Tag Archives: God

The Need to be Known…

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Why do you think people are obsessed with fame? What does that say about our culture?
Tony Hale (Buster Bluth): I do think that, honestly it is grounded in the fact that everybody desperately wants to be known, and they think that fame is kind of the ultimate of being known. ‘If that many people know me, if that many people know who I am, then its going to satisfy that.’ The thing is, if you get to that place you are only going to find true satisfaction if you are known in an eternal, spiritual sense by somebody greater than yourself.”

Author Donald Miller interviews Tony Hale, known as Buster Bluth in the fabulous TV show “Arrested Development.  I love that guy, and one of my favorite shows.

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Jack London’s Explanation For the Need of Christ Incarnate

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“God is out there” said a wise man once.  Out where?  And why out there?  Can’t he be here?  To a lot of people that’s how they think of God.  If you were to ask them directly, they might say, “He is out there somewhere.  I can’t tell you where, I just know he exists and he’s out there.”  Perhaps in explanation of the evil in the world one might say, “He has abandoned us.  He’s out there, but he’s not here anymore.  If he was here, there wouldn’t be this much evil.”

 

I came across someone who I think struggled with the same questions.  Where is God?  In Jack London’s fascinatingly experienced childhood, he most likely starting asking his first God questions, if not then later, when he wrote “White Fang”, about which is the subject of this writing.  His childhood brought him into oyster piracy, a purchase of his first sailboat, work as a sailor, homelessness, and gang membership in California, not to mention a self-taught education, which in the later years were supported and funded by a local pub.  A rare childhood to say the least, and one can only imagine the kinds of experiences and conversations with people he met.

 

Jack London never grew to know Christ as his savior that we know of.  From the way he wrote, he seemed to think poorly of those who believed in God, maybe even futile.  One thing surprised me though about this passage of literature.  It shows an unbelieving mans heart-cry for Christ.  Before I say anymore, I’ll give the passage.  The context is, according to these dogs, humans are as gods to them.  Now he’ll compare and contrast the difference between humans’ gods, and the dog’s gods.

 

To man has been given the grief, often, of seeing his gods overthrown and his altars crumbling; but to the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to crouch at man’s feet, this grief has never come. Unlike man, whose gods are of the unseen and the overguessed, vapours and mists of fancy eluding the garmenture of reality, wandering wraiths of desired goodness and power, intangible out-croppings of self into the realm of spirit – unlike man, the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to the fire find their gods in the living flesh, solid to the touch, occupying earth-space and requiring time for the accomplishment of their ends and their existence. No effort of faith is necessary to believe in such a god; no effort of will can possibly induce disbelief in such a god. There is no getting away from it. There it stands, on its two hind-legs, club in hand, immensely potential, passionate and wrathful and loving, god and mystery and power all wrapped up and around by flesh that bleeds when it is torn and that is good to eat like any flesh.

– Part III, Ch. 2, “The Bondage”, White Fang.

 

Without knowing it, Jack London has painted for us, the purpose Christ came.  Before Christ came, God was this personally unknown, unmet, untouchable deity, that existed, and revealed His will by way of prophets.  But to show just how much He really loved us, God came down, clothed himself in the flesh of man, humbling himself from divine stature, to meet with us.  Flesh to flesh.  Face to face.  Communicate with us in person.  What Jack London might have been really asking was, “Give me a god I can touch, who I can talk with, who I can reason with.  I don’t want ‘vapors and mists’, I want a real-life relatable being.”

 

I hope someone had the chance to share with him, that Christ, God, came to earth once upon a time, to come out of the vapor and mist so to speak, to say, “I am God, in the flesh.  I’ve come to tell you, I love you, and that through me, you can have life to the fullest, even eternal life.” (not to say originally, he was merely vapor and mist)

 

Love is often understood by explanation, but Love is felt by demonstration.  So Christ came to demonstrate His love for us, by being one of us, so he could show how much He loved us by dying on the cross.

“That is it! That’s Jesus!”

Have you talked with someone and had to imagine their face?  Have you ever been in a long distance relationship and never actually met them in person?  Have you ever had a pen-pal and with great excitement you wait til you get a picture of them?

We were made to do two things (well many more, like eat); 1) to behold glorious things (which is why we go to geological attractions like the Grand Canyon and the Niagra Falls), and 2) to behold the glory in each other.  We each have a shadow of the glory of Jesus in our faces.  We were made after his image, his likeness, bone of his bone.  And some awesome day, some glorious day, we will behold the face of Christ, our God in the flesh.  Don’t we all yearn for that day?

