Archive for March, 2014

The Godhead as Ultimate Preppers and Our Model

March 30, 2014

Jesus said in essence, “I do ONLY what I see My Father doing.” (John 5:19; see also 14:-10) He is our role model. (Philippians 2:5-12 and several others) What if we could see the entire Godhead, Three-in-One, as working individually and together as “preppers”? What if we could see ourselves as the applied outworking of His prepper heart in this world? Let’s consider the Scripture record in that light.

I. God the Father: The Initiating Prepper

“In the beginning God created…” Is there any way He could NOT have prepared? Stored up His thoughts and heart toward making a created universe and all the ramifications of what that meant? It had to include the Fall of Man and the resulting need for the Plan of Salvation! Jesus told the Pharisees, “You diligently search and study the Scriptures for you think that in them you have life [and indeed we do!] but it’s ME they’re pointing to, and you miss that entirely!” (John 5:39, paraphrased) God the Father HAD to have had that in mind prior to creation.

We could list multiple instances of men God prepared for the role He intended them to play:

  • Adam: God prepared a garden for him, then the perfect partner in Eve, etc.
  • Noah: God had a very clear plan for building the ark, and it came after He had carefully weighed out all the rest of the earth and found it going down the tube (Genesis 6)
  • Moses: God prepared the midwives Shiprah and Puah to spare male babies (probably resulting in Aaron’s life being spared, Exodus 1:15), his parents to be ready to risk death to save him in the tarred basket, his sister Miriam to watch him, Pharaoh’s daughter to receive him, Pharaoh’s court to train him in all the arts of Egypt (leadership and perhaps survival skills, at least by their standards), his awareness of his calling to save his people (the man’s response “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” [Exodus 2:14] could almost be interpreted, “Who made you our rescuer?”], the 40 years in the desert leading up to the burning bush, his father-in-law Jethro—the list goes on and on, and we haven’t even gotten to the actual exodus narrative portion!
  • Joseph: His dreams foretold his destiny, and paved the way in a most unexpected way, for him to be able to say at the end of Genesis, “God sent me here ahead of you to prepare
  • David: Called by God “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22), he specifically stated, “When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

As Hebrews 11:32 says, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets…” The list could go on and on: Joshua, Rahab, Ruth and Boaz, Samuel, even Saul; Jonah and the whole list of prophets prepared to speak to Israel’s need to prepare for God’s wrath by changing course; even those who did evil: Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and the evil kings of Judah and Israel.

Indeed, it would be difficult to NOT see the hand of God the Father prepping each and every person uniquely and individually. Jesus reassured the crowds, “Nothing takes God by surprise—even to the death of a small, seemingly insignificant sparrow. He has the very hairs of your head numbered, so don’t worry! He cares a lot more about you!” (Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7, paraphrased, emphasis added)

II. Jesus as Instituting Prepper

As we saw in the introductory line above, Jesus saw Himself as the Father’s hands and heart in action. He is pictured by the writer of Hebrews (10:5) this way: “…when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.” (NKJV) [This is a reference to David’s prophetic statement in Psalm 40:6-8, using the Septuagint version for the last phrase; most of our translations have this rendering in the footnote, with the main translation being “my ears you have pierced/opened,” which may be a reference Exodus 21:6, where piercing the ear of a servant has reached the end of his indentured time, but voluntarily chooses to stay with his master—in that way pointing to Jesus’s voluntary willingness to do His Father’s will to the nth degree.]

John in Revelation (13:8) saw Jesus as “the Lamb who was killed before the world was made.” (NLT} [Alternate readings place the prepositional phrase together with people whose names were not {and, by inference, those whose names are} written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Either way, for our purposes, the emphasis is on the preparing hand of God in partnership with Jesus, the Lamb.] Jesus clearly stated over and over in the Gospels that He had come to seek, to save, to die, and to be resurrected to life. He was prepared to go the distance, in ways that make Him “the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NKJV) He is our model for prepping in practice.

