Thor and The Message of the Cross

do the math

For some of us that our Christians, this meme is pretty disturbing.  It mocks Christianity.  Yet, at the same time, there is truth in the meme about how our world operates.  To the logical mind, and to most “systems”, Christianity is absurd.  The great Christian apologist, Tertullian has this to say about the gospel:

“The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs to be ashamed of it.  And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.  And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible.”  (Randal Rauser – What’s So Confusing About Grace)

So, Christianity on a deeper level is subversive to the way of life that this world operates.  The Apostle Paul says this about the “absurd message of the gospel”:

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. 19 For it is written:

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.[c]

20 Where is the philosopher?[d] Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? 21 For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. 22 For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.[e] 24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, 25 because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.  (1 Cor. 1:18-25)

As I was reading at lunch.  It dawned on me how absurd my faith is, and that truly doing what Jesus commanded about how to love others is beyond my own strength.  That would be turning the other cheek when wronged instead of fighting for my rights, sacrificing for others to the point of death (even those that I don’t like), walking the extra mile, helping those in need, loving others that are difficult to love till it hurts.  According to Thor who wheels a hammer, “might is right”, and only the strong survive”.   This is the opposite of the gospel.

Yet, according to the bible, “Christ crucified is God’s power and God’s wisdom”.  So I ask myself, what does Christ crucified look like in my life?  How have I lived the gospel message that Paul is preaching to the Corinthians above?  Have I turned the other cheek?  Have I loved my neighbor as myself?  Have I love my enemies as myself?  How can God’s mercy through the cross permeate through my life?  These are questions that I ask myself daily.

 

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Pure Michigan Vacation Part I – Epworth Heights

As a family, we went to Epworth Heights, Michigan for an extended weekend.  I have been going to Epworth Heights (a Methodist Resort) since I was in my mom’s belly (1969) and stopped going in when I was 14 (1984), and my dad who is 81 since he was in diapers.  I wanted to show the Davis-Sloan’s (Jayne, my daughter Lily, and future step-daughter, Kayli) where I spent my summers when I was growing up.  The quote of the trip was either, “you were so spoiled”, or “I didn’t realize how good I had it until it was gone”.

Above is the Epworth Hotel.  It used to be a functioning hotel back in the 1940’s and 1950’s when my dad was a teenager.

Here is Kayli and Lily and by the “Coffee Shoppe” where we used to get snacks while playing on the beach.

Most of our weekends while I was growing up was at “Bluebell Hill”.  Bluebell was a sand dune right at the edge of where Epworth Heights ends and the “Ludington State Park” begins.

Here are some other memorable pictures from our time at Epworth with my parents:

  1. Lincoln Channel and North Beach:

2.   Nature Hike – The hiking trail used to be where the “dummy train” used to be.  I don’t know why we called it the “dummy train”, but the C&O train always made it’s presence known mid-mornings near the cottage that we stayed in while I was young.  Like most places, places change…

 

 

Wardle on Idolatry

What exactly are idols of the heart? He is not talking about little statues that we might worship, nor is he referring to false gods. An idol of the heart is anything we turn to other than God himself for security, significance, acceptance, and purpose. If we believe more money means more security, it can become an idol of the heart. Believing that degrees make a person significant can result in the same thing. If we rely on appearance, wit, relationships, or abilities to prove our worth, then our hearts are filled with idols.

2 Kings 17:41

[41] So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day. (ESV)

“Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and have put sinful stumbling blocks before their faces. (Ezekial 14:3)

I love this quote because Terry Wardle reveals the brokenness in all of us. To have true intimacy with God, I need to let go of my false idols. My biggest is that having a wife and family will bring happiness and acceptance. This is true to some extent that God puts the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6) whether it is our nuclear family or extended church family. Yet, my identity does not come from it, my identity comes from my union with God, and as God’s kid.  Wardle writes that “there are many who love the Lord, yet look to other things to secure their lives.  Yes, we believe in the gospel of Christ, at least in part.  We read our bibles, go to church, even serve the Lord.  Yet we keep believing that we do not measure up as we are, and we work to the point of exhaustion trying to satisfy our deepest longings.” (Wardle, Kindle Loc. 1106)  I believe that ultimately it comes down to we do not believe that God is good, and can take care of us.  We also have a warped view of our heavenly father.  Instead of calling him daddy, we either fear him and believe he is distant and does not care, a harsh task master, or a cosmic Santa Claus that will bless us if we are good, and give us coal if we are bad.

