Sick and Tired

www.bible.com/1713/psa.51.10.csb

Ooh it’s Friday! Wow. Color me uninterested. Whereas I was supposed to be on the road and traveling to a conference this morning, I am very much grounded as our venue canceled classes last week and closed up for the semester. So that means no eating out, no seeing some new places, no hanging out with people smarter than me. Well, that’s just fine.

If you are suffering from the effects of social isolation and distancing, then you know what I’m talking about. Nevertheless, I still have a job, in healthcare, which is committed to staying open and running throughout this crisis. Well, that’s just fine. It gives me a reason to get out of the house everyday.

That being said, we have a lot of sick and tired going on, generally this week has been weird. We can’t go do anything but go to the grocery store. Restaurants are closed. Movie theater is closed. Schools and churches have buttoned up. It’s just home and work. And I’m lucky to have both. But imagine a lot of folks are climbing the walls about now.

Something that we could ask for this morning is a clean, renewed heart. The ones we have need tending. I look forward to adventures and travel simply because they refresh me, and make me appreciate my own home that much more when I am away from it. But I also know that this world is not my home. I have a much better place and a much better homecoming waiting for me, and it makes this home a little less familiar.

My prayer this morning, especially as we are forced to shelter in place and so on, is to cultivate our spirit, remind ourselves that while we are warm and dry, we still need to prepare our spirit. We need to work on that holy book we keep around the house, need to be familiar with it. We have this opportunity to explore it, study it, begin to pieces together that have baffled us. There will always be an endless supply of distraction, but only one book will renew you’re spirit. Only one book will make you look at your world differently every time you put the book down. Only one book can change the way you think about this world and open your eyes to the larger world God has made. Take time this morning and today to open God’s book. Read it. Study it. Maybe comment below if you have come across insights. I invite you into God’s book. May it renew your spirit so that you are not sick and tired.

God bless our reading today, as You the Divine Author invites us to Your Word and Your Thoughts. We can do but to think Your Thoughts after You, but we await what You have to show us today.

The Division of the Soul

www.bible.com/1713/heb.4.12.csb

Who knew that the soul could be divided? The Hebrews’ author gets very existential in this text, perhaps saying more than he knew. We know that joints and marrow are distinctive tissues. We can actually see this in anatomy. Marrow exists within the bone, while joints connect bone to bone. They connected by extremely tough tissue called tendons. So the ability to separate these tissues must be with equipment that’s extremely sharp. So we might surmise that the connection between soul and spirit must be equally difficult to separate. This stands to reason, as we often see the two as synonyms, rather than distinctive elements. Is there support for this?

We are all born with souls. It is the very stuff of who we are. Without souls we are considered dead. It is the soul that gives life. In Greek it is the word used is psuche, which we often transliterate as psyche.

The spirit is a word we employ to describe the ethereal and intangible essence of bodiless entities. We employ this to describe ghosts, the Holy Spirit, and even high-alcohol content beverages. (I might put forward here that I believe the association between consuming “spirits” as alcoholic beverages gives the same warm feeling in the body as the presence of the Holy Spirit, hence, do not become drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit.) the Greek term for spirit is pneuma. It is the same word used for “wind”.

With some basic information, we might see that the two words do describe two different things. A psyche is something we never see, but see the effects of, like behavior, presence of life and so forth. A pneuma is something we might have a concept of apart from the body, like a mist or vapor. But we always see the spirit as the more powerful of the two, since psyche is always associated with a human being while the spirit is not. That the two have such a strong connection in this verse might be new information for us. But let me show you why this connection exists.

When we are baptized into Christ, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that presence of God introduced into our lives is intended to grow us spiritually into disciples. It is supposed to be a strong connection, as we work to discipline our lives, thoughts and intentions to be more Christ-like. But here comes the intent if this verse.

The Word of God (the Scripture given by the Holy Spirit) is living and active. Important to remember this. Since the word given by the Spirit separates soul from spirit, what is the nature of this separation? Simply? It is the separation of the will of the soul from the will of the spirit. The word of God makes that separation very stark. When we read the word of God, we find what He wants, and how that is often different from what we want. The word of God isn’t old and dead, like many religions of long ago. It is living and active, even to reach into your soul right now and make it plain to you what God wants. God isn’t an old god from an old faith. He is present. He is near, and He is speaking into you through His word. It is a powerful thing to be considered worthy of hearing the will and word of our Creator.

