Monthly Archives: October 2018

What He Has Done & What We Should Be Happy He is Doing!

He’s “King of Kings and Lord of Lords!” He’s the “Ruler of the princes/kings of the Earth!” He sits “Far above all rule and dominion, above all the powers, above every name that is named in this world and any other world, present or future!” He “is the Lord of the dead and of the living and the Lord of Sin, Death and Life itself!” In Him, “all things without limit ‘hold together’!” He’s “the Prince who brings peace and hope and assurance that on a coming day of His choosing all wrongs will be righted and both victims and their impenitent, exulting abusers will receive what unlimited wisdom and love with bring to pass!” When He was here, visible to the human eye, touchable by human hands and hearable by the human ear He revealed His Holy Father by going around healing and blessing and delivering and assuring and fiercely opposing and exposing and…teaching!

He did all this in living! He rebuked disease in every form and ordered demonic power to leave; He confronted Death at funeral processions and in tiny bedrooms and with a word transformed sobs and heartache into laughter and praise that God had made Himself present there and He brought fellowship and self-respect to people who were shunned and isolated by their powerless and fearful neighbors. All this He did in living and He did no less in His dying—He did more in His dying because as he said Himself, “My Father loves Me because I lay down my life that I might take it again!” (John 10:17-18)

Like His Holy Father who sends the rain on the thankless, the evil, the rabid atheist, the godless abusers, the religious leaders who are whited-sepulchers and lukewarm believers Jesus gave and offered purpose and power, life and understanding to humans of every class. And He did it not only because they needed it—He did it to proclaim that this is what GOD wanted for them. In watching Him people were seeing without understanding that God was reigning in their presence, in their bodies and minds, in their homes and in their families, in their daughters and sons.

And it’s true—much of it was miraculous and could only be manifested by someone such as He was. But it was bigger than miraculous—the miracles were also messages within a grander message. In Him we’re not seeing astonishing though temporary transformations—in Him and what He did God was saying, “See Me! See what I’m offering you! See what kind of God I am! Don’t just see the miracles—don’t just see the bread that could be a meal for a family becoming a meal that fed thousands. See ME expressing My heart by healing and feeding and liberating! Don’t ask why all weren’t healed and fed and liberated! Don’t wrestle with why I didn’t make Myself miraculously present at all times and everywhere—rejoice that I showed Myself anywhere at any time. Know that IAm! Know that in Jesus Christ you have seen Me and so trust Me. Know through Him, the resurrected and glorified Lord Jesus that I can be trusted and that a day will come, in the “fullness of time” when you in wide-eyed speechless joy will see that what I have done in a spellbinding manner in Him was a revelation of the nature and unchanging character of my Kingship and reign.

“In the light of His death see your own! In the light of His mission see your own         purpose for being! In the light of His vision of Me, see your own! See the rain and the sunshine the way He saw them—My gifts to all. Don’t doubt Me because right now not everyone everywhere experiences My gifts; be happy that anyone anywhere experiences them. I purpose all that is freeing and for the heart’s upifting. See the past miracles as tokens of My reigning presence in a world that lost its way by walking away from Me. Know through Him that My way of reigning is not by violence or corruption or sheer punitive means. Imagine how this world could have been and could be if the human family—if you, the Church—acted and thought and taught as He did and believed as He did.

“In Him, within the limits of just one human person, I have experienced the hurt and the pleasure, the ugliness and the beauty, the glory and the gloom of life as a human. I saw and experienced injustice and shared what And by this I wanted you to know that I take your pain, loneliness and the oppression seriously and in raising Him from the dead to an unending climax of all that is wondrous and right I show you who I am and what I’m about.

“You wouldn’t like me nor could you worship Me freely in love and joy if I were nothing but almighty power. You could never trust Me and gladly commit yourself and all your beloved ones to Me if I were heartless wisdom and self-centered in My limitlessness. You could never share with anyone a Story about Me if I loved only some of you that I have created and if I had purposed to bring only a select handful to life eternal. Believe Me, believe in Me and believe in Me through My Son.

“And believe this, My work in Him has not ceased because you can no longer see Him (though you will see Him in a coming day). In light of Him I continue to express My kingly reign in its nature and purpose in the midst of My enemies (Psalm 110).

“A day of My choosing will come when My Lordship will be known to all but in the meantime remember this, you can see My reign in anyone, anywhere you see human life respected, where leaders, men and women, nations and governments, reign in solidarity and unity, where a just and righteous order is sought and worked for, where orphans and widows, the vulnerable, powerless and voiceless are noted, where their pain is felt, where their needs are supplied or at least where the wise attempt is made to supply them; there, where human beings are given the opportunity to be what I intend them to be, THERE I am revealing My kingdom power!”   (The heart of this last paragraph is from Mortimer Arias.)

