Friday, October 31, 2008

Being One With God

God is gracious
He provides for all our needs, whether we deserve it or not.
God is compassionate
He looks with pity upon our shortcomings, and fills up our lack.
God is slow to anger
He hesitates again and again before He punishes us for our sin.
God is true
Never has he spoken a word which has proven untrustworthy
God is good in his faithfulness
He always keeps his promises in a way that is good for us.
God forgives our sin
No matter how often we sin, He is ready to wipe it away, if we would but repent

As followers of God, all God requires is that we be like Him. To be sharers in the divine character. “Be merciful as your Father in heaven is merciful.”

How radically different would your life look if you were god-like?

God have mercy on us. Through Your Spirit, let us live out your ways of mercy.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What Does "Under the Law" Mean?

A Question found in MennoDiscuss: "What does Paul mean when he says 'under the law' as in 'you are not under the law, but under grace.'?"

The way I understand it, "under the law" refers to being under the law of Moses as an authority. Paul is saying that to be in Christ, one needs not be of the ancient Jewish Temple system.

Some applications of this:
a. There is NOONE "under the law" in our modern age as there was before 70AD. The ancient temple system with it's distinct Jewish perspective no longer exists.

b. However, this does not mean that we don't deal with the same issues. Many people feel that to be a Christian one must also be under the authority of something else: a particular denomination, a particular non-Jesus theology, a particular cultural habit, a particular politcal party, a particular natinality, etc.

c. Paul affirms that it is only Jesus that saves, not anything else. Only Jesus' law, not any other law. Only Jesus' grace, not any other grace. Only Jesus' government, not any other. Only Jesus' politics, not any other. Only Jesus' hope, not any other dream, American or otherwise.

A dialogue I wrote on the subject could be found here: ... ation.html

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Living Well

A question was posted on the Young Anabaptist Radicals site: "What does it mean to live well and to die well?"

For me, to live well means to be present for others.

Being present means that I am not distracted by other concerns, expectations or by various technologies, but I am with the person who is in front of me.

Being for others means that I am not using the other for my own gain or well-being, but I am just thinking of their need and how I can best meet their need.

And in this, I meet my own needs. I am not just forgetting myself, but I am living my life through being there for the other and the One who is the Most Other. In this, I find my health and satisfaction, not because I sought my own health or my own satisfaction, but due to God's having made me that the more I give, the more I receive.

I do this in the lives of others, and in their deaths. In my context, it means that even when I contact a recent homeless person's family about thier death and they don't want to talk about him, I will do what I can to offer him the respect of remembering him, of talking about him, of crying for the loss.

I hope that I may do this with my dying breath.

Of course, this is as much a goal as a lifestyle. There are still so many times that I obtain my satisfaction selfishly, for the sole intent of satisfying my needs. But it is so much more nourishing for me to cook a stew to share than a hamburger for myself alone. Yet I write this as I am considering eating a candy bar in the solitude of my office... ah, well. I try.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Was the Book of Revelation Fulfilled in the First Century?

Part of a discussion in MennoDiscuss:

According to the preterist interpretation, there are two events in the first century that could be called Jesus' parousia (coming):
a. Jesus' coming to the Father to take up his authority over the universe. This is described in Rev. 5.
b. The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70AD, which is the judgment of Jesus against those who persecuted him and his church.

While the Book of Revelation might allow for this, I don't believe that Jesus does, for the following reasons:

1. Jesus said that "every eye shall see him", and "as the lightning flashes from the east to the west", meaning that the coming would be obvious to everyone, without dispute. Yet for every event that has been declared to be the "coming of Jesus" in the first century (or every century since then) there has been great dispute as to whether Jesus actually returned or not. And the early church after 70AD was still expecting Jesus to return-- they didn't give up on the parousia after Jerusalem was destroyed.

2. After Jesus' return, Jesus said that the people of God will be gathered to him from the four corners of the earth (Matt 24:31). This has never happened, but rather the diaspora has just become more distinct with each age.

3. When the Master comes, Jesus said, all the hypocritical leaders of the church will be cut into pieces (Matt 24:50-51), and yet we find hypocrites just as abounding in the church after 70AD as before. If not more so.

4. Jesus said that when the Son of Man comes all nations would be gathered to him to be judged according to their hospitality to the brethern. (Matt 25:31ff). Every good person will be separated from every bad person (Matt 13:49-50) This has not yet occured, but the judgment is still to come. The majority of the world will still be surprised on the judgment day as to who will be on the "good" side an who will be on the "evil" side.

Thus, I think that we need to admit that the final coming has not yet occured. Thus, Revelation is not competely fulfilled.

This does not mean that the preterist argument doesn't have some excellent points. Matt 24/Mark 13 was certainly talking about the 70AD judgment, and Revelation is certainly talking about the judgment of Roman emperors. But just because things have occured in the past at one point doesn't mean that it won't happen again.

Daniel's abomination that causes desolation was certainly speaking of Antiochus Epiphanes. That was fulfilled long before Jesus, yet Jesus said that the abomination would be fulfilled later. The reason is that not all of Daniel was fulfilled-- much of it still had to come to pass. Even so with Jesus' apocalypse and Revelation. Although much of it is already fulfilled in the first century and other centuries, there is still some that must need be fulfilled. Therefore we can expect more fulfillment in the future.

Thus is my hope. Should the eschatalogical hope have already been fulfilled, then I am sorely disappointed. But as it stands, there is much of Jesus' words that have yet to be fulfilled and I expect that to happen any minute.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Helping Those Who Don't Want Help

There is one thing though that has been obvious to me, some people that are on the street don't really want the kind of help we want to offer them for the long haul, some just want money to continue to do as they please, they don't want to really change. How do you deal with this mindset in your ministry? Or, am I missing something?-Truthseeker, on MennoDiscuss

Some people don't want help for the long haul, that's true. But there are sometimes good reasons for that. They don't want people assuming what they want out of life-- often they don't have the same goals as middle class people. Most everyone wants a change of some sort, but perhaps not the ones we want to give them.

This is how I work things in my ministry-- I offer everyone a step in a particular direction that is for their benefit. For everyone I offer a step toward Christ and an opportunity to eat, for some I offer an opportunity for posititve counsel or for extra help in getting work, or for being more healthy or for getting a detox. For a few I offer the opportunitity to get off the street (if they are ready for discipleship). But everyone gets an opportunity for one small step. Once they take that, then I offer them the next step. But they are making the decisions themselves and doing all the work themselves. Eventually, others will get involved to help them out, but everything has to be initatied from them. That way, no one is forcing them to do anything.

I believe that this also allows the Holy Spirit to do the majority of the work, rather than taking it upon ourselves. If I were just "adopting" some folks (as I have done in the past and other ministries do full time), then WE are the ones with the ideas, WE are the planners, WE are the parents. Rather, what we should be doing is just being a guide, providing small opportunities and allowing God to be the Father and the Holy Spirit being the power.

If we are being the discipline force in someone's life, then when we are no longer in the picture, that person's discipline is gone. But if dicipline is something that comes from within, by the power of God, then that discipline need never fade-- it will always be with them wherever they go.

Why am I going on like this? I don't know. But I guess I'm just saying that we need to be there for people, be patient and gentle at all times, and to be with them, reminding them God's desire for them, but not rejecting them. And then God will do the work of calling them to himself at a pace they can accept.

Am I making sense?