Help me Lord to listen to you today. I know that my will js not Your will, but help me each day to make it more so. I love you Lord, more than anything. Let my soul cleave into Thy Spirit that we may not be separated again. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Needs

www.bible.com/1713/mat.4.4.csb

What would you consider a “need”? I am often surprised what others consider their needs. In Eastern Kentucky, I often see people forego their need for shelter, family, even good to afford their drug habit. People will give up everything to satisfy that need. Even the dignity of their own body.

You however might have more simple needs, like a warm bed, a stable marriage, kids that are kind, food on the table, a roof over your head, clothes to wear and so on. But have you ever considered the Word of God as a need?

What this implies is that we all need food to survive, no one will thrive without the Word of God. Honestly if it were not for this blog, there would be whole days I may forget to look up a verse of Scripture. So this blog is as much a daily discipline for me as anything. It forces me to get into the Word, if only for a little bit.

How does the word impact your life? Are there days you go without picking a Bible or reading from an app? If we don’t intentionally put it on front of our eyes every day, the temptation is very easy to forget. And what happens when you forget to make God’s Word a priority? Our human minds begin to slip, slowly at first. We skip out of the habit and we lose that daily reminder of hope. Depression enters the picture because without Jesus, this world is a sorry place.

Little by little if we avoid God’s word, we lose a little hope and acquire a little despair. We need the word of God to remind us of our journey, our purpose, and our destination. Without them we wander in darkness, and that’s no way to live.

Please consider in the coming year of making daily Bible reading a priority. You will feel much better for it. God bless you in your daily walk.

Power in Harmony

https://www.bible.com/72/rom.15.5.hcsb

Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.
(Rom 15:5-6)

Last Saturday, my daughter was taking part in a band combined with all the regional bands from their middle schools. I didn’t expect what I heard. Over the course of one day, my daughter has managed to learn how to play three new songs, songs she didn’t even know to start, and then learn how to play them with complete strangers. By the time of the concert, they had managed to learn how to play together and bring off a most impressive concert, despite their youth and inexperience. I credit this in part to the instructors who worked with them, but also the power of harmony, when everyone is working together to a common goal. In this case, everyone was working on the same music, if not the same page.

I think we Christians could take a page out of this book. We are all trying to save the world according to our own silos. Each of us think we have the right way and correct understanding of how the Bible works and how Jesus saves. The fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of churches (and yes, each have their own thing), would seem to give lie to that fact. Either only one of us is completely right, some of us are partially right or we’re all completely wrong.

Truthfully, I think we have much more in common than we think, and we probably ought to cooperate more than we do. If we all claim to be Christians, then surely there must be some real Christians among us. I believe each one must be firmly convinced in his own mind what he believes. But I also believe we tend to nitpick over non-essentials, like whether or not we use musical instruments in worship.

I believe the essentials are these: Jesus Christ is the Living Son of God, born of a virgin, crucified on a cross, risen from the dead and alive in Heaven at God’s right hand, but just as near to us. If this isn’t at the core of your faith, you are not a Christian. The resurrection alone as Paul said is the most important fact of our faith, and must be upheld.

The second is like the first: The Bible as written in its original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) is the final authority of God on this earth. It was written by the Holy Spirit through the hands of about 40 men (and maybe women) to its minimum extent of 66 books, the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New. All of the Church recognizes these books. It is true in all that it attests to and affirms. It is our final authority of faith, and cannot be interpreted to the opposite of what it clearly says. It was written to be understood, and written so that even common men (and women) could understand it. Anyone who denies the written Word of God or its authority is not a Christian because they deny the surest source of authority they have.

Beyond these two, we can talk about others, but I believe you need these two to start having a conversation. God bless you today!

 

God of Mysteries

www.bible.com/1713/jer.33.3.csb

The deep things of God remain are great mysteries. Even those who’ve spent their lives searching them out can only grasp the most basic concepts. There are depths of God that cannot be fathomed by mortal minds.

Even to begin such an undertaking requires the Holy Spirit, a gift Christians receive upon their baptism. For the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God (1 Cor 3). The Holy Spirit does better than Google when it comes to the deeps of the Almighty.

So why the invitation? If our minds can’t handle it and the Spirit is our only guide, why does God invite us to know Him?