Some have already supposedly seen him.  The apostles for one, but also some in our century have also.  People who have had near death experiences often describe going into a dream like state where they enter heaven, talk with Jesus, see Gabriel the angel, etc.  Many Muslims who have come to Christ have done so by way of talking with Christ himself in their dreams (which is obviously not a near death experience, and an important distinction).

Well what I’m about to say I don’t put a ton of stock in, but find it very interesting, and truthful in a very big way.  Two young people, one a boy at age 3, and a girl who was around 7-8 years old, both almost died, and both witnessed seeing Jesus Christ.

The parents of the boy, Colton Burpo, were obsessed with finding images and portraits that Colton might find in the likeness of Christ.  But again and again, Colton would say no.  Until they come across a picture that the girl painted after she came back, of Jesus.  When Colton saw this painting, he said, “That is it!  That’s Jesus!” So we have the testimony of two very young children who have seen Jesus, and agree together as to what He looks like.  You want to see a picture of what Jesus may look like?  Here it is:

Surprise!  He’s not white, or has blue eyes!

Todd Burpo, his father, wrote a book, last year, about this whole experience, of his sons getting sick, seeing him through, and takes us on a journey through years of Colton recounting and telling the story of what he saw in his “three minutes” of heaven.

Matthew Patton of Parchment and Pen wrote a good critical review of this book.  In which he asks the question, “Are they lying?”  After all, this sort of stuff could get one very rich quick in the world of Christendom.   This is a good review of the book if you are interested.

And because I think everything that is worth believing in, is worth questioning, (I’m not saying I whole-heartedly believe this story) here is a good clip by David Platt on why we shouldn’t believe this story of “ascending to heaven and descending again to earth”, which as Platt will explain, is only attainable and was only attained by Jesus Christ.  The other “experiences” of heaven, were through visions, not by one who died and came back again.  I don’t we think we should declare this story true too quickly.  Instead, let this be a time when we search the scriptures to see what it says on this sort of matter.

Here is a short clip that explains who Jesus is;

If this has interested you, and you want to go deeper into who Jesus is, and what he said, maybe you can start here;

Learn more.

Water cleanses, but Fire refines within! The prophecy through Noah.

Listen to the Prophets

Peter in his second letter, in chapter three, delivers a word of prophecy that I never noticed before.  One, because I never considered the story of Noah to be connected to the second coming of Christ like this.  It’s an old Testament story, but it is deeply connected.  It manifests Gods heart of distraught with the sinfulness of man, and a willingness with holy zeal to start over because of his love for mankind.  This is how he begins to conclude the third chapter…

“I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandments of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.”

Our next question should be, well which predictions of holy prophets are you talking about Peter?  We find which prophets he means in the paragraphs below.   Talking about people who will mock us for believing Jesus Christ will come again, Peter says

“For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water, the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged* with water and perished.”

*other translations may say, flooded, or overcome with water.

The Flood as Prophecy to the Return of Christ

In the same chapter Peter talks about predictions of the holy prophets and mentions the very story of Noah.  Now we know God flooded the earth, because he was sorry he even made humans, because they were violent all the time.  War was everywhere, and sexual immorality was prevalent.  It says men took women as they wanted (its interesting to note, that before that point God had not given the law…he had not given order to things….this was what man did without restraints), and there was sinful chaos.  Noah was the remnant, he was holding out, and God was going to save him and his sons, and so purify the earth of its moral dirt and filth by way of water.  A fresh start was needed, because man was continually evil the word says.  So he flooded the earth, and every living thing died that was not on the ark.  God promised he would never flood the earth again, and he won’t.  But to ready the kingdom of God, a second cleansing is needed.  In God’s presence there can be no sin, and if there was, He would cease to be a just God, so He has chosen to cleanse his creation with a stronger cleansing agent, with a stronger scrub….with fire.

Water cleans the surface, but fire burns and refines deep within, not just the surface, but throughout.

Same skies, two different rains

Rain comes from the sky, everyone knows this.  But think this way….every time it rains, it is a MERCY, that it doesn’t rain fire on us, like it will some day!  Consider the scripture below, still in the third chapter,

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly.”

“…the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done in it will be exposed.”

“It’s never rained before!”

The people in Noahs day mocked Noah for building an ark.  Because they had never seen rain before.  The scripture says that water came up from the ground and the heavens, indicating that God kept an amount of water in the atmosphere and in the ground (read the creation account in Genesis).  So the people who saw Noah, had never seen the ark, and thought it foolish and silly to build a boat.

So also today, NO ONE has seen fire fall from the heavens!  And OH what a terrible sight it would be!

