Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

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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Letter to Roby on Becoming the You You Were Meant to Be

January 18, 2013

(Below is the last part of an email I wrote to a friend this morning. What preceded the first comment was my explanation of an accomplishment I’ve done that he admired in his email to me…)

I don’t encourage people to do what I’ve done. You have to find what sparks your imagination and do that. You are a totally unique creation God designed specifically to be and do what you are called to be and do. As the old Mission Impossible statement says, “Your assignment, should you choose to accept it…” is to find out what that is, and do it excellently, just as you do your accounting. That is why you are unhappy with yourself–I know, I was there for the better part of 55 years (I’m 60 now)! It IS doable.

Here’s are the rubs that are keeping you from getting there (I thought of 1, then another, so not sure how many I’ll list here):

1)     FACT 1: Our culture does NOT encourage contentment, satisfaction, or real joy. They SAY they want you to be happy, but if you think about it, NOTHING sells unless there is DISSATISFACTION! The entire premise of advertising and marketing is CREATING DISSATISFACTION! (Read Romans 12:1-2 in this light, and you will see that by and large, Christianity in our culture has bought into being “conformed to the world” rather than being “transformed” into the Glory they were meant to be!)

2)     FACT 2: Christianity as taught ant practiced typically says “Our hearts are BAD, and we can’t trust them.” And there is a truth there, but it’s only a partial one. Scripture also says that when the Lord comes in, He gives us a NEW HEART, one that DESIRES to serve Him, to love Him, to worship Him. If we really believed that, and lived it, it would transform our lives into lives of PASSION and DESIRE–but DESIRE THAT IS GOOD AND WHOLESOME AND AWESOME IN THE WAY IT IS LIVED OUT! And THAT, my friend, is what Jesus was willing to DIE for (“for the JOY that was set before Him, endured the cross…” etc.)

3)     FACT 3: NOTHING EVER GETS DONE OF ANY SIGNIFICANCE WITHOUT DESIRE AND PASSION! Think about it: All of us do the very things we WANT! We may even sabotage and kill ourselves doing it, but we MAKE time for what we FEEL is valuable! It IS ultimately about the FEELING, and only when you get passionate and on-fire for something will you invest the time and energy to make it work. Millionaires become so mostly through this–it’s the one keystone that mentors and positive thinking teachers and motivational speakers build their careers on!

4)     FACT 4: You are UNIQUE, and NO ONE can tell you exactly how to find that PASSION and DESIRE! Most of our society, sadly, spends all its time trying to be something they are not, were not designed to be, and never will successfully be! It’s true, but it doesn’t have to be this way. BUT in order to escape it, you have to become YOU! No one else can do it for you. It may be a pain-full process, but ultimately, it is well worth it! (See #3 above.)

5)     FACT 5: You don’t have to do it alone–and yet you do. There are people out there (like me) willing to help you get there–but you have to put the rubber to the road. And as one of the mentors I listen to says (if you like, I’ll send you a link), you have to have 4 kinds of people in your support group: teachers, doers, pushers, and cheerleaders. Usually they are NOT all combined into one person who “speaks into your life.” That’s one of the values I see in this group we’re in–and I’ve not had that kind of thing for most of my life.

6)     FACT 6: You won’t get there overnight. As the saying goes, an “overnight success” most likely has put in decades becoming that. BUT DON’T LET THAT DISCOURAGE YOU! If you do nothing, 5 or 10 years will STILL pass, and you’ll be at least as dissatisfied as you are now. Charlie Tremendous Jones said, “The only difference between the you now and the you you’ll be in 5 years is the people you meet and the books you read.” Lot of truth in that statement. There are other factors in it too, but basically, you have to commit to a PROCESS! As Steven Covey says, “Start with the end in view.” (With this advice, he advocates picturing your funeral, with 4 people who knew you in different ways [family, friend, co-worker, and one other–can’t remember right now]–and ask yourself, “What do they say about you? What would you want them to say?” Then begin consciously, conscientiously, and persistently to work toward that vision of yourself at your own funeral. Good exercise.

7)     FACT 7: Books are one of the easiest ways to gain wisdom–but you HAVE to pick the right books! You have limited time, limited energy, and limited passion–so use them wisely. Someone said, “An intelligent man learns from his mistakes; a wise one learns from others’ mistakes.” In that vein, I’ve attached an Excel spreadsheet of a book I recently read and thought enough of to encapsulate in this chart. One of the authors is Jack Canfield, of “Chicken Soup” fame, and his story is in there too. The book is titled YOU’VE GOT TO READ THIS BOOK! but the subtitle says it all: 55 stories by people telling what books changed their lives. Jack is one of the people; Covey is another. Yes, some of the books are NOT Christian, and could lead people into Buddhism or Stoicism, or “New-Agey” thinking–but I’ll take that chance. One of the books mentioned is the Bible, and God’s Word CAN and WILL stand the test–it really, as Roy says, is the “Book of Best Practices,” not only for business but for ALL of life! And I firmly believe that the principles Christianity is solidly based on (e.g., faith) are actually laws in the sense that gravity and inertia are laws: They operate on their own, by God’s design, whether we acknowledge them as coming from Him or His Word or not! Think about it: Every time you turn on a light switch, or the ignition switch for your car, you’re operating in faith!