III. The Holy Spirit as Imparting Prepper

We are the extension of Jesus in this world: “as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17) We are called His Body, and we are the instruments God uses to accomplish His purposes in the world. Thus, seeing God the Father as initiating and Jesus as instituting, we are commissioned by the empowering of the Holy Spirit to carry on the work to completion. Paul asserted, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him [or, what has been committed to me] until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) The Holy Spirit is seen in Scripture as:

  • Equipping us uniquely and individually with our particular gifts and callings (1 Corinthians 12:3-11; Exodus 3:3, 31; Romans 11:29; Hebrews 2:4) for a heart of service (Romans 7:6)
  • Uniting and unifying us in and through that diversity (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Acts 15:8; Romans 15:5; Ephesians 4:3-4; Philippians 1:27; 2:2; Jude 20)
  • Empowering us for clear communication (1 Corinthians 14:2-33; Matthew 10:20; Ephesians 2:18; 2 Peter 1:21)
  • Teaching us all we need to know exactly when we need it (John 14:26), bringing us into the truth/truths we need to know (1 John 2:20,27; 3:24; 4:1-6; Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 2:10-14; 3:16; Galatians 5:18, 25)
  • Creating and authorizing leadership (Exodus 11:16-17, 24-30; Acts 13:1-2; 15:28; Galatians 4:29; 2 Timothy 1:7)
  • The instrument of conception (Matthew 1:18, 20), power (3:16; 12:28), guidance (4:1), authority (12:18; 22:43; 28:19)—and this is just in one gospel!

IV. The Church as Incarnating Prepper

We are called to BE the “ikon,” the representational likeness, the imprinting, the coinage, as it were, of God in this world. Paul said, “I want you to know that God has been made rich because you who belong to Christ have been given to him.” (Ephesians 1:18, Living Bible paraphrase by Kenneth Taylor) God counts us as the wealth He has chosen, the investment of all investments, His specially chosen people called to bring light into an increasingly dark world (1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:12-16). Many of the Scriptures in the section above speak of the Holy Spirit operating in and through us—it follows that if He is the Imparting Prepper, there has to be someone to impart to!

The preaching of the gospel includes our becoming “living letters” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3), able to be read clearly by people who need and, perhaps even unknowingly long for, Good News (see Romans 8:22-23). This is manifest primarily in our actions—as St. Francis of Assisi is reputed to have said, “Wherever you go, preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” We are the embodiment of who God wants to be and what He wants to do in this world. We are called, as Noah was, to build an ark for the salvation of many, to create storehouses, as Joseph did, for the sustenance of many.

God has a “prepper heart,” and He has planted that heart in His people for purposes beyond anything we may be able to comprehend (see Ephesians 1:19-21; 3:16, 20). Let’s go and do it!                             KCSJr 29 March 2014

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Exit Strategies and Succession Planning

March 27, 2014

[The following is another email to Russ–if this keeps going, I may need to start a blog titled something like Emails to Russ <G>. It follows on a conversation with him yesterday about his feeling the need to be planning an exit strategy and some frustrations he expressed about that.]

Russ:

I had some thoughts on your comments yesterday about exit strategy and your dissatisfaction, thoughts that kind of gelled later on.

1) I’m not sure, strictly speaking, that a planned exit strategy is Scriptural. I don’t see Jesus advising the disciples to do so or to try to figure out how to pass the “company” on in any way other than organically, i.e., simply by being who they were and “doing the behaviors” of being a Christian, allowing the chips to fall where they may. I know that is counter-cultural, but statistically (I’ve heard) 50% of men who retire (I don’t think it applies the same to women, who aren’t as driven as men–see point #3 below) die within 1 year of retiring. I’ve heard others say you shouldn’t retire–find something else to move your competence into–e.g., volunteer work, etc.–that’s definitely a better option. Retirement is just not painted as an option in the Scriptures.

