Joseph, The Righteous Man

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly.
-Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary, when she told him that she was pregnant.  She told him something that didn\’t make sense.  She told him that she had not had another man in her life, but that she was visited by an angel, who told her that God would cause her to be pregnant, in a miraculous way. 

We do not know how Joseph judged Mary\’s account of how she became pregnant.  What we do know is how he responded to this crisis.  He responded with mercy and honor in a righteous way.

Joseph\’s betrothal to Mary was a more serious  matter than engagements of couples today.  In today\’s language, Joseph was already Mary\’s husband, while Mary remained at her father\’s household. 

It would be hard enough to find out that your fiance, today, was pregnant with someone else\’s baby; but Joseph\’s responsibilities were heavier in his day, because he was legally bound to Mary and had to decide what to do.  In this kind of situation, a man could have his betrothed branded as an adulteress.  But that is not what Joseph had in mind to do.

Joseph was righteous, kind, and merciful with Mary.  He was going to annul the marriage quietly and let Mary have her baby.  We do not know whether he believed Mary or not.  What we do know is that he treated her with dignity and respect.  Joseph acted with benevolence, charitability and kindness.

Adultery was punishable by stoning under the law, although there is no evidence that it was practiced during Jesus lifetime(1).  Joseph reminds us of how Jesus treated the woman brought to him who was caught in adultery (John 8:3-11).  The men who brought her were asking Jesus to endorse the stoning of her.  They brought her to Jesus, saying that the law demands that she be punished by death.  Jesus, the embodiment of God\’s righteousness, did something else.

Joseph, who was living out an authentic, righteous life; had to decide what to do in response to Mary\’s news that she was pregnant.  Joseph\’s righteousness was tempered with kindness, honor, and mercy; just like Jesus.  Joseph did not want to punish Mary.  He also did not want to go ahead and marry her, because that would be unrighteous as well, in his mind.  The righteous thing to do was to not humiliate her and quietly divorce her.

Joseph shows us what righteousness is.  He desired to live within God\’s laws, but also to have God\’s heart.  God\’s heart says, \”I desire mercy and not sacrifice\”(Hosea 6:6, Matt. 9:13). 

Joseph seems insignificant compared to Mary.  After Jesus\’ childhood, we don\’t see him.  But Joseph is very significant.  How he treated Mary is very important.  God inspired Matthew to tell us in a matter of fact way that Joseph was a righteous man and illustrates this.  Joseph was interested in following God\’s heart.  He was kind, merciful, and benevolent.

This is the man who got to hold baby Jesus.  This is the man who got to raise him.  This is the man who taught Jesus a trade.  He taught him how to live.  He taught him how to treat a woman.

If you are a man and specifically a father or will be a father, you need to understand that this is your second most important function, role, or assignment in your life.  Your most important thing is being God\’s child.

Joseph and Mary\’s lives were not a charade.  They were real people trying to live out normal, godly lives.  God selected Mary to do a one time thing that people have not stopped talking about.  Joseph has something in common with God, in that he saw something in Mary and selected her also.

While Joseph was making his selection of Mary, God was also selecting Joseph to be Jesus father.  Joseph would be the man that Almighty God would trust with raising Jesus.  Joseph watched over Jesus and protected him and gave him a home to grow up in.  Joseph provided one of the greatest services in history.  This man is the servant of God, literally.

All of this might not get our attention as important, in our culture that bashes fatherhood.

When the Bible introduces us to Joseph, it shows us the kind of man, the kind of husband, and the kind of father that we men want to be.  These traits apply to ladies as well.

True righteousness covers the faults of others.  True righteousness is honorable, humane, and benevolent.  The truly righteous person is merciful.  They see sin and weep over it.  They want to connect sinners with God\’s forgiveness.  They want to see redemption.  Sin is not ok with them, but they know it\’s destructiveness and want to lead people out from and away from it, through God\’s forgiveness.

The truly righteous one sees themself as a sinner saved by God or a beggar leading other beggars to the bread of life.  The truly righteous one is not self-righteous, but humble.  Humble means that your God is big and you are small, but you know that God is your all in all.

Joseph shows us that the righteous person is concerned with doing right before God in justice, with humility before God and man; while living out the kindness of God\’s character in mercifulness and benevolence.
_________________________
Footnote
1. Hagner, Matthew 1-13, p. 18

Father The Giver

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

-James 1:17

“Fatherhood must be the core of the universe”, wrote C.S. Lewis, about what George MacDonald learned about God from his father.  Lewis goes on to say, about MacDonald, that, “he never, as boy or man, asked him for anything without getting what he asked. Doubtless this tells us as much about the son’s character as the father’s…” MacDonald wrote, “He who seeks the Father more than anything He can give, is likely to have what he asks, for he is not likely to ask amiss.” Lewis goes on, “The theological maxim is rooted in the experiences of the author’s childhood.” (George MacDonald. An Anthology (edited by C.S.Lewis))

Father is a giver.  God loves to give us gifts.

Even in the negative things that happen to us, we can see that God is doing something good.

We have to close off our hearts not to see the gifts of God in our lives.  We have to deceive ourselves.