I’ll stop off here. I would suggest you begin by making a list of 10 books you want to read this year. I can suggest some if you like, and even lend you some (though I really recommend you INVEST in them, as that will make them mean more to you, and you can then annotate them, a valuable exercise in itself). And I can suggest some other things to get you on track of living that ABUNDANT LIFE Jesus promised as we go along.

I’m glad to get to know you. Thanks for being someone I can invest my talents into!

Blessings,
Ken

Reality Is and I Am

January 11, 2013

Descartes’ famous line, “I think; therefore I am,” can be interpreted at least two ways. Most probably Descartes meant, “Because I know I am able to think, this means I exist, since ‘obviously’ I had to exist before I could have the capacity to think.”

However, I think (here meaning that I am simply observing something about this statement <g>) in our times, we tend to interpret it an opposite way, something akin to “I think myself into existence,” or, closer to what is often said, “My thinking is what creates my reality.”

And it may be that we have a reality that we create by our thinking. But, again, “obviously,” there must be a Reality (I’m capitalizing it to distinguish it from the “reality” I can—if I can—create through my thinking it into existence) that has an existence outside me. Some simple examples might be the existence of Japan as a country or gravity as a principle of physics. I can deny either, but that does not deny the Reality—however, it WILL affect my interaction with that Reality. If I choose to disbelieve the Reality of Japan, I may not believe it possible to literally travel there; I may carry it further and refuse to recognize the existence of people I meet who claim to be from Japan, and cut off communication with them when they try to convince me. And I could even carry it further into absurdity in ways that might force others to have to act—if, say, I try to eliminate anyone who claims to be Japanese. Similarly, if I simply believe gravity doesn’t exist, it may not matter, but if I believe enough to act, I may fall off high places, resulting in injury or death.

You can see the point here, and apply it in countless ways. Belief determines action. What I believe does not determine Reality, but it does determine reality, how my “reality” interacts with other Realities. And to be honest, we cannot act without believing something—we believe that a light switch or car ignition will “work,” that a chair or a set of stairs will support my weight, etc. I’m not a philosopher, so I’m keeping this on a simply basis here.

Now, without going deeply into philosophical or theological issues, I want to apply this principle briefly to the concept of evolution and Christianity’s historical opposition to it on root-level concepts, in a simplistic way. At the root, the idea that evolution is espousing is that “things” ultimately get better. Christianity comes closer to what is called scientifically the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or in “Bubba-speak,” Murphy’s Law: Ultimately, things fall apart, break, break down, fail. [In a larger context, however, Christianity comes closer to evolution’s thinking, in asserting that ultimately God WILL redeem everything and make it better than it ever was. This is reflected in Romans 8:28, “ALL things work together for good,” and other places in the Bible.]

My point in all this is not to “diss” evolution, but rather to say, again, belief determines action. If we believe evolutionarily (if that is a word), we may miss important factors that can cause us to crash and burn. If we go too far on the negative end (“all is vanity”), we may become fatalistic and refuse to act (which is itself a form of action, but a downhill one).

I choose to believe that I have the God-given capacity to choose, and therein lies my responsibility. What do I do with the talent(s) I am given? That is what I will ultimately be judged on, by others, by God (the Ultimate Reality), and even by myself (I can, e.g., cause damage to my body by how I act on what I believe, and my psychological well-being will definitely prosper or suffer based on how I act on what I believe).

Christianity has a long-standing image, a word-picture, that captures this basic idea of Reality: a rock. In one place in Scripture, Jesus pictured Himself as “The Rock,” and Peter as “a rock.” In another, He said, “Whoever throws himself on this Rock will be broken, but whomever It falls on will be crushed.” We get the choice: Do we allow ourselves to be broken in small ways by the Reality we face? Or are we choosing to head toward being crushed by it? We choose, in the here-and-now, by multitudes of small choices we make.

The WORD as Transformative Agent in Our Lives

March 12, 2012

More and more, I am convinced that the Word of God—the written Scriptures as revealed by the Holy Spirit and implanted and absorbed deeply into our spirits—is the real agent of effective change in our lives. Deep-rooted change only occurs as we are brought into alignment with the eternal purposes of the Living God by soaking in this Word. Listen to what one writer says:

      In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

      Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

       But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. (James 1:21b-25, THE MESSAGE)

Absorbing the Word into our very being—what has through the centuries been called “meditation,” “Bible study,” “praying the Scriptures,” etc.—is what changes us into the image and character of God. If he truly is alive in what he has called his word, then we do well to try to get hold of as much of that part of God as we can.

