September 4, 2003 Getting God's Viewpoint

We are called to live in the light of eternity. This aspect of VISION is what can transform our lives. We are to be learning to weigh life's alternatives on the scales of eternity. To do that effectively we must learn to look at life from God's perspective. That would be absolutely impossible were it not for the fact that god has spoken- he is there and He is not silent- He has revealed his word to us in a way that when the Bible speaks, God speaks! Accordingly, we want to live our lives in a way that accords with God's purposes. This is the path to blessedness.

This point of view will teach us that much of what we know is wrong. The cross is not the world's idea of success.Laying down your life is no on the list of the seven habits of highly effective people the last time I checked. Charles Kettering said " we should all be concerned about the future since that is where we will have to spend the rest of our life." That's true, but the challenge for the christian is not to live with notions of pie in the sky, bye and bye... it is in orienting our lives for the deeper reality of God's Kingdom, living it NOW in the light of eternity!

One of the main points of our journey through the Word is to bring into clear focus thoose areas of our lives that have been distorted- that do not match up with God's perspective. We are, as it were, caught between two worlds, where we have to be very careful about what we set our hearts on.We are to be different for the right reasons.

We do this by learning our secret identity- who we are in the light of eternity. Right now counts forever-we live with the mystery and the weight of glory. Most of all we must learn to look beyond our circumstances, to lose our self centered point of view.This is no zen view of all things fusing into oneness with the universe- it is through relationships that all these truths are to be learned.We find in God's word the meaning of our pain and out pleasure and our purpose.

Most of all, we find God Himself! The Bible is the revelation of God's character, His nature and his attributes as a person . If we are to be rightly related to Him, we must get to know Him, just like we would any other person we are in relationship with.His likes and dislkes, His goals and His plans, all should be of our greatest concern.All we know of Jesus, the perfect incarnation of God, is to be found in the pages of the Bible. We see Him revealed from cover to cover progressively and surely.

Accordingly, God's great purpose for man, for time and eternity are found in His Word. His Master plan of redemption is unfolded through relationships He builds with individuals chosn to be His vessels. We want to look at how , from God's perspective, this plan has been worked out in history. After all, history is HIS STORY in the realest sense. God is still on the throne. As an organizing principle we will appeal to a Kingdom motif- we understand monarchies, dynasties and empires from our study of history. Jesus used this concept over and over again. The Kingdom is an easy way to bring out historical dimensions of progressive revelation.

September 3, 2003 Had a great Labor-less Day and the Crunch is on...

Let the blogging begin!

Leader Says Cross 'Symbol of Deliverance,' Not 'Oppressive' Agape Press

High-ranking Southern Baptist official is taking issue with a suggestion that Christians do away with the symbol of the cross because some people find it offensive. While an executive of the American Clergy Leadership Conference has called upon Christians to take the crosses off their churches as a gesture of reconciliation because some regard it as a "symbol of oppression and perceived superiority," mainstream Christian leaders like Dr. Bill Merrill of the Southern Baptist Convention are reacting with dismay. He says it is remarkable that any who call themselves Christians should take offense at the cross. Merrill says the cross is not a symbol of oppression at all, but "a symbol of our deliverance." The American Clergy Leadership Conference is a spin-off of the Unification Church, founded by Sun Myung Moon. They say peace in the Middle East is blocked by how non-Christians react to the cross.

My question- should we bother to even react to such ideas? Isn't the cross of Christ supposed to be a scandalon- an offense to the world?Peace in the Middle East is blocked because the Prince of Peace has not yet returned- if you want to pray for the peace of Jerusalem you must necessarily say- Maranatha!
Another metaphor for life?
You put a jellyfish in a stream and it will swim but if you put a jellyfish in a box it will rot.
Why Read the Bible at all?

Why read the Bible? I can give you several good reasons, but the most important is that the God who created you and me and everything else in the universe is a storyteller. He has told a story about his purposes and plans for all of life and that story is revealed and unfolded in the Bible. The Bible is God’s Story first and foremost. But almost as important, in it you can learn how God is still writing the story of your life. His desires for you are not a secret. He is there and He is not silent, and reading his story can be the most exciting, most compelling thing you have done.

The Bible changes lives- it is for transformation, not information.So the Bible is essentially an action packed thriller that you can play a part in. It is an adventure story, a historical novel, a romance, a love letter and an instructional manual for life, all rolled into one. It is the story of how God reached down and revealed himself through time to the human race- men who had no way of gaining access to this truth on their own. It is immensely readable and in it you can actually understand the mind of God.

It was not given to build up a theological tower from which to attack others. It was not given to be a source of esoteric knowledge only a few spiritual elites can understand. It was given so that we might know the history of the past and the future that God will bring to pass and respond to that truth accordingly.

One often hears of attempts to make the Bible relevant. In fact it is the most relevant source of grace on earth- if it is read in context and not treated like a smorgasbord where one dishes up a few tasty morsels here and there and hopes to gain nourishment. In it is everything we need to know for life and faith in this world.

The Bible is colorful and real- it rings true.