How much deception is brought upon ourselves through our refusal to thank God?  There is so much to thank God for and yet we get tricked into discontent and then begin to impunge God’s character.

We can be disappointed with life and with God, without corrupting God’s character and becoming deceived.

God is good and God gives good gifts.

God is the giver.  We become givers as we learn from God.  God is generous and we become generous as we learn from God.

The world’s focus is on getting and even taking.  But God teaches us to live as givers, living in generosity.  When you give, you are like God.

God is completely content.  And generous giving makes you content.  Instead of your stuff or money having a hold on you, you end up getting closer to God, when you give it away.

God is clear about his love for you.  We become deceived and have to guard against it.  God says, “I have always loved you.”

God does not waver or pull back.  God is not ‘shifty’.  God is always clear and true, no matter what, through everything.

More words from George MacDonald:

For the real good of every gift is essential first, that the giver be in the gift-as God always is, for He is love-and next, that the receiver know and receive the giver in the gift.  Every gift of God is but a harbinger of His greatest and only sufficing gift-that of Himself.  No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best: therefore many things that God would gladly give us, things even that we need because we are, must wait until we ask for them, that we may know whence they come: when in all gifts we find Him, then in Him we shall find all things.  


We must ask that we may receive: but that we should receive what we ask in respect of our lower needs, is not God’s end in making us pray, for He could give us everything without that: to bring His child to his knee, God withholds that man may ask.


-“The Word of Jesus on Prayer”


Perhaps, indeed, the better the gift we pray for, the more time is necessary for its arrival.  To give us the spiritual gift we desire, God may have to begin far back in our spirit, in regions unknown to us, and do much work that we can be aware of only in the results; for our consciousness is to the extent of our being but as the flame of the volcano to the world-gulf whence it issues; in the gulf of our unknown being God works behind our consciousness.  With His holy influence, with His own presence (the one thing for which most earnestly we cry) He may be approaching our consciousness from behind, coming forward through regions of our darkness into our light, long before we begin to be aware that He is answering our request-has answered it, and is visiting His child. 


Even such as ask amiss may sometimes have their prayers answered. The Father will never give the child a stone that asks for bread; but I am not sure that He will never give the child a stone that asks for a stone. If the Father says, “My child, that is a stone; it is no bread,” and the child answer, “I am sure it is bread; I want it,” may it not be well that he should try his “bread”?

-“Man’s Difficulty Concerning Prayer”


The heart of man cannot hoard. His brain or his hand may gather into its box and hoard, but the moment the thing has passed into the box, the heart has lost it and is hungry again. If a man would have, it is the Giver he must have; . .. Therefore all that He makes must be free to come and go through the heart of His child; he can enjoy it only as it passes, can enjoy only its life, its soul, its vision, its meaning, not itself. 


-“The Seaboard Parish”, ch. 32

“O God!” I cried and that was all. But what are the prayers of the whole universe more than expansion of that one cry? It is not what God can give us, but God that we want.


-“Wilfred Cumbermede”, Chapter 59 
My prayers, my God, flow from what I am not;
I think thy answers make me what I am.
Like weary waves thought follows upon thought,
But the still depth beneath is all thine own,
And there thou mov’st in paths to us unknown.
Out of strange strife thy peace is strangely wrought;
If the lion in us pray-thou answerest the lamb.
-“Diary of an Old Soul”, May 26 

_______________________________________________
George MacDonald, An Anthology;  free, on-line version

Sky Links , 6-9-18

Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

Son, how can I help you see?
May I give you my shoulders to stand on?
Now you see farther than me.
Now you see for both of us.
Won’t you tell me what you see?
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Being Dad: Father as a Picture of God’s Grace

-Scott Keith

Questions to ponder:

1. What is the state of fatherhood in America?

2. Is fatherhood any different in the church or for Christians?


3. What does it mean that fatherhood is at the core of the universe?

4. How does the story of the Prodigal Son relate?

5. What does it mean to be a masculine man?

6. Sometimes kids like to “play” their parents against each other. Shouldn’t fathers and mothers always back one another’s “play” and support one another?

7. Dad as being a “mouthpiece of grace.” What does that mean?

8. So then, are fathers supposed to be permissive?

9. So what is this Being Dad stuff supposed to look like in everyday life?



Points from Keith:


1. A Dad is the Model of Grace in the Home

We need to know that God calls dads into the lives of their children so that through them children may experience God’s grace in a very personal way. The fathers vocation in the home is to point his children to the graciousness we have received because of Christ. A father is called to be a little Christ to his first neighbors: his family. Fathers teach grace and forgiveness to the family by being the voice of God’s grace in the home.

2. A Dad is Not a Mom!

If you are a father, you are not a mother with bigger muscles and a deeper voice. Sure, Mom will need your help to discipline your children. But the temptation is to mistakenly believe that Dad’s full-time calling is being the heavy hand in the family. Dad is not the bicep! The father is the head of the family, and thus as Christ is the head of the church, he is grace, forgiveness, and graciousness to his family. That is what God has called dads to be.


