June 6, 2003 Grinding Nemo

Don't try this at home kids...

June 5, 2003 What you need to know about World Religions 101

Billions of people on this planet don't share your Christian faith. So what do they believe, and how can you reach out to them? by Martin Cockroft

I am 30% geek- from Thudfactor
"You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.
Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at Thudfactor.com

June 5, 2003 The Church as Resident Aliens- the parepidemos

"... the theological task is not merely the interpretive matter of translating Jesus into modern categories but rather to translate the world to Him. The theologian's job is not to make the gospel credible to the modern world, but to make the world credible to the gospel."

"What we call 'church' is too often a gathering of strangers who see the church as yet another 'helping institution' to gratify further their individual desires." (p. 138)

Quotes from - Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony by Stanley Hauerwas, William H. Willimon...A summary of the book is here. Here's a review.

The Chief End of All Flesh- saw this while surfing- read and enjoy!

June 4, 2003 Christian Zionism, Preterism and Apostacy notes

Here's an article about a new book by Wheaton College New Testament scholar Gary M. Burge that challenges the "unqualified endorsement of Israelšs politics"

June 4, 2003 IMHO section of today's blog...

The more preterist dogma I read, the more hateful and reactionary it seems to get. ..and the more I see an anti-semitic agenda that is the driving presupposition behind at least some of what's out there on the web... In fact I may just quit reading anyone who is so arrogant and condescending and hateful towards anyone who doesn't subscribe to their dogma-While I am not a dispensationalist, I have high regard for the character of many subscribing to that hermeneutic. So, Preterists, if you want to infl;uence the world for christ you'd better start with a Christlike attitude or you won't be worth listening to. In much of the Preterist online commentary, I keep running into the contention that "Dispy's" are fools, lacking intelligence, stupid, moronic, embarrassingly misinfomed, etc...While I don't think God is happy with plans of raising red heifers and rebuilding the temple Jesus tore down, Jews can come to salvation in the same way anyone else can and we need to love 'em into the kingdom...R. C. Sproul's ever deepening wade into preterism (he still claims as always that his eschatology is "in transition"cf the forward to the 1999 ed of The Parousia by Russell) is doing much to fuel it's explosion.

IMHO a bunch of the links on the recent CT blogs by Ted Olsen have NOTHING to do with Jesus. So if you want to see the state of that anomaly this is a good place to see it- what it newsworthy in the apostate church, as so many of the links have to do with so-called church doings that are actually anti christian in nature- denying Christ in every way imaginable- I guess it leaves me wondering- what's the point of calling yourself "christian" if in reality you really hate who Jesus is?

June 4, 2003 Miscellanea

Reviews of X2 to make you think.

While there, check out the return of Jim Bakker to TV...

June 4,2003 ...and on a less serious note:

You can track the tragic unfolding of the Barry Manilow injury at Dave Barry's weblog.

Dead man's car slams into gas station...

Are Lizard Lounges next? Check out "artificial hibernacula" - aka "toad condos"

Things you can read: books, signs, symbols, people, events, comics, cartoons, photographs, artwork, film, news, yourself, ideas, philosophies, religions, histories, propaganda, fine print, margins,between the lines...\

Radish dancing

June 2, 2003- Think Geek

Get your very own Duct tape wallet and other cool toys. Favorite quotes from there:

"Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance." --Sam Brown

Remember me? You tore my wings off when you were a child. Now I'm going to lay eggs in your nose.

Chaotic evil means never having to say you're sorry.

click on wallet to shop

June 2- Weakness of the Week

This teaching represents something I feel strongly , and is close to my heart.   I would say that the understanding we derive from studying the passage as we look at it will serve as a reminder to some of us, to others it can be life changing, as it was for me. It has shaped my view of ministry and challenged my understanding of my own motivations as well as showing me God's viewpoint of how I am to live my life...Once we understand that the mundane, the small thing, the insignificant is transformed by the realization that in ALL things Christ is Sovereign, we have the raw material for an abundant life- rich in every way.