Are you ever interested in how your dad met your mom? Or what your mom was like growing up? Have you ever talked with your parents about their dreams and desires, or things that they’ve learned? It is one of my privileges to talk to the old and hear these kinds of stories. The human experience is one of the more fascinating elements of history. What life was like. How did people of previous generations solve the same problems without electricity and google?

In the same way, I think we would like to know more about where we came from, and of the mind that brought us into being. What is life like for an eternal Being with an infinite imagination and creativity? What are the principles that govern His Being? What does He like? What are His dreams and desires? Thankfully He didn’t leave Himself without record, for all these answers can be found in His book. That’s right, for all those people who say of their life, “I could write a book!”, He did.

But He didn’t just write a book. That would be too simple. He employed a host of writers who in turn using their own life experiences wrote about God from their own unique perspectives. Yet the same God shines through every page, just to show you that He isn’t an iconoclast or a demagogue, but that expression of God can take on many different means. God expresses Himself directly at times, through voice and prophet, but also through signs and symbols, through Psalm and prose, through gospel letters, even in apocalypse. The same God, but revealed in a myriad of means to appeal to the widest possible audience, human beings. And all are invited to discover His secrets. Woah.

Take some time today and read. You might learn something.

Finally

www.bible.com/1713/php.4.8.csb

Forrest Gump’s pet line for finishing his thoughts was “that’s all I’ve got to say about that.” When the Apostle Paul was teaching the close of his letter, he was thinking along similar lines.

This verse functions as a catch-all for whatever else he could not stuff into his brief thoughts here. Essentially, “I don’t have room to give you an exhaustive list of ‘thou shalt not’s’, so here is a succinct list of of qualities that any unnamed future activities should qualify for.” Perhaps spoke of more than he could possibly know.

When you consider that the world today has been transformed by technology and science, and that 90% of the earth’s surface can be reached in less than a week, and sometimes a few days, these guidelines are something that a 2000-yr old book would have trouble predicting. Despite this gap in time, the Bible speaks just as true and as fresh S the day it was written. Any reasonable person can view this list and know what these words mean and what they intend. Anything that lacks moral excellence, or is not praiseworthy is to be avoided. Can you think of anything that might fit this distinction? If you can, then you know enough. It doesn’t take much intellectual effort here. What follows is the will to put aside the morally questionable and embrace the pure and the holy.

You might have to tape this verse to your mirror or your fridge or even your desk. Wherever you are making important decisions, or even minor ones, this verse is a helpful guide for when the Bible doesn’t specifically say so. If you’re still not sure, ask a trusted Christian friend. But don’t let this verse be far from your thoughts in the gray areas.

God bless you on this Monday!

Good News and Bad News

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.3.36.csb

My daughter asked me last night if I wanted the good news first or the bad news first. I wasn’t sure so I said, ”chronological order.” She looked at me uncertainly, and then told me news about the bread she had baked. Huh? Well, sometimes it’s not terrible.

Sometimes the difference is life and death, even eternal life and death. So it is with our text today. It is said that Jesus Christ will stand over all in judgment on the last day at the great white throne. But it should be obvious that the judgment has already been made by the time we get there. And Jesus isn’t the One who judges. What? Jesus is the cause for judgment, but each and every person makes his own judgment whether he believes Jesus is the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, and the essential Savior we need for our sins. So much rests upon individual faith that our eternal destiny depends on it. Each of us knows by the time we get to this glorious throne what the judgment will be.

I know there are those that will reject this truth outright, refusing to believe there is any kind of God, or that He would have a Son in a human being. It all seems crazy. Our five senses just aren’t ready for supernatural stuff. But we have other senses. Pardon me for getting a little weird, but, we also have a sense of right and wrong. We have a sense of beauty and perfection. We have love and joy and peace. We know when things are peaceful and when they are tense. We are aware of more than our five senses tell us. There is more than our five senses can sense. We know this inherently. That’s why we also have a sense of awe and wonder, of things too wonderful for us to understand. We have a sense for God.

So when we read stuff like this verse, we are compelled to respond. We can not remain neutral, because there is not middle ground here. Either we joyfully accept it, or we reject it. We know it means something, because our spirit responds to it. Scripture is like that. Few find a neutral position with Scripture. If God chose to speak to us, He must have something important to say.

How will you respond today?