3. On Compliance and Good Behavior

Most dads want compliant children. I pray that I have throttled that sinful desire enough to have raised gracious and kind children instead who know that they are forgiven because of Christ. Compliance is of the Law. The Law always condemns. Therefore, compliance equals condemnation. It is our sin that leads us to believe that adding more law, more demand for compliance is the answer to every, or any, problem. How can a father be about grace and forgiveness if he is rather about compliance, which equals condemnation? He can’t.

If we as dads want our children to be good, or gracious, or kind, first we need to try to preach, teach, and model to them the gospel of Christ, which is God’s grace and forgiveness.


4. Fathers Need to be Masculine

Masculinity, in turn, does not need to be a bad thing, but rather like what a man was created to be: a man!

Sometimes men are coarse and gruff, and rough around the edges, and callous, and offensive, and brave, and daring, and careless, and quietly kind. A man will often say that he loves you as much with his gestures as with his words. A man, a dad, will encourage you to be adventurous while mom is telling you to be careful, and that is okay. Masculinity is about teaching the qualities of a man through being honorable, trustworthy, brave, and strong while being kind and forgiving all at the same time.

5. Lastly, Dads Need Forgiveness as Much as They Give It.

Being the model of God’s grace in the home is not an easy position to take. I have lost my temper and been the heavy more than I have been this idealized model of grace. Too often I have praised the use of the Law in my house over and against the need for the Gospel. I am sorry for this and ask forgiveness from my entire family.

I need forgiveness because I am a dad. Having found perfect forgiveness in Christ, I am now set free from the Law that binds me. I am free to be forgiveness to those God has placed in my care. I am a dad!






-Arthur Burk

I am at a seminar. Fred comes up having freshly kissed the Blarney Stone, and after all of the blather about how great I am, asks me to father him.

He is followed by Sally who gives me an equally detailed story line, this time of how fatherless her childhood was. Based on her pain, she asks me to father her.

I decline both.

I do that even though I am very clear and very confident that by design, at my core, I am a father. It is who I am, what I was made for, where the grace from God is and where I find deep fulfillment.

So why won’t I father people who so overtly ask me to father them, and so clearly need it?

The problem is in the social contract that is embedded in their understanding of fathering, vs. mine.

You see, there is an issue of rights and responsibilities.

In the Biblical model of fathering, the father has most of the rights, and the children have most of the responsibilities at the beginning of the relationship.

For example, can you find a picture in Scripture of the child choosing his father? Doesn’t the spiritual father usually initiate reaching out to select the child?

Think of all the mentoring relationships in Scripture that were inherently fathering.

Masses of people followed Jesus, but He picked the men He was going to father.

Paul picked his sons.

Admittedly, God picked a son for Elijah, but for sure, Elisha did not pick his own mentor.

Then look at the terms of the relationship.

It is always a responsibility-based relationship at first. Jesus laid it on thick. “Come follow me.” No discussion of boundaries. No full disclosure statement. No promise of deliverance and inner healing. No discussion of the stress it would put on them to be on a different track than their family….



Roger Olson, from, What is Identity Politics and Why Does it Matter, comment thread:

“I’m always reminded of the documentary I saw about elephants. Young male elephants were running wild destroying villages. The authorities dropped a few adult male elephants among them and they immediately settled down. Oh, well. I don’t expect everyone to agree; in fact I know they won’t. But I wish more would simply open their minds to the possibility that boys could benefit from having good male role models—including teachers—in their lives.”




-Alan Jacobs:

It seems to me that far, far too many disputes among Christians — especially (God help us) on social media — resemble the approach American fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals took to Barth. What seem to be questions are usually veiled accusations (though often enough the accusations are explicit); the questioners have not worked to discover what the person they suspect really thinks; they (therefore) neglect actual quotation in favor of tendentious and inaccurate summaries in the form of what I call “in-other-wordsing”; and they show no signs of “seeking the truth that is greater than us all,” but rather seem merely to want to declare other people wrong in the name of doctrinal boundary-policing. There is no way to have a conversation under such terms, and no one should even try.


-Kait Dugan

Barth was never short of critics, and some of his most vocal opponents came from the conservative evangelicals within the United States. The details of the relationship between conservative North American evangelicals and Barth are a bit complicated, so I will save you from a long discussion about the matter. But in short, conservative North American evangelicals were concerned with Barth’s views of Scripture and his doctrine of election (read: universalism). On June 1, 1961, Barth wrote the following letter to Dr. Geoffrey W. Bromiley who was the former president of Fuller Theological Seminary. At the time, Bromiley was also the co-editor of Christianity Today and asked Barth if he would write a response to various questions that were put forth by certain men such as Van Til, Clark, etc. To be clear, I don’t think that Barth ever cared that conservative evangelicals like these men disagreed with him. Afterall, Barth did hold rather revolutionary views of the doctrines of Scripture and election. Admittedly, the letter has a very frustrated tone. But in the end, agreement was never the main goal; I think Barth was more concerned about the posture and the lack of charity that he witnessed from them since most know that Barth was never shy of criticizing the work of other theologians! In the end, Barth simply wanted these men to agree, not merely in words, that the truth always transcends us all. Theology is never simply a regurgitation of and allegiance to orthodox belief, but an ever-unfolding task for the community of believers in Jesus Christ:


[The letter. (Bold type emphasis by Alan Jacobs)]

Dear Dr. Bromiley,

Please excuse me and please try to understand that I cannot and will not answer the questions these people put.