We want to look at one aspect of that truth. We want to look at God's modus operandi for moving, working and ministering to the world he has created, the world that rejected his faithfulness and forfeited in doing so the ability to see him as He is until such time that he completes his plan for us in  the next age. For some of us this will be a reminder to filter all of our days through this truth, for others who hear it, this can be the beginning of a focus in life that is truly life changing... the Bible purposefully is very concrete in its expression and application of this truth.
         Deep in our conciousness is the  desire and drive to know what we were made for. Everyone wants to know their purpose. There is an abiding sense that God has something in particular in mind for our lives, but in oder to have discernment about this, weneed to know His strategy for dealing with this world and how we are to fit into that plan.

         Western culture is a very skillful teacher, and knows her pupils well. She indoctrinates her children persistently and carefully. She forms in their minds a model for success and achievement. Everywhere they turn they are reminded what to strive for.  In order to overcome this influence, we have to choose our teacher wisely. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that God's ways are not our ways. When we begin to grasp eternal values by the enlightening of the Holy Spirit, all the world holds will seem empty. 
                  Here's a letter to "Dear Abby"

    "One of the toughest tasks a church faces is choosing a good minister. A member of an official board overseeing the process finally lost patience...He had watched the pastoral search committee reject applicant after applicant for some fault, alleged or otherwise. It was time for a bit of soul searching on the part of the committee, so he stood up and read a letter purporting to be from another applicant:"

        " Gentlemen:
            I understand your pulpit is vacant and I should like to apply for the position.  I have many qualifications. I have been a preacher with much success and I have also had some success as a writer. Some say I am a good organizer- I've been a leader in most places I have been. I am over fifty years of age and have never preached in one place for more than three years. In some places I left town after my work has caused riots and disturbances.
         I must admit I have been in jail three or four times, though not for any realwrong doing. My health is not good though I still get a great deal done. The churches I have preached in have been small though  located in several large cities. I've not gotten along with religious leaders in the towns where I've preached, in fact, some have threatened me and even attacked me physically.
         I'm  not too good at keeping records; I've been known to forget whom I've baptized.  However, if you can use me I shall do my best for you...
         The board member looked over at the committee and asked, "Well, what do you think? Shall we call him?" The good church folks were aghast...Call an unhealthy, troublemaking, absentminded ex jailbird? Was the board member crazy? Who signed the application? Who had such colossal nerve!?
         The board member eyed them all keenly before he answered"It's signed the Apostle Paul"  

We might be somewhat sympathetic with that committee, because when you really think about it, Paul didn't match up with our profile of a successful church leader.  A successful church leader is someone who is a good communicator. He has poise in front of people, he has a winsome manner ,he is dressed in an understated respectability. His manner  with people is warm and affirming and yet he is  a dynamic leader. He is someone who is a peacemaker- he doesn't ruffle feathers. He is respected in the community and is looked to for leadership.

On every count that I have just mentioned, Paul did not match up. Paul was none of those things. In this case it is easy to understand why there would be questions concerning his leadership capability.
         One of those places where these questions were raised with the most frequency was the city of Corinth. Corinth had serious doubts about Paul's leadership capability. Corinth was a town where they were used to good communicators. They knew good oratory...they were not well disposed to anything less than it. Now at one time, Paul had been on the fast track to success . The prize pupil of one of the great Rabbis of his time, He had advanced to heights surpassing his peers. Yet he walked away from it all when he was faced by the Glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus on the Damascus Road.
So much for the success story of  Paul . According to 2 Cor. 10:10, Paul was now viewed as a real loser. For his letters, they say, are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptable". 

He was unskilled in speech. He stumbled over words, he oftentimes was not clear. His appearance was something else. Sometimes when he spoke he didn't look like he had had a good meal in some time.He often didn't even look like he had rested the night before.His past followed him. He was a troublemaker, some said he was a real pest.. He got into trouble with either the religious leaders or political figures everywhere he went. He cut an unimpressive figure as a leader in ministry. Given that kind of background it is not surprising that the Corinthians would call into  question Paul's capacity as a minister.

         But there were tremendous stakes involved in that question.To call Paul into question  was also to call into question his message.   But when discredit to his reputation could be used as a means for people to discredit the message of Christ he was compelled to make a defense. He felt himself drawn into having to explain why he was doing what he was doing, and why his ministry was a genuine ministry marked by God's hand. That very thing was going on at the time Paul wrote the second letter to the Corinthians.   Paul is saying "here are the reasons why my ministry is effective and authentic, despite the fact that you view me as a failure." Here is how God is choosing to use it.   There is one passage we want to look at that serves as a vital component in that defense. Turn with me to 2 Cor. 4: 7-12. 
         The people have a question...How can you possibly say Paul is a success in ministry given the fact that he is such a failure? How can his ministry be marked by the power of God?  On every count he is unimpressive. Paul answers this here. Paul's answer is going to seem very unsatisfactory. Paul's answer is that he is successful because he is a failure. Is success a function of failure?

