait …

Old Fashioned poster

Just Old Fashioned, I guess …

In the movie, Clay Walsh (played by writer/director/producer Rik Swartzwelder) owns the antique shop “Old Fashioned Antiques” that has an apartment upstairs. Clay used to be the epitome of the college partying frat boy, including having a successful “Girls Gone Wild” type of business. Then his life changed, and he became known more as a legalistic Christian who has rules and theories about life and love, including not being in a room alone with a woman who is not his wife (within reason, of course).

Enter Amber Hewson (played by Elizabeth Roberts), a bit of a free spirit who stays in a town until she fills her jar with enough money to fill her car with enough gas to get away. She then drives until she runs out of gas, and where that happens she stays. You probably guessed, she runs out in Clay’s town and rents his apartment. To pay for it, she gets a job at the local florist.

She makes friends with her coworkers, one a disillusioned three-times divorcee, the other a young fun-living woman. His best friends are two of his old frat brothers who stuck with him, one who lives with his longtime girlfriend and their daughter, and the other a womanizing, chauvinistic DJ. In other words, their friends do not share Clay’s views on traditional marriage and love.

Needless to say, she helps him to loosen up a little (while respecting his beliefs and values) while he shows her that chivalry is not dead. And they fall in love.

The Anti-50-Shades-of-Grey

My wife and me doing what we do ...

My wife and me doing what we do …

One reason I love this film: It is as if the makers looked at how my wife and I started out and made a “based on a true story” adaptation. (Remember, you only need 7% of the story to be “based on” a story.)

Now for the actual review:

Many people tend to think, “Oh. A Christian film. That means cheesy acting and an in-your-face “believe this right now!” gospel presentation.” In the first 15 minutes, there are a few (maybe three or four) “that could have been acted better” moments, but not cheesy. If I had to complain, it would be that the gospel could have been clearer.

I do not see that as a real problem, though. It simply leaves the door open for Christians to do their job as Christ followers. This movie can just make that job easier.

Some dangerous things:

I have no issue with dangerous. Christ warned us of dangers (John 16:33), and He, Peter, and Paul (as well as several others) demonstrated how conversations and standing up for what is right and godly can be dangerous. (I mean, come on, The Parable of the Good Samaritan? So many Jews would have killed Him for that alone!)

  • Amber is not necessarily a Christian
  • Clay has not attended church for a while (due to the “hypocrisy show”)
  • There are several scenes of alcoholic drinking
  • It deals with issues of “frat boy carousing,” one night stands, divorce, and non-believing friends

For the record: I would not change a thing! (It is PG-13, and I agree with that!)

Some of the goodness (even though I have seen it twice, I might miss a bit):

  • Out of dirty backstory comes something many can relate to: real life. As I said above, I like the movie because of how closely it hits home (both with my past and how my wife and I met and began our relationship).
  • It has many natural conversations (as in, they do not feel scripted). As the gospel is presented, it is done in bits and pieces over the course of the film, much like happens so often in real life.
  • As the story progresses, we see how choices affect others, both in good and bad ways. There are times that both of their pasts come back to haunt them. There are times when . . . morals and chivalry  the minds of others.
  • The need for a savior is made evident.
  • The Christians are not perfect! In fact, the Christian lead overcomes some of his own shortcomings.
  • God’s “mysterious ways” are shown through many characters (especially his great aunt Zella!)

Old Fashioned puts grace, mercy, and biblical love on full display. Two of my (many) favorite quotes are:

  1. “There is no goodness … without mercy.”
  2. “When did treating women with respect become the joke?” (or as my wife re-phrased it, “When did treating [anyone, men or women] with respect become the joke?”)
This is a great movie, and everyone should see this. My suggestion: only mature junior highers and older should watch this movie. It is rated PG-13, after all.

Groundhog Day, again …

While there may be nothing new under the sun, one constant we can trust is God’s wisdom. Get a taste at Proverbial Thought!

As I type this, the world has been reminded time and again about what groundhogs across the United States have said about the coming of Spring (or the extension of Winter). While the first official day of spring is March 20 (which happens to be six weeks from February 2nd), a lot of people are really wondering if there is going to be six weeks more of snow and cold or if it will come to an end soon.

What has been the primary mode for people reminding each other on social media of this grand revealing by a groundhog of the start of Spring?

Groundhog Day (1993) Poster

Groundhog Day (1993) poster, from IMDb.com

Talking about Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day.

The basic premise of this film is that a bitter man (played by Bill Murray) keeps waking up on February 2nd, the same day, over and over again. It is not until he learns to appreciate life that he can break the cycle.

The Bible touches on this, as well:

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9, ESV

The Bible gives similar, albeit more focused, advice for breaking the cycle of repeating the same things over and over:

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

But this life is not the end. As Proverbs 1:7 states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” so we need the full story.

This little story out of Acts 16 (vv. 24-34) demonstrates where the fear of the Lord should lead us:

Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.