(Holy One, in the Lord Jesus you have not only saved us for you and one another, you have saved yourself for us. In Him we who have been blessed with the truth about Him, see who you are despite what nagging questions, layers of bad religion, bad religious teaching and the awful suffering of a world in agony bring to our minds. Grant us an even clearer vision of you through your Holy Scriptures given to us by faithful trustees and by your work among us in daily living so that we will doubt any doubts that make us feeble. Empower us that we might admire you more in a grander view of you that brings you nearer to us and we to you. Help us to be happy that you are manifesting your glorious kingdom power in countless homes and relationships all over this world and strengthen us in this happiness that we might feel free to commend such people and tell them in truth who it is that is blessing them in this glorious manner that they might turn to you in thankful response.  We’re coming to trust you more as we begin to see you more clearly in Him through whom we offer this prayer, The Lord Jesus Christ.)

G.B. CAIRD & “AMATEURS” & “BALANCE”

It’s humans God created. It’s humans God communicated and continues to communicate with. It’s via humans that the Spirit of God has given us the Holy Scriptures and not by Dictaphones. I’m content to believe with Jesus Christ and His commissioned witnesses that it is GOD who speaks to us in the Scriptures whose origin and canonization were superintended by His Spirit.

I think I do understand that such a common view generates many questions but I’m not particularly interested (especially at this moment) in theories of inspiration, canonicity debates or current literary/hermeneutical questions. I’m happy to let the scholars or those who think they are scholars or the would-be scholars—I’m happy to let those continue to debate each other about the nature of the Holy Bible.

In the end we’re all going to have to call things as we see them. I’m not dismissive of scholars! It’s probable that no day goes by that I don’t thank God for men and women who have spent years becoming specialists in some area of truth that affects the masses of us. Though I don’t live in the same world as Alasdair MacIntyre I can still sympathize with his low view of philosophical work that doesn’t stay in touch with the actual living of life. The same is true of Clifford Geertz, the cultural anthropologist, who confesses to be weary with those in his own discipline who prove the obvious one more time and then publish their findings.

I think I do recognize the need for fresh thought and critical study and I confess I don’t know what (consistent) balance is or whether it can ever be gained when it comes to determining “how much” and what is “critical study”. How much do we need to know? How much do we need to “know for sure”? “How do we know what we know?” Epistemological certainty is a never ending quest with philosophical types. Where does it stop? And in the end, who knows a lot?

That remarkable man George Bradford Caird (a teacher who had a profound influence of N.T. Wright) wrote a book called The Language & Imagery of the Bible. He begins the book with this statement, “This is a book by an amateur, written for amateurs. Only an amateur could undertake to write on such a subject, since one life-time is too short for anyone to become an expert on more than one of the qualifying disciplines. For language is not the concern of the linguist alone, but of the literary critic, the psychologist, the anthropologist, the lawyer, the philosopher and the theologian as well. A prudent expert cultivates his own garden, not wasting time in looking over the fence at what his neighbors are doing. The amateur accepts cuttings from everyone, hoping that they will take in his own soil. I am content to…”

What is true of linguistics is true of everything else. Everything is linked to something else and the truth about anything is astonishing if someone teaches us to ask the right questions; not only astonishing, but in the end and in its entirety it’s “ungettable”.

So what we all do is this: we fence off a tiny plot of ground and work in that. That makes sense and as Caird says, we take cuttings from others to make our little garden grow with some semblance of order and maybe beauty. But we’re not to nod approvingly at Caird’s point and then ignore it—it’s not ignorable! Everyone is an amateur!

And then, of course, there are “gardeners” and gardeners. Some work at it, gratefully borrowing cuttings from here and there; content to settle for what does well and find pleasure and beauty in it. And there are those who are easily carried away with the latest fashions and die in pursuit of them.

Finally there is this that I can never quite be content: how much do I need to know? And if there is a lot that needs to be known am I the one that needs to know it? And the people I sometimes get the privilege to teach, what is it they need to hear from me?

Reuben Shapcott, a long-time friend of “Mark Rutherford” (a troubled soul of many years ago) thought Rutherford’s central problem was that he got in over his head with issues too great for him. I’m not sure what to make of Shapcott’s advice. See what you make of it.

“There is one observation which I may perhaps be permitted to make on re-reading after some years this autobiography. Rutherford, at any rate in his earlier life, was an example of the danger and the folly of cultivating thoughts and reading books to which he was not equal, and which tend to make a man lonely.