          You are probably thinking "I am with the Corinthians...that doesn't make any sense. To them Paul did not even understand the incongruity of what he has said. His detractors basically had said, this man is ugly and he can't communicate. That is a pretty good argument from the world's point of view.  Maybe they thought that Paul had taken one too many blow to the head in his many beatings. They also argued that anyone who was a good apostle wouldn't be facing the opposition and reactions Paul was gaining fame for.  A "true" apostle would be gliding thru life on God's blessing...

Have you ever wondered what today's motivational and success gurus would say to the Apostle Paul? They would probably shake their heads and just consider him hopeless. Pauls sufferings are chronicled later in this letter.

         But this passage reveals that Paul is the only one who is upright and everyone else is upside down. As you begin to appreciate what he says you begin to understand why Paul looks so topsy turvy. The rest of the world is  all upside down.
         Paul's answer breaks down into 4 parts
I.What is God's ministry strategy?
II.Why does God use this strategy?
III. How does this strategy  work?
IV.Why does this  strategy work?
          1.    First, what is God's ministry strategy?  We have this treasure...what treasure? This is identified in the previous verse 6. : the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ..  God has chosen to take his glory, of inestimable worth and to place it in an common, mundane container- human flesh. In a  limited man, subject to failure. This is akin to placing your most precious jewels in a coffee can. Yet we would only do that to hide them, not to display them.   God does not use competence, but incompetence as a basis of his power. God's strategy is to use ineffective , weak people to use as vehicles for his ministry in this world. It seems  like  an odd strategy, but I know you know of many instances where God has chosen to do this.

    One example is Gideon. Imagine God said to us, I want you to take your church and another of like size, about three hundred people, go and conquer Baghdad, and I want you to do it using hot water bottles and flashlights. That is in essence what he told Gideon to do. God apparently delighted in using weak, ineffective, almost absurd items as a basis for a profound outpouring of his power.

There are other instances in scripture to accomplish abundant displays of his power. We see its ultimate expression in the scandal of the cross of Christ. God likes to use limitedness, finiteness as a means to  fulfil his plans. God's purpose is most effectively achieved in this way.
         Our strategy is different from God's. So many Christians are spending all their time and energy in seeking to become qualified to minister, in seeking a platform of respectability before they feel able to witness to the truth, to achieve some position from which, once achieved, and only then, can they begin to make a difference in this world for God. The fear of failure paralyzes them. I put it to you that this is a primary reason why so many Christians have so little effect on our society.     

    Sometimes it seems that God actually sets us up to fail, and we are at odds with his sovereignty. But we do not want to be like the ballplayer who steals the ball at half court and rushes down the court in the wrong direction to score the winning goal for the opponent. How embarrassing.

God deliberately brings us to failure in order to deliver us from the ultimate failure.: to stand before the judgement seat and find that we have spent our life  scoring for the wrong team. God deals with the essence of life, and we have the assurance that God is FOR us, not against us. Yet nothing is more painful to the flesh than failure.
So we now know what  form God's strategy for ministering to this world is to take...
          2 .  The next phrase tells why God uses this strategy- that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves. The reason God is excited about using weakness is that when His power is poured out and success is achieved, there is no doubt to whom the glory belongs. There is no question as to how it was accomplished.  God did it. As long as we think our ability or skill is the key to success, a part of us will take responsibility for the accomplishment. God delights to take the incompentent and work His competency through them.So God shows the world His power and glory through us. 

The idea of the vessel is also  in keeping with God's sovereign plan for us. In Isaiah, Jeremiah and Romans the imagery of the potter and the clay is used. God created us to  be vessels of his glory in this world. Isaiah 29:16.  Jeremiah 18:6.  Romans 9:21. So what is the nature of a vessel?  It is to be a container. The contents are of infinite worth when compared to the container!!!