To do so in the time requested would in any case be impossible for me. The claims of work in my last semester as an academic teacher (preparation of lectures and seminars, doctoral dissertations, etc.) are too great. But even if I had the time and strength I would not enter into a discussion of the questions proposed.

Such a discussion would have to rest on the primary presupposition that those who ask the questions have read, learned, and pondered the many things I have already said and written about these matters. They have obviously not done this, but have ignored the many hundreds of pages in the Church Dogmatics where they might at least have found out—not necessarily under the headings of history, universalism, etc. —where I really stand and do not stand. From that point they could have gone on to pose further questions.

I sincerely respect the seriousness with which a man like [G.C.] Berkouwer studies me and then makes his criticisms. I can then answer him in detail. But I cannot respect the questions of these people from Christianity Today, for they do not focus on the reasons for my statements but on certain foolishly drawn deductions from them. Their questions are thus superficial.

The decisive point, however, is this. The second presupposition of a fruitful discussion between them and me would have to be that we are able to talk on a common plane. But these people have already had their so-called orthodoxy for a long time. They are closed to anything else, they will cling to it at all costs, and they can adopt toward me only the role of prosecuting attorneys, trying to establish whether what I represent agrees or disagrees with their orthodoxy, in which I for my part have no interest! None of their questions leaves me with the impression that they want to seek with me the truth that is greater than us all. They take the stance of those who happily possess it already and who hope to enhance their happiness by succeeding in proving to themselves and the world that I do not share this happiness. Indeed they have long since decided and publicly proclaimed that I am a heretic, possibly (van Til) the worst heretic of all time. So be it! But they should not expect me to take the trouble to give them the satisfaction of offering explanations which they will simply use to confirm the judgment they have already passed on me.

Dear Dr. Bromiley, you will no doubt remember what I said in the preface to Church Dogmatics IV/2 in the words of an eighteenth-century poem on those who eat up men. The continuation of the poem is as follows: “… for there is no true love where one man eats another.” These fundamentalists want to eat me up. They have not yet come to a “better mind and attitude” as I once hoped. I can thus give them neither an angry nor a gentle answer but instead no answer at all.

With friendly greetings,

Yours,

KARL BARTH

P.S. I ask you to convey what I have said in a suitable manner to the people at Christianity Today


Hat tip to Wesley Hill

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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1-800-273-8255

Differences Do Not Make Us Enemies
-Wayne Jacobsen

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/eWHQqmcsopM?rel=0&showinfo=0

21 Suggestions for Success
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

  1. Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
  2. Work at something you enjoy and that’s worthy of your time and talent.
  3. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  4. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  5. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
  6. Be generous.
  7. Have a grateful heart.
  8. Persistence, persistence, persistence.
  9. Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
  10. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
  11. Commit yourself to constant improvement.
  12. Commit yourself to quality.
  13. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
  14. Be loyal.
  15. Be honest.
  16. Be a self-starter.
  17. Be decisive even if it means you’ll sometimes be wrong.
  18. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
  19. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.
  20. Take good care of those you love.
  21. Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your Mom proud.
Twelve Quotes by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

  1. If you’re looking for a big opportunity, seek out a big problem.
  2. Be smarter than other people, just don’t tell them so.
  3. Find a job you like and you add five days to every week.
  4. If someone offers you a breath mint, accept it.
  5. Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.
  6. If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure.
  7. Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.
  8. Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.
  9. You can’t hire someone to practice for you.
  10. People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.
  11. If your life is free of failures, you’re not taking enough risks.
  12. When you’re feeling terrific, notify your face.


Searching

Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival.  After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it.  Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey.  Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him.  After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers.  When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.”

“Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand what He said to them.

Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart.