It is all very well that remarkable per sons should occupy themselves with exalted subjects, which are out of the ordinary road which ordinary humanity treads but we who are not remarkable make a very great mistake if we have anything to do with them. If we wish to be happy, and have to live with average men an d women, as most of us have to live, we must learn to take an interest in the topics which concern average men and women. We think too much of ourselves. We ought not to sacrifice a single moment’s pleasure in our attempt to do something which is too big for us, and as a rule, men and women are always attempting what

is too big for them. (To the bulk of us) the wholesome healthy doctrine is, “Don’t bother yourselves with what is beyond you try to lead a sweet, clean, wholesome life, keep yourselves in health above everything, stick to your work, and when your day is done amuse and refresh yourselves. It is not only a duty to ourselves, but it is a duty to others to take this course. Great

men do the world much good, but not without some harm, and we have no business to be troubling ourselves with their dreams if we have duties which lie nearer home amongst persons to whom these dreams are incomprehensible . Many a man goes into his study, shuts himself up with his poetry or his psychology, comes out, half understanding what he has read, is miserable because he cannot find anybody with whom he can talk about it, and misses altogether the far more genuine joy which he could have obtained from a game with his children, or listening to what his wife had to tell him about her neighbors.”

MARK RUTHERFORD               BALANCE   SPIRIT   G.B. CAIRD

THE BRICKS & MORTAR OF WHO WE ARE

“There are foundational elements…people… that are the brick and mortar of who we are. People that are so deeply embedded that we take their existence for granted until suddenly they’re not there. And we collapse into rubble…..” (Daniel Cerone)

Thank God for people (young or old) who look out for us.

But if we’re very fortunate we recognize early the saving power of these unheralded people and live with the joy and strength they bring to us and we find ourselves better than we would be if they hadn’t been in our lives. And part of that inspiration is there because we treasure them so much that we desire to please them by living in honor and that desire gives us power to keep from sinking into contented mediocrity. But it’s more than that, isn’t it; they enable us, we feel, to rise above where we are into someone worth their trouble.
Thank God for people (young or old) who inspire us.

 

The noted Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson’s poor health meant he lived, as someone put it (I can’t recall who), “a lifelong crucifixion.” But from childhood he was blessed by a tender and patient care-giver he called “Cummy”.* I enjoy many of his letters but few as much as the one in which, many years later, after he had become famous, he wrote to tell her how good she had been to him, a very sick little boy. He said he had often hoped he would become “someone worth talking about” if for no other reason than that Cummy’s trouble over him would not be wasted. Well it wasn’t wasted (love’s efforts are never wasted because it’s the motivation that makes them worth talking about). They write letters to such people as Cummy and they sing songs and write books and make movies about them. RLS lived a gallant and cheerful life from the cross he always hung on and to a profound degree it was due to his tender old nurse that was looking out for him.
Thank God for people (young or old) who see our need and embrace the trouble that is us and embrace it FOR us.
With his health deteriorating and coming to a close Stevenson wrote:
Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie
Glad did I live and gladly die
And I laid me down with a will
This be the verse you grave for me
‘Here he lies where he longed to be
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.’
Thank God for people who help us to earn a fine death.
Praise to a GOD who looks out for us and wants to look out for us
* His care-giver was Alison Cunningham and one of my fine grandchildren is called Allison Cunningham. Someone who cares a lot and gives a lot.

A FEW BRIEF REMARKS ON O.T. SACRIFICES FOR SIN

1. SIN-OFFERINGS WERE GOD’S PROVISION TO ISRAEL—THEY WERE HIS GIFTS
[Leviticus 17:11]

2. SIN-OFFERINGS WERE NOT    *PUNISHED*  THEY WERE ACCEPTED. Leviticus

3. THEIR DEATH WAS THE INNOCENT SUFFERING FOR THE GUILTY

4. THE OFFERERS WERE NOT *PUNISHED* HE/SHE/THEY WERE FORGIVEN (Leviticus 4, entire chapter and elsewhere that speaks of “atonement” and “forgiveness”.)

5. GOD DID NOT NEED TO BE APPEASED, HE WAS THE ONE WHO LOVINGLY INITIATED FORGIVENESS AND KEPT THE NATION’S RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM POSSIBLE.

6. THE ENTIRE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEM WAS GOD’S IDEA TO SAVE ISRAEL AND KEEP THEM SAVED.  See Leviticus 18:1-5, note v. 5

7. THE SINNERS COULD NOT OFFER THEMSELVES SPOTLESS TO GOD BUT IN OFFERING THE SPOTLESS SACRIFICE GOD PROVIDED THEY WERE OFFERING A LIFE THEY WOULD LIKE TO GIVE. (This presumes they offered their hearts as they offered the sacrifice. It was their heart’s commitment in obedience God wanted rather than sacrifice (Hosea 6:6; Psalm 51:16-17; 1 Samuel 15:22).. God didn’t look for sinless obedience since they were already sinners when He chose them—He sought for heartfelt commitment to Him as the one true God. Be sure to read ALL of Deuteronomy 30.