          In many ways this is leveled directly at the misconception of the Corinthians. They thought that sucess was a function of being competent, strong, skilled, appealing, all the things they were used to being influenced by, that is how you will be an influence for Christ. Paul says it is precisely the opposite. The people who influence others for Christ is those who see that there is nothing in them that is going to be influential. To minister Christ in Christ's stead we must allow Him to live through us. This is how we are to be obedient to Him.  So the view we havew of our abilities has profound ramifications in a number of ways.
         One of these ramifications   we will develop more fully  later . It relates to pride. If we are successful in ministry, it is not because of the greatness of our ability. This principle says there is no basis for pride. It is wholly of God. God did it because  He chose to do it. We must  understand that our strength is always weakness in light of God's strength.   We will  develop this at the end of the lesson.Talent, ability, a compelling personality, these are not sufficient for the task, but his grace is sufficient for me, for power is perfected in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9
         The positive ramification is that success in ministry, seeing God work in our interchanges with one another, and as we seek to win others is not limited by our inability. That is a profoundly significant word from God. God actually delights more to work in my weakness than in my strength.

God wants to use the areas where I feel limited and stifled more than the areas where I feel sufficient for the task.  God wants to use the areas where I am a failure  more than the areas where I view myself as a success to His glory. When He works, there is no doubt who is doing the working. On balance  it seems to me that we need to develop what I shall refer to as "cultivated incompetence."

The world acknowledges only skill:"When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do."

Jesus says "Without me you can do nothing"

What is "cultivated incompetence"? This is really divine viewpoint stated another way. Given the kind of power God speaks of here, we need God's viewpoint. Power to take someone who is bent upon serving self, one who is consumed with being God in their own life, and make them into a person whose heart's delight is in serving God, this is a task that none of our abilities can realize. We are not sufficient. We may think we are persuasive. You are kidding yourself if you think you can persuade others to make that change out of your own ability. Only God has this ability. I need to cultivate some incompetence. God will do this work ..God can use a mere conversation to provoke and draw someone unto repentence. If I am tempted to glory in my ability to persuade, I will fall into a trap. If I find myself striving outside of the work of the Holy Spirit, I may get results, but not God's results. That attitude inhibits God's willingness to use you to work his will. God is pleased to use earthen vessels that are weak. He was pleased to do this in his incarnation and it is a principle that does not change.

     I think the best illustrations for a particular text can often come from other parts of the scriptures. We see again with Gideon in Judges 7  that  in attacking the Midianites, not an arrow was fired.   As they blew the trumpets the great earthenware vessels they used to hold the light within were cast to the ground and broken  the lights shined forth, causing the enemy to flee in terror. We are vessels who do not want to be cracked, yet this reveals the power of God for all to see.

         Paul describes us in verse 7 as vessels, as clay pots. The problem  with the clay pot is that God has chosen it to house the most precious treasure in all of earth or heaven. We are real, living clay pots, committed to covering up things like fear, guilt, bitterness, hurt and pain. The pots are full of cracks. Some of us have been abused, some misused. And yet inside resides the precious treasure. this treasure is the power of God, total acceptance by God, and lasting impact thru his life. The inside of the pot is the God shaped vacuum that only God can fill. Nothing else can compare. And even mor than this, he pours more by his grace than we can ever us or let leak out. grace upon grace is inexhaustable. Tho this earthen vessel wear out, the inner man is renewed day by day. Even as the vessel becomes weaker, glory is to pour through. So even as we age, when we become frail and limited in the world's eyes, as well as our own eyes "I can't do what I used to do". God wills that we keep our vessels clean, and the fact that they may be leaky or broken only allows him to flow forth from you by the power of his Glory This is what we were created for!!!      

When cracks formed in pots in antiquity, people filled the cracks with beeswax to seal in the contents. God's glory will not be sealed in. God's treasure vulcanizes the pot and blows out the wax we stuff in the cracks. The pressures of life reveal God's power. 2 Cor 1:1-11. Businesses fail, finances dry up, some live on the edge all their life.  Cancer creeps up and destroys our health. We even fail at things we should be able to handle when we fail to get God's viewpoint on life. God has hidden his treasure in  common, mundane places and we are surprised by them continually as we live in Christ.