-Luke 2:41-51
I am searching for something right now and it is consuming me.  I have been preoccupied with it.  I have let my search stress me out to the point that I have been too anxious about it.
This story, from Luke chapter two, came to my mind.  In this story, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, after the festival was over; when his mom and dad, family and friends left.  Their group was big enough and Mary and Joseph were trusting enough of Jesus maturity, that when they travelled, they did not need to always have an eye on him.
I can really identify with them, because my son is eleven years old.  He is right at the age where we do not have to keep an eye on him all the time.  But we are still concerned about where he is and with whom.
I know exactly what the panic must have felt like for Mary and Joseph.  They were one day’s journey away from Jerusalem, when they realized they lost him.  Talk about losing something or someone special.
I’m talking about losing your own child.  When I became a parent, the stories of children being abducted struck horror in my heart.  I took it all for granted, before I became the parent of a beautiful little boy.
When Jesus parents realized he was unaccounted for, they first looked among the whole group that was travelling with them.  Maybe he was there somewhere?  But he was not.
So, they made their way back to Jerusalem, and looked all over, perhaps retracing their steps.  Then, they got to the temple complex and there he was, seated with the rabbis.  He was so engaged in the discussion that he hardly noticed mom and dad walk up.
Joseph and Mary perhaps had the chance to hear Jesus words as he dialogued with the teachers and saw the amazement at what he had to say.  Luke does not tell us that they scooped Jesus up or that they said, “Thank God, you are ok!”  Nope.
Instead, we are told that they rebuked him: “Son, why have you treated us like this?”  Mary was calling him to responsibility.  She is speaking to him, like we might speak to our 15, 16 or 17 year old; because maturity and responsibility came at a younger age in first century Jewish culture.
We say that someone becomes an adult at age 18 and the truth is that many young people do not even become adults today until their mid-twenties.  And the markers of adulthood are maturity and responsibility.
In that culture, where Jesus grew up, age twelve was the transition from boyhood to manhood.  He is more mature than our twelve year olds.  He is ready to be a man.
Have you wondered where he spent the night?  Probably at the place where one of those teachers lived or at the temple.  Have you wondered if those teachers would have asked him about his parents or if he should be going home?
Whatever those conversations entailed of if they happened at all, there he was.  
I had scenes in my childhood, when I ventured out of my mom’s sight and she lost me.  My mom was very upset.  I know the phrase, “Where have you been?”, when I was perfectly fine, in my mind, and having an adventure or just enjoying myself with others.
Mary’s rebuke to Jesus, “Why have you treated us like this”, puts the blame for her anxious turmoil onto the boy.  He neither responds with “Sorry, my bad”, nor, “Don’t talk to me like that”.  
Instead, he gently turns the issue back to her and reminds her that God, His Father, is the center of his life; even though he is rightly related to his earthly parents.  Jesus is teaching me how to talk to my mom.
In the same section of scripture, it says that Mary and Joseph were Jesus parents and that he also has The Father as his father.  This is important, because Luke is underscoring that Jesus was human and divine.  He was not delivered, as a baby or a boy, from heaven; but came out of Mary.
They lost him and were searching, searching, searching for him.  But all along, there he was, at the temple, consumed with his Father’s things.  These are the first words we have of Jesus: “Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?”
This is our English language rendering, and in the HCSB that I am using here.  The oldest translation that we are commonly familiar with, the King James, says, “Knew ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?”  But what it literally says is something like, “did ye not know that in the things of my Father it behoveth me to be?’
That is how we get the idea that Jesus was saying something like, “Didn’t you know that I am all about being consumed by the things of my Father?”  Jesus did not say the word “house”.  House is in our translations  there because the translators would say that it is implied.
Jesus is saying that they should have known that he would be at the temple, the figurative ‘house of God’, involved in the discourse with people about the things of God.
The motif of this story, for me is ‘searching’.  We could say that the human perspective was of the parents and their tribe, searching for the lost boy.  Searching equals seeking.  They were seeking the boy while the boy was seeking or involved with the work of  seeking God.
They were seeking Jesus, all the while Jesus was involved with the pursuit of the things of the Father.  Jesus did not take a detour to an alone place to seek or be with the Father.  Jesus went to or stopped and stayed at the place where people gathered to discuss God things.
This is where we get the phrase, “I had to be about my Father’s business”.  What is the Father’s business?  It is God’s whole enterprise of loving and saving the people in the world he created.
Today, I am seeking something or a number of somethings.  And at the same time, Jesus is seeking or all about, as in ‘consumed’ with something.  I believe Jesus cares about what I am searching for, but mainly to the extent that he cares about me.
He loves me and he is consumed with the Father’s business.  I am searching for something, while he is involved with doing what he sees the Father doing.
What I am searching for is not bad.  Some people in the world must search for their daily food each day.  Jesus is not too busy discussing theology with the teachers to care about his people.
He does care and he does understand.  But where we get in trouble is when we stress out in our searching for whatever and I am assuming here that we are searching for something wholesome.  Something we do not want to do is to  stress out and then say to Jesus, “Why did you do this to me?”
My grandmother never touched alcohol and never went to a 12-step group, but she had the serenity prayer on a plaque, above the kitchen sink.  I grew up, looking at that prayer, and thinking about it.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change; courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
People who blame God and do not accept responsibility and and do not take the initiative are not developing spiritually, and are half-baked and stunted in becoming men and women, and staying childish.
Another remarkable thing about this story is that it says that Jesus went with them, back to Nazareth, in obedience.  Let that sink in.  He just showed them that he was ready and they did not get it.
Instead of forcing himself on them, he submitted himself to them.  This should blow our minds and massively teach us something about submission.  God was ready, but they were not ready to let go.
This is how it is so often with us in our lives.  We think we are waiting on God.  “Why is he taking so long!”, we say.  And all along, God is waiting for us.
Jesus and history had to wait 18 years.  When he left home at age 30, his family still did not get it.  They had lived with him and did not get him.
This is very sad in a sense, but should also encourage you, if your family does not get you.
It is really nice when people get you, understand you, to the best of their human abilities.  But the default position or the case that is most common, is that they won’t get you.  And then there is the whole range of the ones you love actually opposing you.
When we fast forward to when Jesus is 30 and begins his public ministry, in one of his first times of teaching, they love it, but then say, “Wait a minute, isn’t this Joseph’s son?”  Somehow, many people can’t wrap their heads around ordinary people becoming extraordinary because of God in their lives.  Instead, they want to see extraordinary people as gods.
The whole ethos of Christianity is that God in Christ comes into you and makes you a person in-Christ, that Christ works through and points to God.
What does this story from when Jesus was 12 have in it for me and what might it have for you?  I am searching.  I am always searching for something to one extent or another.
Sometimes my searching overwhelms me and I get stressed out.  I am tired and I need rest.  That is first.
Then there is the issue where I realize that I am missing God.  I have been praying about my search to God, but maybe not enough because my search has taken me away from God’s presence.  Maybe I need to search a bit less or pray more or perhaps wait on God more?
What about time out for recreation?  But if my search is desperate, like for food or water or a place to stay when all the places say ‘no vacancy’, I probably do need to pray more and practice God’s presence. 
It is all grace right?  Not my works that make life happen.  But faith is only real if it is tested and tried.
The circumstances of life test and try our faith to make it genuine.  Faith involves risk and when we risk we do often fail.  But God loves riskers who fail.
It is worse to do nothing than to do something that fails.
I am searching.  Will Jesus follow me in my search and make it work out? I am supposed to be following him.  But I can ask him to grant me success in my search.  I can pray as I consider things and choose things.
I would rather be with him wherever he is.  When I am searching and he is not with me, that is not his fault.  I left him behind and he never left me.
Rather than doing a comprehensive search and then getting overwhelmed and saying “Where are you in all this?”, I want to be with him and then put my head on his chest and ask him about it.