One of my greatest sadnesses—and yet one of the most powerful components of our present Information-Age society—is its focus on the visual (to the exclusion of the aural/oral heritage our ancestors valued). A century of visual media has brought us into a type of unquestioning EDtv mentality, where our lives are a 24/7 “reality show” that has become as unreal as that of the character Truman (Jim Carrey) in The Truman Show, like Jim Carrey. On one level we are watching ourselves and aware that we are being watched, and so we “performing,” on-stage, our own “American idol,” internalized and always playing to our own music. We post on Twitter and Facebook our locations, our actions, and our thinking, hoping somehow that all this will make us feel truly alive.

We used to say, “Seeing is believing.” Perhaps we have come beyond even consciously thinking in those terms—we are simply immersed in seeing, and being seen. We don’t want to spend time alone, time in the quiet of our inner minds. We need the distractions of the autistic, over-inputted culture we’ve created for ourselves. We can’t stand not being bombarded with information, with pictures and mindless information coming at us from all angles. Sometimes, we are afraid of being alone and quiet because we fear finding we really don’t have any inner substance that we can call our own.

Meditating and internalizing Scripture can change that. It can quieten us, lead us beside “still waters,” restore our souls. It can enable us to find value in ourselves, in that part of us that is connected with God, that is coming alive as we tune into him, allow him time and place to quietly replace that frenzy we have thought was aliveness, but was really distractedness and was slowly sapping any true energy we had, evaporating any residue of real life we once knew, if indeed we ever did know it.

Because we are so visual, pictures speak to us, and that is not a bad thing in and of itself. Visualizing something enables us to bring it into being, and if we can begin to visualize settings where the Word can do its transformative work, then we can use where we are to get to where we want to be. The verb “to meditate” in Hebrew has as one of its more visual meanings, “to chew the cud.” Picture a cow that has plucked enough grass to fill its first stomach, lying down peacefully and regurgitating to chew on it more fully before swallowing into a second stomach to get the most out of the meal. If we can take the Word and let it work in us that way, finding those Scriptures which fill our first longing, draw it into our mind again and yet again and truly digest it, finding more meatiness and deeper satisfaction as we “chew the cud,” we will find that we are changed “from glory to glory,” more fully into the ikon of Christ, the image of God.

Another image Scripture uses in speaking of the value of the Word is that of silver “refined seven times” (Psalm 12:6). Adam Clarke, a Bible expositor writing in 1832, described the process this way:

Silver tried in a furnace of earth
A reference to the purification of silver by the cupel. This is a sort of instrument used in the purification of silver. It may be formed out of a strong iron ring or hoop, adjusted in width and depth to the quantum of silver to be purified, and rammed full of well pulverized calcined bone. The metal to be purified must be mingled with lead, and laid on the cupel, and exposed to a strong heat in an air furnace. The impurities of the metal will be partly absorbed, and partly thrown off in fume. The metal will continue in a state of agitation till all the impurities are thrown off; it will then become perfectly still, no more motion appearing, which is the token that the process is completed, or, according to the words of the text, is seven times, that is, perfectly purified.

http://studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=12&verse=6#Ps12_6

Picture ourselves as going through this refining process to such an extent that the Word in us becomes that mirroring silver, so totally pure that we truly reflect the glory (beauty, abundance, radiance, brilliance, weightiness) of God in our lives! What a goal! The Word does indeed have that transformative effect.

Another picture we can relate to is the full moon, which has no light of its own yet can shine in brilliance by reflecting the sun (Son?) to such an extent that there’s difficulty sleeping because of the light coming in the windows. Or that same full moon can sometimes be seen as a huge red or orange ball on the horizon, or the golden globe of harvest. Our lives can become this brilliant as we reflect on—and reflect— the Word that they too shine and hold in awe like such a full moon, or cause others and ourselves to have difficulty sleeping.

My words here are a feeble attempt to point to what the pure word “refined seven times” is capable of in our lives. Psalm 19:7-11 (NKJV) says it well, using multiple synonyms for the Word:

7The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 119 is another psalm that uses multiple synonyms for the Word. It has 176 verses, beautifully set up as an acrostic of the Hebrew alphabet (the first 8 verses begin with the letter aleph, the next 8 with the letter beth, etc.; 8 x 22 Hebrew letters yields 176 verses).  One of those verses (72) says:

Your teachings are worth more to me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. (NCV)

If we really believed that, where would we be investing? What is the current value of a minimum of one thousand ounces of gold and one thousand ounces of silver? At a price of $1,700/ounce for gold and $34 for silver, that calculates out to close to two million dollars! Who wants to be a millionaire? Maybe we should take James’ advice:

Act on what you hear!”