The fact that spirit indwells us can  constrain us to obey him  when we are weak.An  illustration of this is found in Jeremiah 20:8-9. Jeremiah was a prophet who spoke for God, and in so doing somebody was always there to knock him down. He was thrown in jail, put on a diet of bread and water... So he determined to solve his dilemma by not saying another word. But there was a problem. There was a fire that God had placed inside of Jeremiah  that was worse than the persecution on the outside. He had to speak the truth of God that had been given him. He was a faithful witness in spite of affliction.   God does not need for us to be faithful to fulfill his purposes in this world, nor will his purposes be fulfilled sooner or later than he resolves. It is by grace that we are given a new nature that can figure into God's redemptive work on this earth. God's resources are infinite and our finiteness does not hinder him in any way.
III             Having said what God's strategy is, (to bring power out of weakness.)  and why God does this, (because God wants the glory,)   Paul then proceeds to give us four  examples of how this works.

               He says (v.8) a. we are afflicted, not crushed...b. perplexed, not dispairing...c. persecuted, not forsaken...d. struck down, not destroyed.

          What is he talking about? Paul never saw a serial movie. In these you would have an incident in the life of the hero and they bring you right up to where he is ready to go over the waterfall and then "continued next week" would come up on the screen. It looked like an impossible situation of escape and yet you would come back next week and through some unbelievable thing the hero would be able to escape.

This is something of what Paul is saying here. Just as it looks like we will succumb, just as it looks like there is no hope, we are delivered or sustained. God's mode of operation will bring him glory when he saves the day. Paul speaks inb a dramatic way because we have a dramatic God!
         We are afflicted, not crushed...We are forced in a corner like a boxer. We are buffetted and afflicted but not crushed because of the power of His glory. But the power does not show up until the pressure comes. You have probably heard of adrenalin and instances of its impact upon a person. Like the man who had a car slip off a jack on him and associate was able to lift the several thousand s of pounds. Adrenalin is in your body but it is not available for use until that man was in a position of absolute helplessness and accompanying fear. At that point the adrenalin was poured out enabling him to do what he otherwise would never have been able to do. So it is with God's servants. At the point of greatest need, the power and grace of God is poured out to enable us to do things beyond human imagination. God's power is the adrenalin that pours forth into the helpless and hopeless so that his work can be accomplished in his way. What a tragedy to never have been afflicted. Suffering is vital to the outpouring  of God in our life.      

  We are perplexed but not dispairing...The word perplexed speaks to us of being at the end of a rope, with a thousand foot drop to the rocks below. We have all heard the story of the mountain climber who found himself in this position and cried out Is anybody up there?An unseen voice responded " yes I am here and I can see a ledge just out of your view. If you just let go you will land safely there."The mountain climber replied "Is there anyone else up there?" God wants us to see ourselves as utterly helpless, to let go and let his glory rush in to fill the broken areas in our lives.

         Persecuted but not forsaken . Missionaries died like flies in bringing the gospel to China. In the 1950's people decried this loss, believing that missions in China were an utter failure. Today we know that there are 100 million Christians in China. Some remote villages are even as much as 70% Christian. There are stories of antiphonal praises arising in the work fields. Later in 2 Cor.11:23-30 Paul boasts in his many persecutions for in his weakness, God has brought forth much.
         Struck down , but not destroyed.... Phillips version says "down  but not out" . We see the ultimate representation of this in that when it looked like the kingdom of God was to perish with its King, the morning came and the stone was rolled away from the vessel that was his tomb. God still rolls stones away today. His glory was manifested in the resurrection. You cannot hide this glory.
IV.    The fourth thing Paul says is  in answer to "Why does this strategy work?' v. 10-11 "That the  life of Jesus is manifested in our mortal flesh." What he is saying may sound simple on the surface, but there is a profound theology that underlies it.   God gave his life for you so that he can give his life to you, so he can live his life through you. Without Him you can do nothing. Without Him we are like  corpses in need of life.

          Let us capsule what Paul is saying: The most profound example of the principle that success is a function of failure is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said "The figure of the crucified invalidates all thought that takes success for its standard..."    The cross was the ultimate failure. God incarnate hung on a cross to die, subjected to the ultimate limitation, death. Yet that point of greatest limitatioin was also the point of greatest power, for in that limitation, in that failure, came the greatest victory. By his death we are given life.  