God Cares, Watches and Provides

Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent.

-Matthew 10:29

My pet cat died the other night.  I found his body, where he laid, on my neighbor’s backyard lawn.  The fact that I found him and that he passed away safely on a soft patch of grass, was comforting.

I was reminded of these verses that say to us that God cares, watches and provides, with timely preparation for future eventualities.  God is our provision.  God envisions and provides.

I am strangely encouraged, to a smaller extent than I was just a month ago, when my step-father passed away.  The encouragement or comfort comes from knowing that God cares and sees and is compassionate.  God is not indifferent, but is a caring Father.

Jesus tells us that our Father sees when each small animal dies, so how much more do you think he sees us and cares about us?  And the context of Jesus words here are being killed from persecution as the result of betrayal by one’s own family.  In these hardest of circumstances, Jesus says to not be afraid, because your Father is watching and has made provision for whatever befalls you.

There is a song, inspired by this verse, called, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”, written by Civilla Martin.  Civilla and her husband met a couple, who were both crippled, named Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle, who had remarkable joy and contentment, despite their physical challenges.  The Doolittle’s were light bearers of inspiration, comfort and hopefulness to everyone they came into contact with.  Civilla’s husband asked Mr. Doolittle what their secret was, and Mr. Doolittle remarked, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me!”  That statement gripped Civilla Martin’s imagination and she wrote the song.

His Eye In On The Sparrow
By Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


His Eye Is On the Sparrow, Wikipedia

Headship: God, Christ, The Husband, and The Wife

But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.

-1 Corinthians 11:3
What is the foundation of a Christian marriage?  Who is the key to a happy, joyful, abundant husband and wife relationship?  And what is the Christ-following husband’s role in regards to his wife?

These are questions that cross the minds of Christians who are married, thinking about being married, or have been married in the past and are looking back or looking forward.  In society, getting married is much easier to do, even though some single people who are searching or waiting might not agree with this; it is easier to do than getting a drivers licence or all sorts of other things we commonly do.

Being married and staying married are much, much harder.  Two people living in a space together, even with rings and the paperwork, does not a marriage make.

Christian marriage is a covenant between two people, both who are in Christ, that is held together by God.  The legal marriage certificate is a contract that in enforced by laws that will come into play if one of the spouses ends the marriage through divorce.

The covenant only works when we work with it.  God holds our marriage together, as we hold onto God.  It is all about our relationships to God and to one another.

We are all in a covenant, the New Covenant, in Christ, with God.  There are always two sides or two parties in a covenant.  Even though God does all the saving in our covenant with him, we must participate or be engaged in it to actualize the covenant in our lives.

We can’t say, “I’m saved”, and then go back to our lives, running our show.  Being saved means we have begun a journey with God, where we give up everything we have and God gives us everything we need.  That may not be the gospel message that you have heard or believed in, but this is the gospel of the kingdom.

When we say we are in the covenant of salvation or the covenant of marriage, the next step and life style is to live in the covenant relationship.  We don’t leave Christ or our spouse at the altar, so to speak, where we said “I do” and then go off on our own, saying, “see ya when I need ya!”.  But that is how some people live towards Christ and towards their spouse.

Before we look at this issue of head and headship, we need to make sure we are saved and look at our salvation.  If a man or a woman is not in a vital union with the living Christ, where they are dying to their selves and living to Christ, marriage will not work.

Many people are legally married, but not living in marriage.  The Bible gives clear instructions on how to live in marriage as Christians.  If you are not first living as a Christian, then you will not be able to or will have troubles participating in marriage, God’s way.

What Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 11, is, “this is the way it is and the way it is supposed to be”.  If you read the whole letter, you will see that the Corinthians had problems and Paul is addressing the problems and their questions.  Some of them were not doing great in their being in Christ.