If you look at other examples in Scripture, you don’t see effective planning for succession as a matter of course. Usually it’s a pretty brutal thing as it happens–Jesus being the most notable example, though I think his exit was more planned than most, and you could argue from that, with him being our model, that it is indeed scriptural. You see David bungling the whole transition, and Solomon rapidly making a bunch of power plays to confirm his kingship. Samuel didn’t rear his sons well, and Israel booted his successors out on that count. Elijah resisted handing the mantle over to Elijah, and had to be forced into it (I heard a teaching once that Elijah was so afraid of dying that he deliberately didn’t do 2 of the last 3 things the Lord commanded him, had to be pressed into doing the one he did–handing off to Elisha–and was taken up in the fiery chariot strictly as an act of grace so he wouldn’t have to die! Pretty radical thinking there….)

2) This is not to say you shouldn’t plan for it or try to move toward it–simply that you need to place the whole idea before the Lord. The pressure to do this may be part of your frustration with the Lord (or it may not). One way to figure it out is to get some counsel–from your wife, from some other trusted Christian leaders you know who may have insights on it but also have a wealth and depth of background in being rooted in the Scriptures (Dr. Bob Shearer comes to mind–he has a law degree, a divinity degree, and at 70 is working full-time for FCA and just had his first grandchild–I’ll be glad to introduce you if you don’t know him. He too, like you, moved into this area).

Also, you might do a study of retirement and succession planning in Scripture. I could be totally wrong in what I said in point #1 above. My own course of life is a testimony to my lack of planning, which I am not entirely happy about–but at age 20, I simply wanted to get to the end of my life with a zero balance–and I’m headed there. I once heard a Christian friend I admired (now deceased), who had retired from Pickens County School District as a junior-high school PE coach and drivers-ed instructor, say, “When I was young, I decided I’d never be rich. I succeeded!” There may even be some good books or audio’s out there on the topic, though I’m sure a lot of them would be the product of the wealth and prosperity mentality prevalent in Christianity today–you don’t see a lot of best-sellers on going as a missionary, taking a vow of poverty, or even (to spin off your comment yesterday) fasting. Still, even some of them may have a nugget that encourages you.
3) I recently listened to an hour-long audio by John Eldredge (available on the Ransomed Heart website) which impacted me enough that I transcribed most of it. I’m attaching a copy of that. He has come to the conclusion that The Spirit of the Age [the title of the teaching], for our age, is DRIVENNESS, and he offers some pointers for helping us see that spirit for how it impacts us, and some ways of identifying it and potentially overcoming it. Great message. It helped me see the need to cut back (because of it and the situation with my grandson, I realized I need to resign from being chairman of a local organization I’m heading, and I’m in process of transitioning over the reins in the next month). We fail to realize how impacted we are by the world we live in, how we are pressured and molded into their way of thinking, contrary to what Romans 12:2 admonishes.

4) Sometimes, we feel pressure like you’re feeling as something akin to labor pains, and the birthing (for a first-time mother) has to be, without a doubt, something totally unfamiliar. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly, or in undesired ways, and is not at all pleasant, but, as Scripture says, after the baby is born, the mother forgets the pain she went through b/c of the joy of the newborn being there. That may happen to you also–what some have called “a suddenly”–something totally unpredicted and unpredictable. (That is what has happened to me over the last 2 years, with this latest grandson coming into my world in  a major way.) Joseph in the OT is a prime example–how could he predict after 2 “full” years in prison, he’s be Prime Minister of Egypt the next day? Could David foresee Samuel’s anointing, or the dozen years it would be in coming to fulfillment? (Interestingly, about the same time frame and roughly the same chronological ages [from age 17 to age 30] as Joseph’s journey from his visions to his ascension to power.) Jesus said no one could know the day of his coming, but that the pressure building up to it would be like a woman in travail. Imagine you were a Jew living in Germany in the late 1930’s–could you imagine the horror of the Holocaust having been consummated within a few short years? I’ve asked people, Is there any 5- or 10-year plan the disciples could have come up with on the Mount of Ascension that would rival what actually transpired?  Sometimes, it may well be that the pressure we’re feeling is meant to thrust us into a new birthing of some sort, something we could never in our wildest dreams have predicted, but which is so radically joyful that we couldn’t have anticipated it anyway!