Through God's conformation of us in sanctificastion this physical truth is acted out in spiritual terms as well. By his stripe we are healed. We are the righteousness of God in reality from God's point of view. The flesh blinds us to this so we must believe God's own witness unto this, the cross, not our feelings of the flesh.
         The mechanics of it is this: to the degree that we are identified with Christ in failure, affliction or persecution, or even death we derive the power and the life that is that of the risen Christ who indwells us. I am of course speaking in pretty broad strokes of something that has a tremendous amount of depth to it. That is what he is saying in v. 11. The life of Christ flows through us to the degree that our flesh is broken. The point of this last principle is that even the ultimate limitation- death- the very picture of weakness itself, even that is the occasion of God's outpouring of power. In conquering death, God has created in the believer a place where he can dwell, where the nature of God which rules the univers shall at last be in one accord with his creation. Acts 17:28 In him we live and move and have our being... Romans 6:4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism in death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the father, even so we also should walk in newness of life...
         The physical reality of the death and resurrection of Christ along  with the infinite spiritual reality  behind it deals with our flesh's nature to want to cover up, and frees us from all fear. It delivers us from all guilt. We are secure and significant. The cross touches all the weak places, the pain, the bitterness, the pride and resentment. These are crucified on the cross, and the glory of the new life in Christ flows in to fill the burned out areas. So may the life of Christ be manifested in our weakness. Verse 12 goes on to say that death works in us to work Christ's life in others.   At the basis of why God's stategy works is that it is He himself who  is at work to will and to do his will in all of life.  He  is the one that is sovereign in all of the realms of the universe.

Our perspective is truly topsy turvy. In so many ways we are looking for competent people. We say to ourselves, we would really like to win this or that person to the Lord, Look at the influence they would have for the kingdom... Look at who they are, boy the Lord could really use that.

We even glamourize people with ostentatious testimonies that tickle our ears with "look how far the Lord brought me... look how evil I was", rather that seeking a lifestyle of quiet holiness as our model, a life that  does not stand out in the world's terms. We are too much defined by the world in this case. The Lord can use the one who realises he has nothing for the Lord to use. Nothing less than nothing will do. Divine power is poured out to the degree that we realize that we have nothing to contribute or provoke it. Even death results in victory.
         In the study of Ecclesiastes we see Solomon's perceptions as to the upside down thinking that reigns in man. We have seen in the study of Romans some of the working out of the theology of one whose mind was turned  completely around  and set right by a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  After his conversion this man who was on the fast track to success took little stock in his early educational, and spiritual accomplishments. His perspective drastically changed...

         I do not know the situations you are facing where you would say "I am incapable" or "How can God possibly use me in this?" Take courage. Establish an attitude of Holy Boldness and march out knowing that it really does not  matter how competent you are. God desires to use your sense of inadequacy. He looks to make successes out of failure, The last shall be first and the first last.
          I would like to place a caveat in here, and develop one of the earlier points that the presence of ability is not the determining factor in doing God's will.  This is not to say that we must despise competence or skill. By all means let us develop, increase in wisdom and stature. But let us never forget that it is not our competence that wins the day.    What this says is that we can have a holy boldness. Know who it is that you are being strong and courageous in. In a day  that specialises in strength and weakness surveys that a little holy boldness is in order. We begin to think in the church that it is strength  that is the basis of effectiveness in ministry .  We shy away from places where God is prompting us to act because we think we are not gifted in that area. It is God who provides gifts in his time. March forward with a boldness that says "Lord, if anything happens, it will be because you choose to work, not because of anything in me." God uses precisely this attitude. He is delighted to do so. Be obedient in areas of profound weakness and be amazed at what God will do.  We will be a people who acknowledge God's sovereignty and yield to his provision of power. It is for His name's sake that he operates in the world this way.

We want to think of ourselves as glorious vases, but we are half baked dirt. We are in ourselves the dust molded by the hand of God into a vessel. God has determined that we should be his treasure chests. Even with our flaws and cracks we are to be the expression of the treasure of the power  of his Glory.