Before Paul addresses the issues that were coming up regarding hair and head coverings, he says the statement that I am highlighting, as a foundation or backdrop to a discussion on hair and head coverings.  Paul could have said: “Thanks for remembering a lot of the stuff I taught you about being Christians.  Now, before I get into this issue of hair and covering or not covering one’s head, I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ.”

In case you did not realize it, and the Bible translation, HCSB, that I quoted has a footnote to flag this: scholars say that Paul meant husband and wife, when he wrote man and woman, here.  The ESV, for example, does this without a footnote:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Before Paul gets into the hair and veil customs, he grounds things in Christ; and that is how we get this verse and that is the context, which we will go through broadly, in a moment.  The back story to Paul’s admonitions on head coverings, may have been questions or problems with this issue at Corinth.  And Paul brings them and all his readers from then till now, back to our relationship to God and each other.

Before we get into head and headship and the wife being under her husband’s head, we have to say this:  A married Christian woman is a person who is herself in Christ, under Christ, and living her life from Christ; while also being and living under her husband’s headship.  A married Christian man is a person in, under, and from Christ; while also the head of his wife.

There has been an ongoing discussion, a theological debate, about what “head” here means.  Over on one side, some scholars have said that head here means ‘source’ or ‘origin’; while the other side says that head means ‘chief’ or ‘ruler’.  Head (kelphale’) also means the ‘end-point’ of something: the top of a column or the end of a pole.  The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is also called the head of the year. 

Also, head (kelphale’) means controlling agent, but not preeminent.  Our physical heads, having our brain within, rules and has authority over our bodies: our head is the controlling agent of our bodies.  This has nothing to do with preeminence, but everything to do with function.  The head is the boss, from which control emanates, but is not bossy nor controlling.
A body without a head is dead.  It is normal for a body to be under the rule and control or authority of the head.  When we take headship as a metaphor, we see that Christians can and do live without being under Christ’s headship.

In Christ, there is life and outside of Christ there is not life.  If a Christian is not living in Christ, functionally, then they are not living in his life.  Imagine a person who is legally married, but does not live in a marriage.

Living as a room mate, living self centered, not sacrificing, not sharing everything you have, and not laying down your life for your wife; are examples of the husband who is not living under the headship of Christ.

Christ is head of the church, head over all things, the head corner stone, and head of man; and God is the head of Christ and husbands are heads of their wives.  The church can ignore, set aside, or give lip service to Christ being it’s head.  And wives can also not believe in or live under the headship of their husband; and both of these can be happening today, to our detriment.

After studying, reading, listening, looking things up, and reading some more; my conclusion is that ‘head’ (kephale) here in Paul, means ‘authority’, and not ‘preeminent’, ‘source’, or ‘origin’.  There are links to articles, in the bibliography at the bottom, for your further study, if desired.

There have been Christians who are confused about Christ and God, saying things like, “the man upstairs”, or “God is my co-pilot”.  The truth is that God and Christ is king and we need to bow and surrender our lives.  But God is also good, love, and full of mercy and grace.

Christians are the bride of Christ and the children of Father.  God and Christ are not this incredible religion or philosophy that we adhere to.  Being a believer means we give up everything and God gives us a different everything.

It means death and resurrection.  It means leaving our mother and father and getting married to Christ.  It means that we are no longer orphans, but get adopted and become God’s children.

If you do not have these basics, these staring points down; if you are not in and on the pathway of Christ; then having Christ as chief, head, authority, and boss of your life might be a strange and off-putting topic for you.  And it would follow, that if you are a wife, to have your husband over you in any chief, boss, or leader role would possibly be foreign, unwanted, incorrect, and rejected as archaic and bluntly crass.

God and Christ is and are our source, and that is a Pauline idea (Acts 17:28, Rom. 11:36).  But that is not what 1 Cor. 11:3 is saying.  It is also not saying that one is superior and one is inferior.  Paul is not saying the husband is the inferior to Christ and the wife is the inferior to the husband and Christ is inferior to God.

The text is neither saying that the husband is inferior to Christ nor is Christ inferior to God, and not that wives are inferior to husbands.  But it is saying that there is a hierarchy.  Some of us don’t like that word.

God’s headship of Christ gives us an example to follow.  Jesus lives under his father’s authority.  He did all the good things and said all the good things, under his father’s headship.

The husband lives out his life under Christ’s headship and his wife lives out her life under her husband’s headship.  The wife has her own walk under Christ, while also walking under the headship of her husband.  Christ is the wife’s savior and Lord, but she functions under the authority of her husband.

The husband has Christ as his model for leadership.  Christ’s leadership is sacrificially loving.  The husband is called to sacrificially love his wife, who he is head over.

Men and women are equal before God.  Husbands and wives are equal in value before God.  But husbands and wives have different roles in marriage.

Different positions in the hierarchy does not mean superior/inferior.  That is a worldly perspective and not part of Christ’s way.  Jesus and the Father are one.  Jesus Christ is Lord, and not just a man who was a carpenter and a traveling teacher/prophet/healer, who had and still has followers.

“God is the head of Christ”, means God the Father has a role of authority over Christ.  It is a function and role issue.  While the husband is not God, Christ is also the head of him; and again it is a role and function.