Final thought: Basically, only you and the Lord ( and perhaps with some input from your wife) can figure out who, what and where you’re supposed to be in the coming days. And even then, keep in mind that famous old adage,

“Man plans–God laughs!’

With some joyful laughter (or a least a big smile) to mirror God’s–

Blessings,

Ken

Golden Tickets and Yellow Post-It Notes

March 23, 2014

My 2½-year-old grandson, after watching 2 movies that had “golden tickets” in them (Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Polar Express), was so fascinated with the idea that he began grabbing yellow Post-It notes from our office and handing them out. He was so fun to watch in his excitement. (He definitely has to be “kinesthetic” on the Visual/Auditory/Kinesthetic scale, as much as he loves touching, feeling, and emoting!)

In trying to figure out what lessons I can extrapolate from this fascination he had with this, I can think of several (and you’re welcome to add to my list!):

1) There are often “golden tickets” available in our lives that we’re unaware of.

2) We should celebrate them gloriously, effusively, extravagantly.

3) It might even be wise to create them out of thin air, to take Golden Post-It TIckets  and stick them up everywhere!

Life is meant to be celebrated anywhere and everywhere. I remember reading one of Laurie Beth Jones’s stories about (I think) a real estate agent who kept a bottle of champagne in the trunk of his car, just so he could celebrate at a moment’s notice! Would that we were that anticipatory, that perceptive of life’s waiting opportunities!

Why don’t we aim for that???

You just ever know where it might take us!

Individualized Spiritual Testing

March 9, 2014

[NOTE: The following email dialog is based on the March 7 reading in the devotional book titled The One Year Christian History by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten (Tyndale, 2003). To give a thumbnail background, Vibia Perpetua was a young mother in Carthage who died a martyr on March 7, 203, for being unwilling to give up her faith at the command of the Roman emperor Septimius Serverus, even at the strong urging of her father, explaining that, as a vase or water pot could not become what it was not made to be, she could not be other than the Christian she had been called to be.]

Russ,

Been thinking about this comment since you mentioned it the other day, and then yesterday had a chance to read it.

Not sure that it is true in an absolute sense that she was a “better” person. Consider these things:

1) No father has the same expectations for individual accomplishment for every child. Right? If I remember right, you had 2 children–you didn’t treat them EXACTLY the same, did you? I know I didn’t my 2, nor my 2 step-children. One interpretation of the scripture from Proverbs “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” is with emphasis on the “HE” in the 1st part–i.e., NOT the way some other child should go, but the way intended specifically for him in God’s incredibly unique design.

2) When needed, each of us can be a hero. I wanted to state that succinctly. What I mean is, when we are called upon by circumstances to stand, to be a witness, the empowerment to do so will be there. Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place), who was imprisoned in Nazi Germany for hiding Jews, and was the only one of her family who survived, told of a story when she was a child. She asked her father the meaning of some term she heard, something vulgar and not appropriate for her age. He said, “Corrie, when we go somewhere on the train, when do I give you your ticket?” She said, “When I need it, after we get on.” He replied, “When you need to know that, you will know.” And that is generally true of our spiritual tests. I don’t believe Jesus could not have undergone the temptation in the wilderness PRIOR to being baptized and having the Holy Spirit come on him. In fact, Scripture specifically states that it was the Spirit who led him into the wilderness! I remember being impressed with the story of a French nun in Africa who was being raped by a group of guerrilla fighters who ravaged so much in the 20th century. Right in the midst of being raped, traumatic as that must have been, she heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “I have need of your body.” She somehow managed to cooperate, and ended up later leading at least one of her captors to Christ. Not a test I would have wanted to undergo. But we are each called to our own test, and we each “succeed” or “fail” based on our loving Father’s expectations for us in that particular test–not by tests given to others.

Hope that helps. I think you are doing a great job of following the Lord–as great in your own way as Vibia!

Congratulations, Russ Perpetuus (masculine of Perpetua!)…<G>

 

Ken