Noah as a prediction of what is to come

So it is my estimation that the flood is not merely a model of how things may pan out in the end, but a prediction. It is a necessity, by way of insufficiency, that Noah predicted the return of Christ.  Just as Moses gave the law, predicting Christ by way of insufficiency, so Noah predicted the end times in greater sufficiency, just as Christ fulfilled the law in a very necessary way.  The law was insufficient, and so was the flood.  The end-times will be a fulfillment of the flood, and God’s covenant with the earth.

An encouragement

But, this is not our hope!  Fire is not it!  There is joy and pleasure forever more in the presence of God, once he comes!  Be encouraged by these words Peter leaves us with.

“Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace.  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation….take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen!”

 

The all-encompassing power of Restoration!

 

Those who are married will totally know what I’m talking about.  Yesterday, was one of those days, where my wife and I were both just upset with each other.  I can’t really remember where it all came from.  All the snarling, back-biting, and jumping on each other’s backs was probably an ugly combination and result of intense hunger pains, miscommunications, and an unwillingness to back down on proving ones own point.  Its funny how the fullness of ourselves get in the way between us and our loved ones.  Needless to say, there was bad air between us as we slept.  Neither of us were letting go of the arguments and the hurt.  So we fell asleep to hopefully start over afresh tomorrow.

 

Husbands and wives, you’ll know what I mean when I say that this morning as I woke up, I had one of those “What just happened last night?” moments.  It didn’t make sense.  I was stupid.  What was I trying to prove!?  I thought to myself, I have to make this right.  I did the thing that I don’t do very often, and should do more, but I walked over, wrapped my arms around her, and said, “I’m sorry sweety about yesterday.”

 

Fast forward to this morning.  I’m texting with Emily over Gmail chat, just as any responsible employee would do while at work, and in the midst of a chat about something else she blurts out, “I could have stayed in your arms forever, I loved how the world just disappeared, and all I wanted was you.”  YEAH!  Do I have the best wife in the world or WHAT?  I do, I know I do!

 

Sometimes when the light bulb comes on, it really comes on.  In that moment, something really clicked for me!!  The thing I want in life the most, the thing I desire, is to be restored!  RESTORATION!!  Bring it on!!

 

Restored?  To what?  You have a beautiful wife, you have a job, to what do you want to restore back to.  Restoration, as in being restored to a previous point in history, not really, but sort of.  If restoration in history, the point in time I have in mind, is the Garden of Eden!

 

The restoration I’m talking about is the restoring of creation to its original perfect purpose!  The restoration of the world that will happen when King Jesus comes back, and fulfills everything.  This restoration will be greater than that which was found in the garden.  Creation groans for this.  I groan for this.  Oh to walk with Christ in the cool of the day, to walk and talk with Him.  To have perfect fellowship with God almighty once again!

 

Sometimes I like to bask in the warmth of the sun.  But OH to bask in the sufficiency of the presence of God that will FILL the entire earth.

 

Sometimes I like a good steak.  But OH the fellowship of the divine will consume all and every appetite, perfectly!

 

Sometimes I like hanging out with friends.  But OH to fellowship with the world, perfectly, and to have perfect fellowship in the Spirit!  No more fights, no more murder, no more rape, no more poverty, no more HIV epidemics…..just pleasure and joy forevermore!!

 

So the next time you fight with your spouse or whomever, seek out restoration!  We were made to be restored.  Seek it out among yourselves, die to yourself, and live for others.

 

This song sings beautifully about how God longs to be restored to us, by Neal Morse, one of my favorites.

Winter Blues and the All-Sufficiency of Christ

As I’m writing this, I am what I wrote.  Grumpy!  I am also in pain.  My neck hurts and feels like Bruce Lee just chopped into the side of my neck.  My elbow has been hurting me for three weeks, inhibiting me from working out, and doing the things I want to.  Oh, lets not talk about that looming dentist check up I’m due for…like 10 years overdue for (I’ve been poor for quite some time, have pity for me?)  And the sun, does it even exist?  I mean its January in the cold north, but c’mon….and it goes on and on.

It’s no secret.  The winter doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in us.  The weather doesn’t naturally bring us outside as it does during summer.  In summer, the sun calls us into its warm sunny playground, asking us to drink deeply of its days of summer. Come the winter solstice, the sun becomes more like that grumpy friend who at his best day growls some sort of complaint, and so is bestowed to us the same tendency.  In fact, I don’t know of anyone who is just ENRAPTURED by the dark of winter.  “Oh YAAY, darkness, cool air on my neck, weather to make my joints stiff, kind of like……when I DIE!”

So what is the solution?  Many people have different ways of coping with winter.  From the rich northerly traditions of Minnesota, people often find relief in outdoor sports like cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, winter camping, and hunting.  Sometimes we turn our ski slopes into tubing hills, in which we SCREAM down hills in inner tubes, for those who can’t stand up on wooden planks on a hill.

Me?  What do I do?  Well I like to think about what I would do, ideally.  Because what I currently do is not all that exciting (saunas….thats all I have to say).  I think the best way to do winter would be to build myself a mountain chalet.  One right on the side of some mountains, with a huge fireplace.  No four fireplaces, so there could be nice little circles of discussion and activity around each.  One could be the Irish music circle, where men and women both old and young could sing Irish songs outloud to each other while sipping “spiced” cider, with toothless grandpa dancing a jig around everyone.  Or another circle could have CS Lewis read his books to us, and give a commentary to everything (yes, in this world CS Lewis would be alive).  And then in the back, Jesus would be leading Sunday School type lessons, with felt-boards recounting how silly Peter looked when he learned he couldn’t walk on water….

Wait, Jesus in the back?  But isn’t that what we do sometimes?  Were down, depressed, blue, and what do we do?  Take a look at our bookshelves, “Hm, what does CS Lewis have to say about winter blues?”  Or maybe we go to alcohol and drink the blues away right into bed.  Or do you cry out to the maker of your body?  Do you talk to the artisan of the Universe who thought of the idea of darkness and snow before you were born?  Do you ask the architect of seasons who made them just the way he wanted to, and ask him to help you?  The Word of God says, we don’t have things, because we don’t ask.  Are you asking?  Just sayin’.

Join me in recalibrating our worldview, so that God once again rests at the core of our lives, the All Sufficient One, the Gracious One, the Understanding One, the Healing One, the only force in the Universe capable of blowing away the winter blues with the fresh warm air of His Word!!

Perhaps winter is one of those classrooms where God sits at the fringes just waiting, just waiting to teach you, to show you just how sufficient He is.

A very strange man and simplicity

Today as I was coming home on the train I noticed someone peculiar enter the train and sit not too far from me.  He had a confederate style long-coat from the Civil War, army boots from the Vietnam era but fashionably shiny!  Long disheveled hair that came scrunchingly down to his shoulders and the back of his head puffed up like he had just removed his morning pillow and checked it at the El Train entrance.  When he sat down a thought came across my mind, “Why is he wearing a confederate coat?  Oh no…he is probably one of those hyper-southern boys who think the south will rise again.  Daaaang it!  I hope he doesn’t go off on any black people in here.”

Upon sitting down he creased his face with a smile ever so slight, that if he were to relax it at all, it might appear he was more constipated than smiling.  The smile didn’t disappear for the entire ride.  In fact it would ebb and flow from a full out toothy smile to a mere smirk.  Most of the time he was just sitting there with his eyes closed.  At first I thought “Man this guy has to be on crack!  He’s enjoying his lonesome self WAY too much.”  There was just something off about him.

It was then that I noticed something horrible!  His hands were in his confederate coat, with his backpack on his lap, moving towards his “mid-section area”.  He even at one point……never mind, this is a PG rated website.  Suffice to say he was feeling himself up.

That’s where my story ends, and where my introspection started!  I thought to myself…

What if he was mentally simple?

What if in being simple, his world was really really small?

What keeps me from just busting out in an all out smile on the El?

Here are my thoughts.  We all like to feel taken care of, on a very basic level.  We like to have food in the fridge, we like to feel well and not sick, we like to feel loved, we like to feel as if someone, somewhere is thinking about us and cares for us.  We have all those needs, plus needs that we wish we didn’t have.  We wish we didn’t have bills, rent, an ornery teenager to confront when you get home, a leaky faucet your wife has been nagging you to fix, or you just wish you would feel satisfied with yourself, but you don’t because you may be a perfectionist, always SOMETHING to improve on.

Now what if all those went away!!  Yeah, what if there were no bills, no nasty comittments, no uncomfortable appointments….Boom!  Gone!  What if it was just you and your family.

Our ability of satisfaction is deeply connected with our appetite of things we desire.  If a man has a big stomach, it will take a big meal to satisfy him, whereas a small stomach requires less.  A mansion requires much furnishing and decor for it to feel like it was meant to be, a mansion.  You don’t put a studio’s worth of furniture into a mansion.

Are you happy?  Do you constantly feel under-par with yourself?  Our life appetite just may be too big for us!

Coming back to the stomach analogy, it may not be what food we get to fill our stomach, but where we get the food from.  A question of sufficiency!  We are beings that have been created for eternity, therefore we may find ourselves with a life appetite that nothing mortal or perishable can satisfy.  We are in need of something divine, something eternal, something that will LAST!!

Enter into the sufficiency of Christ!!