Christianity


I was at a class at church last night and one of the verses in the discussion was Revelations 3:20:

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20).

The word “dine” stood out to me and made me wonder why Jesus chose that word to express his indwelling relationship with us. So I did a little research on it, and I think I understand what Jesus means here, at least a little more. The Greek word means “… to eat, to banquet, as figurative of Christ’s kingdom (Rev. 3:20)”. It made me think of eating with my friends, and of the Alpha experiences where we sit around a table and enjoy a dinner and conversation before the talk and the topical discussions afterward. There is something special about sharing a meal with people you know well. It strengthens the bonds of the friendship even more. I think it’s part of the imprinting we received from God, that eating together builds a bond that other activities don’t.

Last week I was invited to the Passover Seder at a friends house on the last night of the project that took me to Michigan. It was really an interesting time spent experiencing their observance of the Passover holiday. While they were reciting the traditional Hebrew text that goes along with Passover, a section of the book Israel My Beloved came to mind. It was a period during the pogroms in Russia, where Jews had to hide from the marauding bands on horseback to survive. It made me think of a time to come when persecution of Christians may be so severe, we have to take the practices of our faith underground, and gathering around a table to eat and celebrate our religion may cost us our lives. It made me much more thankful for the times we live in now.

— The New King James Version. 1982 (Re 3:20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

— Zodhiates, S. (2000, c1992, c1993). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.) (G1172). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers

We’ve started a new series at church called Reset. resetIt’s about resetting our assumptions and conceptions of Jesus. Some of the pictures of Jesus which our pastor, Dave, went through on the first day were some I had seen other people believe, as well as accepted for myself.

“Hippie Jesus,” where God is love, don’t judge others, just accept everyone. Very much an undefined spirituality.

“Patriotic Jesus,” where God is backing our nationalistic interests, because we’re a Christian nation. (I’m not sure those that invoke a patriotic Jesus have looked around that much at the country lately.)

“Baby Jesus,” or the Christmas Jesus. He’s seen as the child that came to save, the safe Jesus, not the God/man that said:

51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Verse 51 is really sobering when you consider what He means.

“Nice Guy Jesus,” always happy and sunny, never gets mad…predictable.

“Teacher Jesus,” the good moral teacher who walked the Earth, just another prophet like Elijah, or Mohamed.

The series has made me sit back and reevaluate my vision of who Jesus is and what His mission really is. As well as how I fit into it.

— The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Lk 12:51-53). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Have you ever noticed, when you’re thinking about your life, you have a tendency to think in terms of 70 or maybe 80 years? Lately I have found myself realizing that when I’m considering what is best for my career, or what I’m going to do if money dries up, thinking about it in terms of eternity puts a much different perspective on it. It doesn’t seem as important to worry about getting ahead at work anymore. When my field of vision encompasses eternity in God’s Kingdom, what happens on earth is much less of an issue. I find I can let things go easier now: the car that cuts you off isn’t as infuriating; or when someone asks for time to talk, it’s much easier for me to make the time these days. When I extend my field of vision, the troubles of today are trivial. And I think that’s what Jesus had in mind when he said:

26 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? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

I used to read this and be frustrated about how to apply it in my life when I was worrying about how to pay the bills and have enough left over for food. But one day I realized I could go without a house, or a car, or even food at times, and I’d still be happy because I had eternity with Christ to look forward to. My field of vision had been enlarged by the Holy Spirit. How freeing it is to not worry about that anymore!

— The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Mt 6:26-27). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

A. W. Tozer can totally blow me away with just a sentence or two. He did it once in his book “God’s Pursuit of Man,” and he’s done it again in “The Pursuit of God.” And I’m not even past the second page!

The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him” (Tozer, 2006, p. 12).

I sat and pondered that sentence, and it made me realize how little I “follow hard after God” in my day-to-day life. At least what I’ve been doing lately. As I was thinking about the concept of following hard after God, I got to thinking about how much time I have wasted waiting on God to come to me, when the whole time he was there waiting for me to come to Him. And I wonder how many in this world today, who are too used to  everything being given to them, are missing out on God because they aren’t following hard after Him.

God knocks on the door to our heart, and if we accept Jesus in, then we need to get busy learning more about Him, studying His word, and loving others. I really need to discipline myself to pray more, study the Bible more, and engage in people’s lives more than I do. There’s the “D” word again.  🙂

— Tozer, A. W. (2006). The Pursuit of God. Camp Hill, PA: Wing Spread Publishers.