There is no attempt to whitewash the characters that connect with the Living God. They are fallible like you and me. It is not about bland moral mandates, it is about the possibility and promise of living in the actual presence of the Eternal God, with all the blessing and challenge and vigor and fullness of life that comes with that prospect.

The story can be messy at times. The characters are living breathing people who walked and talked and lived and died. Life can be messy at times. God is at its center and amazingly the story coheres if you keep God as the main point. He is the author. In saying that He is the author, we recognize that all the threads that make up this tapestry were woven by him- as a storyteller- he tells it like it is.

The trajectories of the truth it contains are all in accord with His sovereign plan. While it contains historical information, it remains His Story- telling of history’s setbacks and triumphs, we see He is behind it all and it is all to the ultimate glory and pleasure of the author and to the advantage of the creation.

It’s in the gripping narrative showing us how God achieves His purpose that we discover what kind of God this God is. As it is true to the truth of who we are, it is true to the truth of Who God is.God is not only it’s author. He is the principle character in this drama of redemption. This is the God who is not detached from his creation in some impassible way- He cries, he weeps , and ultimately- he bleeds. God has chosen to immerse himself in our world by putting on human flesh, making himself subject to pain , exposing himself to misunderstanding, and all the while working within the drama he is writing.

He puts his reputation on the line and links it with the actions of a people- a community of faith that bear his name for better or worse. This people he chooses contain some heroes and some deceitful characters as well, especially one that comes to be known as Israel. If he can be the God of such a lowlife, he can be yours too!

As we meet this God face to face in His story, we learn of an intimately approachable yet wild, passionate, unpredictable God who will not be put in a box by our feeble notions and presuppositions. He is the God who sings, is utterly faithful and always does what is right and just, yet is is open and persuadable like a father who loves his children. Yet he is holy, awesome and majestic at the same paradoxical time! Most of all, God is good. All the time.

The God who is revealed in the Bible is the source of all being yet he Himself has never exploited the power He has. That is what makes Him totally righteous- he always does what is right. The amazing thing that we may never wrap our minds around is that this great God is so great that He is not threatened by humbling himself to the level of his creation so that he could make a way for reconciliation of the fact that he is a stranger to us and we do not deserve to know such a great God. The whole world is ruined and corrupted by sin and sin is something this Holy God won’t put up with or condone. To be just he must punish sin. That means since we couldn’t reach him he reaches down to us in love. He did this by putting on human flesh- by coming to us in Jesus.

And this is why we read the Bible – because it leads us to Christ. As we live in and through the biblical story the attentive Bible reader soon begins to experience the story’s cumulative effect.

We read the Bible, ultimately, because it points us to Christ, He was the perfect expression of who God is. He is the one who came to search us out and bring us home to God- if we want to go. God has a priority in letting us get to know him- because without knowing God, we cannot be with him- nor would we even want to. We look around and do not realize the mess we are in is of our own doing and we need God to save us. On our own we blame God for the mess. But that’s because we don’t know Him.

Jesus draws all the threads of the tapestry of the Old Testament and makes a clear picture of them for us. The coming of Christ is the reason and purpose that all the events recorded in the Old Testament referred to, that is, God’s plan was not only that we know who he is, but that we have a right relationship with Him so that we can become like Him. Christ gave his life for us so that he could give His life to us so that he could live His life through us!

Jesus is not only the fulfillment of the history of the old testament, he is the key to the unfolding and ultimate fulfillment of the future. Just as we cannot understand Jesus without the Old testament, we cannot understand the prophecies regarding the future until we know His character.

Jesus says that the old Testament is about Him. When we search the scriptures looking to find a clue to eternal life, we invariably come face to face with Jesus. In Jesus all God’s plans and promises converge.

The Bible catches us up in this grand narrative of God’s dealings with man. It reveals that the only hope of things going well for us for eternity is all foiund in Jesus and what he did. It begins with the origin of the earth and then God’s chosen people, then the story of God’s people Israel becomes fulfilled in this True Israel- the descendant whom God promised would crush Satan! In His plan to rewrite the destiny of the world God’s story is fully revealed to us. The history of the world becomes the history of redemption. We learn that God is inclusive- he extends the call unto the gentiles. The church is the product of that portion of the story.

We read the Bible because it tells our story too.

As we immerse ourselves in the story we will encounter the real God and will come to know what he is really like. But as we respond to God’s story we will be transformed and rewritten ourselves. We will come to see the amazing unity of the story while exploring it’s amazing diversity. We will get drawn into the action and caught up in the mighty acts of God- we will come to see he means to save us too- and he has provided the means to do so. He has provided Himself!
As we live in the word we will come to see the world in a different way- we will develop eyes of the heart with which we can see the way God sees. As we do so the search to make the Bible relevant will end. We will see that the unseen truths revealed to us in the Bible will become more real to us than this world. But it will also make us see that every moment in the here and now counts forever!

So the story of the Bible is God’s story. And God’s story is the story that defines our identity and life. In him we live and move and have our being and we know of Him through what he has revealed of himself in the Bible

From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @