December 2008

In A Word, WORSHIP! 


I hope you enjoyed the holiday. For some it’s already over; back to work. For others it will end perhaps on Sunday evening as you head back to the real world. Ah yes, the real world. May I say a little about that. After all the excitement, not much has changed, has it? Looking back on the “Advent” of Messiah long after His death and resurrection, long after Pentecost and the coming of the Comforter, the Apostle Peter said something that sounds remarkably like how we feel after celebrating Christmas: “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying- ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ ”

So in the real world it’s very natural to think as these “scoffers” did in Peter’s day; nothing really has changed. The world is still in a mess, corruptions, scandals, tragedies, and much more are still all too common. But according to the Biblical narrative, in a sense, everything has changed. In a word, the promised deliverance from man’s fallen condition has become reality and this is The heart of the Gospel. With the birth of God’s Son Jesus, a new creation was birthed in human flesh. We’ve celebrated Advent-the season of expectancy with the original cast who were alive to actually witness that birth. We have read the old stories not only of the historical place and event, but we have read other Scriptures-both from the Old Testament and the New to get a fuller view of the event: not only what happened, but why and for what purpose, with God’s own commentary on the work that He himself had accomplished in every detail.

Now it’s time for our response and if we have even faintly understood the Christmas message, the response of our entire being worthy of God’s great deliverance.  A response that begins with Hymns of praise as no doubt some enjoyed as part of our Christmas celebration, but a response that leads to an act of worship Saint Paul calls, presenting these bodies redeemed from the curse and bondage of sin, as living sacrifices. This he calls our “reasonable worship”. While the glow of Christmas is still there, before it dims and you go back to life as usual, join me in meditating on these incredible words from Romans 11:32-12:2, and responding as millions of others around the world have done and continue to do.

In the midst of the old creation that is passing away, is a new one just getting started-do you see it with the eyes of faith? If you see it, you will find yourself worshiping!

May you have a blessed new life in Christ in the new year.

Endings that Bring HOPE of New Beginnings

I am hoping that you will follow the link in my Advent post to the great orientation to this year’s theme and Scriptures. If you do you will find a special surprise for your spiritual meditations: “The focus on endings to come that bring the hope of New Beginnings”.

I happen to believe that it is precisely this emphasis in the Gospel that has been tragically neglected in American Christianity and means that we have largely failed our own society by failing to include this part. And that is that the announcement of the coming to earth of God’s Promised Redeemer and thus His Kingly rule, means the utter judgement, destruction, and replacement of the world’s kingdoms and powers. And that is precisely why it is such Good News. deathbylove

In keeping with this theme, “ending that brings the hope of new beginnings”, I have started reading a new book called, Death by Love. I plan to take my time on this one because I really want to understand the main author’s view of the death of Christ. It will be the first book I have read by Mark Driscoll.

I have just started so I will let you know what I find as I go along. I always try to do a preliminary survey of a book like this before digging in- like reading the preface ( a good author will often tell exactly why she/he wrote it and what they are trying to accomplish), the table of contents, the index, the notes, and the Scripture index. I will leave you with this morsel from the preface:

One theologian has called the cross the great jewel of the Christian Faith, and like every great jewel it has many precious facets that are each worthy of examing for their brilliance and beauty… most poor teaching about the cross results from someone’s denying one of these facets, ignoring one of these facets, or over emphasizing one of these facets at the expense of the others… such narrow and reactionary theology has tragically caused the beauty of the cross to become obscured by the various warring teams that have risen up to argue for their systematic theology rather than bowing in humble worship of the crucified Jesus.