Have you ever wondered about the passage of time between the lines in the Bible? You know, you read a passage, and then the next chapter jumps ahead a few days, months, or years? Do you think God wants us to ponder about those periods of time, or just consider what has been written?

I’ve been studying Daniel recently, and one of the books I’m using as a resource is James Montgomery Boice’s commentary on Daniel.  I was studying the part where Nebuchadnezzar builds his huge gold statue to himself, and Boice makes a very interesting observation about something that I never considered. Just before that, Daniel is given the dream the king had as well as its interpretation by God, and Nebuchadnezzar falls on his face before Daniel, praises God, and promotes Daniel and his three friends. And then in Daniel 3:1, Nebuchadnezzar builds a huge gold statue of himself…  Huh? What led to that?! But then again, think about what happens to us in those in-between times of our lives. We’re saved, we start going to a church, and then before we know it, we’re back in those old habits again. We get caught up in work again, or the politics of office life, or the happenings in the neighborhood or our own family. Before long, we’ve lost that passion for God, and doing His will in our life. Just like Nebuchadnezzar, I tend to forget

I think God wants us to think about more than what is written in the Bible. I’m not saying build a theology about what isn’t said, just think about what you’re reading more than reading it as a piece of fiction (which you don’t have to think too hard about). Study what it says, and consider what it doesn’t say.

There is something really cool about that word…at least to me. Solitude over the past year and a half gave me time to devour a few books I wanted to read. To ponder the ideas presented in the books. To think more about my faith. Then along came a consulting opportunity that gave me the potential to build my own business. It means a four hour drive, each way, once a week. Good time to listen to courses I’ve purchased but hadn’t started. Four nights a week in a hotel that I could use to isolate myself from the normal pulls of friends and family so I could dig into the Word. But isn’t it interesting how things don’t seem to work out the way we envision at first?

The job is good. I’ve met some really interesting people over the past couple of months. One lady I’ve met, and grown to not only like but highly respect, was born in Poland, moved to Palestine before World War II started, and fought for Israeli freedom in the Ben-Gurion faction. Now when I say she fought, I should say she was a member of the self-described “most militant terrorist group” within the Ben-Gurion faction. So she saw the reality of what it took to make Israel a state. But this isn’t really the focus of this post.

The solitude I envisioned having over the past couple of months slipped away though. The project is demanding, so I end up working some in the evenings while I’m in the hotel. Before I started the consulting gig, I used to go down to a coffee shop a couple nights a week and hang out for a couple hours, read, talk to people, work on a post or two while I sat there. But when you leave the office, and then eat dinner, and know you have probably another hour or two of catch up work to do, it’s hard to focus for even a little bit on reading and thinking. I had forgotten how demanding it can be to bring up a new facility, let alone a new facility in four months, when it would normally be a 6-9 month project. But hey, they’re paying me in a time when a lot of people are losing their jobs, so I can’t complain. But I do miss those times of solitude.

But the past two months have shown me something I’ve been lacking. Discipline. Yep, that terrible “D” word. Discipline. Discipline to study the scriptures daily. To pray without ceasing. To spend time reading a book that enriches my understanding of God, or His plan for humanity. Discipline. I guess that’s why I have a guitar that I can’t play. Or why I’m not 6’2 and 180 pounds of lean muscle. Because I don’t discipline myself to do the things that aren’t immediately rewarding. I can discipline myself to get a job done, because I can see the progression day-by-day, or I hear about when the boss or client yells at me. But when it’s the “still quiet voice” of God that I need to be listening for, the rush of the day gets in the way.

But that is going to change. It is going to mean one thing. The television in the hotel is going to stay OFF! I don’t have cable service, or even those rabbit ears that are going extinct in a few weeks, at home. And that distraction has to stop. But I also have to force myself to shut down work at 7 each night so I have more time I can spend with a good book, or a devotional, or the Bible. I have to keep in mind that the spent studying the Bible and praying is non-negotiable. If I don’t enforce that, I’m going to fail. Fail at either the job, or at what God wants me to do with my life. And I don’t want to meet Jesus and have him look at me and ask me why I didn’t listen to Him more. Would you?

Back at work more full time these days, and this project is taking me 4 hours away from home Sunday night through Thursday. So I’m still trying to settle into the new routine, but it’s taking time away from reading and thinking…although I’ve started listening to all the good Christian authors I have on CD while I’m on the road, so maybe that time will spur some thought processes. 🙂

Next Page »