To fight this dichotomy, and work towards wholeness, I love praying the Psalms.  Psalm 86:11 says, “teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to  fear (revere) your name”.

The Apostle Paul best describes what a secure identity in Christ looks like: My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death,assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. – Philippians 3:10-11 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians3:10-11&version=CSB

Wardle continues:

Paul went on to say that everything he needed he found in Christ. His identity was secured, not by religious striving, but through faith in what Jesus did in coming to Earth to become human. For Paul, identity security and core longings were met in one place: Jesus.

Dangerous Prayers

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns.See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. – Psalm 139:23-24 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm139:23-24&version=CSB

When I go inward and allow God to transform me, he gives me dangerous prayers. Praying 139:23-24 is a dangerous prayer. In this prayer I allow the Holy Spirit total access to my being (my body, soul, and Spirit). I allow him to reveal anything that he wants to work on within me. All the good, bad and ugly comes to the surface when praying this particular prayer. It also teaches me how to be dependent on his mercy and grace as I allow him access to all of me.

Terry Wardle writes:

The words of the psalmist, “Search me, O Lord,” had to become the deepest cry of my heart. I had to allow the Holy Spirit to deal with wounds, and loss, and false beliefs I had been holding. I needed to discover that my security rests solidly and solely on this one truth: I am a child of God.

Just as Wardle writes my identity is not based what others think of me, or what I think about myself. What matters is that God is my “daddy” and that I matter to him, he loves me completely, and that there is no reason to live in fear in my life.

Galatians 4

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Michael Hansen preached in Galatians 4 this past weekend at VCDC (the church), my family and I have been attending.  One of my favorite passages about the trinity is contained in Galatians 4.  In Galatians 4:4-7 it says:

Galatians 4:4-7

[4] But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, [5] to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. [6] And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” [7] So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (ESV)

The key word in the above passage is sent (exapesteilen).  The literal meaning is to send forth or send away.  Thus the Son was being sent by God for a specific purpose as was the Spirit.  The Son was sent into the world to redeem those that were under the law that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters.  Because the Son was sent to provide the means of adoption, the Spirit was sent to dwell among us.  Literally, pitch it’s tent.

According to Ian Smith:

Reflecting on these truths, our hearts cannot sit still. We are moved with wonder as we consider the great lengths to which God has gone to comfort his people. He has sent forth both his Son and his Spirit—the Son objectively to rescue us eternally from the penalty of sin, and the Spirit subjectively to apply that rescue to our attitudes and actions in daily life. The work of the Son is “outside in,” an alien righteousness; the work of the Spirit is “inside out,” an experience in which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

In Fred Sander’s Book The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, he writes this about Galatians 4:6-7:

Sanders calls the work in tandem of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as the “two hands of the Father” carrying out the work of the Father.  Sanders distinguish between the character and nature of both the Eternal Son and Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit did not become incarnate and died for us, but the Son did.  The Son cannot live with us, but the Holy Spirit can He dwells within us. However, they are both “God With Us” and Emmanuel in their own way. Thus the work of God by the Son is incarnation, and the work of the Spirit is indwelling among creation.   Sanders discuss how the “two hands of God” works within God’s plan of salvation.  Salvation is accomplished by the Son, but applied to us by the Holy Spirit.  This idea is characterized by Galatians 3:13-14 which state “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14 ESV).  This again reveals to us how the persons in the Trinity work together in harmony to bring about God’s plan of redemption for all of us.

Finally, one of the points that Michael made in his sermon that brought comfort, is that we are God’s kids.  Because of the spirit of adoption that is within our hearts, we cry “Abba!” or daddy.  That intimacy with God through relationship leads to dependence which then leads to obedience.  This goes counter to what the Judaizers and opponents of the gospel were speaking to the young believers in Galatia.  The Galatians were caught up with religion (Gal. 4:10-11), and were trying to add things to their faith.  I think many of us, out of fear or pride, try to earn our adoption with God through empty religion.  There is no way I can be “good enough” with God and cannot earn redemption on my own.  God did it for me through Jesus who redeemed me from the curse of the law.

Again, this passage is a beautiful representation of the Trinity.

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