Planning

greekI asked around if people read blogs. The answer is unclear. Why did I ask? Well in January each year I ask, should I keep this going? If yes, should I tweak it?

I think yes and yes. Yes, continue the blog. If nothing else it’s an outlet and a place to try out ideas.

Yes to tweaking. I think I can read more things under the rubric of Fresh Read. The scriptures as always. But the people also need to be read. So does the physical world around us. So there may be more stuff on how to read the book in light of the culture, the culture in light of the book, the First Book in light of the Second Book…you get the idea.

So see you soon!

Advertisements

Resonance – Genesis 22 and Advent

Abraham-e-Isaac-sacrifican (1)In our Christmas Eve service, we read Genesis 22

Why should we read this story at Christmas?  Genesis 22 is maybe the most provoking passage in the Bible.  We wonder why God would challenge Abraham with this.

My answer is that it resonates with the Christmas story.  If you play a note on a piano that same string on a violin or a guitar, if they are tuned the same, will resonate.  The likeness will cause a vibration.  Consider a few facts:

Isaac was a long promised child.  We know that the Messiah was promised from the time of the Garden of Eden, later in the promise of a greater Moses, and then through he prophets in a variety of ways.

Isaac was a miracle child.  Sarah had Isaac at 90 years of age. It was so unlikely that she laughed with the Angel told Abraham that she would have a child.  It was so fantastic that his name “Isaac” means laughter.  Jesus was born as a miracle – no human father and yet Mary gave birth.

Isaac was a beloved child.  God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac and go to the region of Moriah…”  When we speak of Jesus as the Son of God, we capitalize it since he is the only one.  God took his son, his only son, whom he loves – Jesus, and sent him into our world.

Isaac was obedient to his father – as was Jesus who submitted to the will of the Father when he became a sacrifice for sin.

There was a substitute – Isaac was spared and a ram found nearby was his substitute.  Jesus was not spared, but he became our substitute.

The sacrifice was on a hill.  In fact there is good reason to believe that this hill was in the same area and perhaps the same hill where Mt Zion sits.

Are all these just by coincidence?  No.  Did we pull them out of the text when they are not really there? No, they are there.

Genesis 22 points us to John 3:16.  For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

            God the father did what Abraham did not have to do.  If we want to imagine the gift of God, consider how hard it must have been for Abraham – and multiply it many times.   Abraham had waited a matter of years to have a son, but God and the Eternal Son had forever.

Jesus the Son came willingly.  Isaac was willing to obey his father, but he did not know what his Father was planning to do.  Jesus knew his destiny before his birth.  He fully and willingly obeyed the Father.

What string does this cause to resonate in you?  We all desire to know Love. Can you begin to feel the love of God?  Can you feel in your heart the incredible depth of his love?  With long planning and total sacrifice, he sent his son to the world to rescue all who will believe.

a 5 star vacation

big8This is the sort of resort

That provides a view

And an escape

Where your needs

are met by the staff

A star for the location

A star for peace

A star for the food

A star for the staff

A star because it does it all

You are safe from the residents

And crime

And unsightly poverty

That could ruin your time.

How this resort elevates this place!

here is the church

This is the sort of church

That gives you a view

And an escape

Where you needs

Are met by the staff

A star for the campus

A star for the speaker

A star for the music

A star for the programs

A star to make a difference.

You are safe from the world

And its strife

And those who have fallen

Into poverty, addiction and despair.

How this church elevates this place?

 

Psalm 113 and the “-ologies”

hallelujah

 

This Psalm is a reflection on the name of God (Yahweh) which is rendered LORD in most modern translations.

 

First I notice the variations on the phrase “Praise the Lord” which are all variations on the word Hallelujah (“praise Yahweh”).

  • Praise the Lord (hallelu jah)
  • Praise  (him) the servants of the LORD (hallelu abedey yahweh)
  • Praise the name of the LORD (hallelu eth shem yahweh)
  • Let the name of the LORD be blessed (yahi shem yahweh mebarak)
  • Praise to the name of the LORD (mehulal shem yahweh)

This reminds me of musical compositions that take a theme and vary it through the piece, both in classical music and jazz.  It seems a kind of memditation by repetitive variation.

Then I notice contrasts in categories of time, space, people.  So I made this outline.

ps113

These show the LORDS praiseworthiness in regards to

  • time (now and forever)
  • location (place of sun rising and setting)
  • the nations
  • the heavens (which the Lord has to stoop down to even see)
  • classes of people (Poor, princes, childless woman, mother)

It’s a bit ironic that in the tradition of the text, we change the actual NAME of the LORD to the word “LORD” so as not to break the commandment against taking the LORD’s name in vain.

 

Power or Persuasion

It was in 1976 when Jimmy Carter was running for president that it was declared to be the Year of the Evangelical.  It was supposed to be a return from the fundamentalist wilderness, brought on by Scopes and the Modernist/Fundamentalist controversy.

Just three years prior, Roe v Wade was decided.  Abortion became legal (the part about trimesters fell to the side).  By 1980 there was a marriage between “Evangelical” and “Republican” that lasts to this day.

Carter was ambiguous on the issue.  Reagan ran with it.  Though in office he did little until the last months of his second term.  He was really about the economy and the national defense.

It takes 2/3 of the congress of the US and 3/4 of the states to pass an amendment to the constitution.    I was in college in the time of that marriage, and it seemed to me then that it would take a long stretch to get any amendment through congress, and certainly one on Abortion.  After all, some states had already legalized Abortion before Roe.

The term “Evangelical” is hardly usable any longer.

To Charismatics it means those bookish Christians with whom they agree about Jesus.

To Liberals  it means those tho are married to the wrong party.  They chose to marry the Democratic party instead.