We must wrestle through our  false sense of sufficiency. Those who realize that success is a function of failure are a people of desperate prayer. They are constantly aware of their insufficiency and God's sufficiency.
God has provided for us to be powerful - the most powerful people on earth. Yet is is not the wisdom of the wise that he uses to accomplish this. God's power is a kind of power the flesh does not seek. Since we are alive in Christ, we are free to allow this power to operate through us. This is the power to meet people's needs, to hang on a cross in love.
The Bible proposes a radical view to life and the universe. There is another more crucially complete reality in every sense of the word, and that reality is the source of every thing we perceive as reality. Not only that but it follows that truth is based on this ultimate reality not the one we perceive. This builds a relationship that precludes that if we are to live in accord with that reality we must live, as scripture puts it, in the light of the unseen. This is faith . There is a way that seemeth right unto a man... then there is the way of wisdom. ther is darkness and there is light. There is time and there is eternity.  The point at which the creator graces us with his reality are seen subjectively and by implication in the fact of the creation. This is why there is something rather than nothing.
         The reality of the other is seen most fully in the overthrow of one major piece of logic, which is embodied in the maxim finitum non capax infinitum...The finite will never touch or invade this infinite realm, but God has been pleased to invade our world in a manner that we can now perceive through our spirits. This is impossible with man, but possible with God. This was realized in the incarnation and is  seen today in the indwelling of the  Holy Spirit of Christ in our lives. God has in effect, pitched his tent within those whom he has chosen

         Therefore there is a sense in that everything we know as creatures is wrong. We realize the need to find our purpose, to know our origins and the basis of morality in this life. Yet there are no suitable explanations to be found without reaching outside of our sphere for an absolute. This is impossible for man, but for God all things are possible.

He has reached into his creation and stamped his presence upon it. He has not remained silent, but has through his spirit moved men, personalities to express the mind of God for all the world to hear. It is through inspired revelation that this is accomplished. This is therefor the truest truth available to us in this present world and is only limited by our inability to comprehend the infinity of its truth. It is truer than we will ever know.
         The Bible says that when God created man, he created him with the ability to commune with God in a fuller sense, person to person. In the fall man lost this ability because he chose to reject the truth of what God proposed, and in effect revolted against this blessedness. In creating finite creatures, this triune God planned for their ultimate redemption even before his creation of them by providing that The Son would be the one who would be the instrument of that redemption. In order that his creation not lose sight of  the fact that thier creator demands, by his nature to be loved and for us to love also that which he has created he also revealed these truths in his word to man. This precludes that we should ever become "other worldly to the exclusion of this world.
         It behooves us, therefore to walk in faith in the things which are not seen on the basis of what has been revealed. God reveals himself to be faithful, so we should trust him. He reveals himself to be love, so we should love him with all that we are., and love his creation as well. We should hate that which works in a way that is contrary to these propositions.

June 1, 2003 Mel's Passion

This one is likely to be as controversial as Last Temptation only among Jews instead of Christians. See Scripting the Scriptures. Probably at least some of the controversy will be raised by Mel's Dad's AntiSemitic views.

Trading places

Asian-Americans, whites switching religions. Asian-Americans are rapidly becoming the face of Christianity on many college campuses across the country, joining evangelical clubs in large numbers and, in some cases, starting their own Christian organizations. See this excellent article from the Houston Chronicle.

Biblical Literacy is at an all time low? It took a Barna study to determine this? Doh. Check this out too.

June 1, 2003 Christian e-zines

Worth watching from jordoncooper.com

President Bush Urged to Help Free Sudanese Slaves Now
Christian Solidarity International

Today, (May 30, 2003) Christian Solidarity International’s (CSI) U.S. Executive
Director, Dr. John Eibner, urged President George W. Bush to help make
2003 “the year of the eradication of Sudanese Slavery”. Writing
following his return from a fact-finding visit to Sudan, Eibner reported
“the current ceasefire … offers a window of opportunity for a mass
exodus of slaves from northern Sudan to their homes in the South”. While
in Sudan, Eibner and his CSI colleagues found that many Arab slave
masters are now prepared to release Black African slaves, without
compensation fees and that land corridors for the return of slaves to
Southern Sudan are now open and secure. During Sudan’s 20-year-old civil
car, over 200,000 women and children have been enslaved, according to
leaders of the victimized communities. The U.S State Department has
indicated that it expects a peace agreement before the end of June.
Eibner encouraged President Bush to use the current window of
opportunity to support Sudanese civil society’s efforts to free the
slaves now. “There will be no true peace in Sudan as long as black
African women and children and children are enslaved”, Eibner concluded.

June 1, 2003 My Turn to be Morpheus

I shall no longer...dream.

From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/