HE DIDN’T SAY THAT! HE SAID….!

Jesus is talking about the downfall of his nation in 70AD [note Luke 21:32]. In apocalyptic and non-apocalyptic speech He speaks of its ruin. Surely if that were to happen the disciples would think it their worst nightmare come true and it would mean the failure of God’s promises to and through Israel. Jesus assures them otherwise and for the moment all they have to depend on is His word. His assurance to them in that day is assurance to us in ours. Read of the fearful things he speaks of and then hear his startling promise.

Luke 21:28. “When you see these things…” Read the section, please.
When you see these things lift up your heads—redemption draws near.

He doesn’t say: “When you see financial stability return and global financial chaos disappear like a morning mist before the sun.”

He doesn’t say: When you see progress in political talks and national leaders gathering to sign peace treaties and agreements to destroy nuclear weaponry and all the war-mongering ends.”

He doesn’t say: “When you see a tremendous change for the better in the moral climate and towns and cities and countries change for the better and truth and kindness becomes the order of the day.”

He doesn’t say: “When you see medical and scientific advances that truly make a difference to the daily living of the hundreds of millions of the vulnerable and marginalized.”

He doesn’t say: “When you see national and international leaders arise who work effectively for peace with righteousness and prosperity with honor and justice and blessing for all.”

He doesn’t say any of that! And He isn’t happy about what He knows is happening and will happen! He sits on a hill sobbing about these things! See Luke 19:41-44 and parallels.

Who can’t or won’t rejoice at such things that He might have said? These are and would be the work and blessing of God. We’d have to be sour to the core not to rejoice in them and want them. Let me say it again: such things are God’s good gifts [Acts 14:15-17 and 17:24-28] and they are reminders of God’s intention toward His human family.
But we won’t base our hopes on the latest political, social and international headlines. We may rejoice in democracy but when the voting majority becomes one of “the beasts” we are given the opportunity to see with greater vision and to trust only “the Son of Man” [Daniel 7].

God has not created us to labor in vain. He has not purposed that we suffer forever. He created us to love and be loved and not to abuse or be abused. While human sin is rampant in the world there will be hurt and loss as God works to bring us to a glorious finale under Jesus but pain and suffering is no eternal plan of God. We know in our bones that the agony the human family sees and experiences is not the end of the Story. Beyond sin, peace and prosperity and fullness of life is married to righteousness—they are the outcome of and invariable companions of righteousness and God has so ordained it.

When we see peace and prosperity here and there, when we see health and blessing here and there, when we see women and men of integrity in places of power and things looking as in our hearts we know “they should be” we ought to rejoice!

But until the day when the glory and smile of God cover the earth as the waters cover the sea we’ll wait, trusting, all our lifetimes, generation after generation despite the wars and cancers and broken marriages and abusive parents and abusive children and predatory power-brokers and sly, greedy officials who exercise authority against the defenseless simply because they can.

When we see all these things we’ll lift up our heads—redemption draws near.

In Luke 21 [see for yourself] Jesus has just painted a picture of national and international terror and fear and chaos. The foundational structures of their world would totter, uncreation would blaze there before them everywhere they looked and despair would rush at them like a tsunami. It was in the light of all that that Jesus said, “When you see all these things” lift up your heads—redemption draws near.”

Only fools make light of such terror and only the insensitive look at the crosses others are dying on and call them “a challenge”. Jesus didn’t make light of those terrible days. He thought them real and He wanted them to know they would be real and terrifying.

Nevertheless, Jesus has shown us that God too is real and he calls us to trust! Trust is always good and right—in the good and prosperous times as well as in calamity but its gold is purer in times of heartache and confusion and fear. Trust sees the pain and loss for what it is—
there!
real!
savage!

But enabled by God they lift their heads believing that they can either judge God by these events or judge these events by God.

Jesus did not say: “When you see all these terrifying things happen throw in the towel; trash your faith, spit on your dreams, curse your God or live your little life dominated by news headlines and worry.”

That wasn’t what He said!

In lonely bereavement in your little house, in your jobless bewilderment, in your own private agony that no one but God and you know about and about which you can’t speak to anyone—in the middle of anything like that Jesus still has the nerve to say:
Lift up your head—redemption draws near!
He not only said it, He said it from the cross!

[You want to talk to someone? You think I might do? I might not be able to help but I’d be glad to listen if you’d like to talk.]

jim mcguiggan: holywoodjk@aol.com