To Fundamentalists it means wishy-washy on some of the fighting issues.

To those who used the term back in the day, it meant committed to the Gospel, to the Bible and to an educated presentation of “conservative” or “Biblical” theology.

Now in popular media it means, those people who vote for Republicans almost all the time.  Watch how the term is used in an election year.  Now every year is an election year.  Mid term elections start the day after the Inauguration.  Presidential elections start the day after the mid term elections.

Lots of us (I still use the term “evangelical” to describe my theological position) fell in for using the power of the ballot box to fix the country.  Butevangelicals

the marriage to a party or a candidate makes us an apologist for the same.  Reagan was theologically uninterested.  George W Bush waved his faith to gain votes, but could not speak well for what he was for biblically.  (I give him credit for trying to deal with Immigration, cutting across the grain of the crowd.)  Donald Trump is hard to define politically and religiously. I heard my family members say, “we are electing a president not a Sunday School Teacher.”  However, they were not so forgiving of Bill Clinton.

I think we missed the boat.  Power is held in place by persuasion.  We opted for power, and did little to persuade people about the value of life, and the cause for what marriage should be.

Abortions have gone down since the heyday.  I think that the current technology of ultrasounds destroyed the argument that a fetus was only a “blob of flesh.”  The court appointees of Republican presidents have made no difference on this issue.  Persuasion from technology has.

Dear Fellow Evangelicals, lets go back to the ministry of the word, persuasion, engaging people respectfully without name calling and listening to criticisms of our position. Are we single issue? Can we separate being pro-life for the pre-born from pro-life about health care, poverty, racism, the environment, refugees and other issues?  How does being an American fit with being a Christian?

Whomever we support politically, we cannot promise fidelity. Our fidelity has to be the the Lord and his Word.  If we have common cause, so be it. If not, we can not put up with immoral or indecent words and actions because things we like get done.

Done.

Calm in the Canoe – a parable

canoeFrom the shore we can see the man in the canoe.  He is not paying attention to the danger he is in, because his eyes are closed.  What he does not see, we can see clearly.  Just down river is a quick succession of rapids through large boulders and then a 30 foot waterfall.  We call out, but he is not connected to the world.

I am in my canoe.  It is taking me on a journey.  I do not strive or turn, but am satisfied to follow the path of water and current.   I have closed my eyes and taken the position.  I have been breathing slowly, allowing myself to be completely in this time and place.  The flow of the river, the lapping of the waves, the gentle breeze on my face all are sensed, not as separate sounds, but part of one sound.

We start to shout, but he is not listening.

I heard chattering monkeys just then, but now they have receded.

We call out: Danger is ahead!  Turn to Shore!  Your life is in danger.

Quietly I flow, the water flows, the canoe flows, all time flows, we flow as one.
He must have fallen asleep.  We try tossing a stone against the boat, but it is hard to reach.  The first and second try miss, but on the third we hear the “clunk” of success. He stirs, but then returns to his sleep.

Nature and I are one. The river and I are one.  Time and I are one.  Words have no meaning.  All is at peace.

Just now we see the boat enter the rapids…he awakes at the third stone he hits, but not in time.  He starts to paddle, but will he get to shore in time?

What is that, the flow is interrupted. I open my eyes and the peaceful waters are shouting. The mirror water is mist.  There is a roaring just ahead.  Rapids!  Waterfall!

I grasp my paddle and pull deeply in the water, but the roaring grows louder.

Just as he goes over the edge, he reaches upward and cries out. Then he is gone.

It’s too late.  I’ve come to the edge.  Someone help me!

 

David Carlson

9/26/17

Marks of the Beast – Part 1

666           In Revelation we have hit the jackpot.   In chapter 12, we meet the great Dragon – who is Satan. Then in chapter 13 we discover two Beasts; the first is identified with the Anti-Christ and the second with his High Priest.  To top it off, we have a secret code, the number 666.  Oh what fun we can have with this!

Let me start with a quote.  This is written by a man whose last name is Boring.  He is Eugene Boring.  Yes, that makes this a boring book, by a boring author.  I will leave the rest of the jokes to you.   I do not agree with everything that he says, but this is true.

“…this text about the ‘mark of the beast’ has through the centuries been a happy hunting ground for religious quacks and sensationalizers…[so] it is important to give some clear guidance for preaching and teaching.”  (M. Eugene Boring, Revelation, WJK, 1989, p. 161)

I have heard lots of speculation: the anti-Christ was Michael Gorbachev., because of his birthmark that looked like a wound to his head.  I’ve heard many theories like that. The number 666 could be a tattoo.  Maybe it is three rows of 6 numbers. Maybe it is a microchip inserted beneath the skin.  We actually do have that technology.  People tried to change the name of State Highway 666 in New Mexico, but I think it is good for tourism.  In the Reformation era, Lutherans said the Anti-Christ was the Pope.  The Pope returned to say it was Luther.  So there are many ideas, and little information.

I believe the best way to understand Biblical teaching is that there will be one anti-Christ with a Capitol A.   That term does not come from Revelation, but from I John 2:18

 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

There will be one Anti-Christ with a capital A in the last hour.  However, even in the early church, there were many little a anti-Christs.

Big A will have  all the worst characteristics of the worlds despots and dictators – wrap up Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Kim Il Jung into one  and you get the idea.

But in the meantime, the spirit of anti-Christ is in the world. There have and there will appear again those with the marks of anti-Christ.

Today I do pretend to solve the mystery of the number 666  I want to talk of the things that define all of the anti Christs, the ones with the small a and the one with the big A.  These are the Marks of the beast – marks are plural on purpose.

(Note: there is a prediction that the world will end with a wandering planet tomorrow, September 23. This is based on Revelation 12 and some star charts.  So you better read quick!)