Remember how in the great commission, Jesus says, “all authority has been given to me”?  Father gives authority to Christ and Christ gives authority to us.  The one is functionally over the other and gives authority to the other.  Jesus has a oneness with Father, but is also under his headship.

In marriage, the two become one; but the wife is under her husband’s headship.

This is an aside, but if Christ calls a woman, a married lady, to be a pastor; her husband is obviously still her head.  If she is married, a blurb on their church’s website might read, “Sue Jones is the pastor (or lead minister) of Tall Mountain Jesus Is Lord Fellowship, and her husband Larry Jones is the boss of her”.  For anyone worried that she is not under her husband’s headship, that settles it.

To every pastor, preacher, or standing up in front of people in a leadership role person; I would simply ask, “has Christ called you?”  If Christ calls a woman and if Christ gives a woman the desire to serve and teach and speak and minister, and gives her his authority to stand in leadership; who are we to argue with him?

If elders are men and the elders are the pastors, then it makes it difficult to be a woman pastor.  But if Christ not only gifts a woman with gifts and then calls her to serve as a leader, and there is much discernible fruit from her ministry, then we call her a pastor, agreeing that Christ has made her one and his.  He has ordained her and we bless his work in her life.

Also, it would be ideal for a woman pastor to have a qualified elder husband.  His being qualified as an elder actually is an endorsement or qualifier of her standing up and speaking and thereby leading other people.

However, most people don’t make it to the ideal, and being divorced or never married should not disqualify anyone who Jesus desires to use, and he does.

Is Christ the head of all Christians, male and female, husbands and wives, young and old?  Yes, of course.  This passage or section does not need to say that because Paul is talking about roles and functions.

Husbands and wives have equal value and standing before God, in Christ.  But they have different roles, and that is what this verse is saying.  Imagine a narrow path, where only one person can fit at a time and one goes first and the other follows.  That is a picture of roles, not about one person being valued more.

Think about a car, where there is one steering wheel in front of one seat that the driver sits in.  The one who drives and manages the wheel, is not superior, but only in the role, function, and service of driving.  Drivers who drive recklessly, speed, blare the radio, where headphones, text while driving, have their eyes off the road, tailgate, cut off other drivers, or drive the wrong way may be called bad drivers and get in trouble or hurt themselves or others, but being in the role, function, or service is not a bad thing.

And that is the way it is with bad husbands.  Their God given role of being head is not the problem, but what they are doing in their role is the problem that needs correction.  Egalitarianism might be saying that the role thing is the problem, so we need to get rid of that and be equal in the roles.

But the complimentary roles and functions, unique to each sex, are given by God; and are not the problem.  The problem are people who do bad things, act in bad ways, and are ungodly.  Egalitarianism seeks to set us free from ‘archaic’ roles, ‘patrimony’ and ‘misogyny’.

The Bible and the roles for husbands and wives are not wrong and don’t need a re-write.  We need to separate the people who have done wrong, lived sinfully, even while saying they are walking with God, from the God we serve, who has created man and woman, with equal value, but different roles as husband and wife, that compliment each other.

The only way to have a Christian marriage is in and through Christ.  We know that Christ is under the headship of God, but the husband must also be intimately aware of his being under Christ’s headship, for his wife to take her place under his headship.  It is about function and relationship.

But before the husband begins to exercise his authority, as head of his wife,there is something to check.  Is he under or functioning under the headship of Christ?  If he is not, then he needs to come under Christ and let Christ be his authority.

This is the subject I wanted to talk about.  Everything I have said up to this point is an introduction to what I am about to say.  There is a problem today, with Christian marriages failing or being dysfunctional, because the husband is not living under the headship of Christ.

I could and am tempted to give you a list of bad things that Christian husbands do.  I could also give you a list of problems that Christian wives have that are to an extent, the result or fruit of their husband not being under Christ’s headship.  Obviously, Christian wives may sin themselves in ways that are not the fruit of their husbands lack of relationship with Christ, but that is not what I am talking about.

This word, that I am focusing on, that says that, “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ”, is found in the context of Paul’s words about hair and the covering of a person’s head.  It may be stating the obvious, but we know that Christ and his headship is for all time and universal; but the issues of hair length, and the covering of one’s head, in Corinthian, Grecian society are particular.  

The challenge for us with passages like this, is to find out how the passage applies to us today.  And we can broadly place many things in the Bible into two categories: custom and command.  The statement, that Christ is the head of the husband is a command, for all Christians: to obey.
But, the words that follow in 1 Corinthians 11, about hair length and veil wearing are in the custom category.  Paul is referring to the customs of their culture and  reflecting on how to be loving, in Christ, in the midst of their particular cultural customs.
The husband being the head of the wife is also in the command column.  If you place that piece into the custom column, then you must also place Christ and his headship over man  in the custom column as well.  And some people do that, who say that the whole Bible is just customs.
At the other side of the spectrum, some might say that this whole passage is of the command type, and we must strongly transpose Paul’s words then to our lives now.  And what this point of view would say, is that, “women must wear head coverings, for the Bible commands it”.
What is funny, in an ironic way, is that if you were to grow up, or be raised up and discipled in a church culture today, where you were taught, “women must wear head coverings, for the Bible commands it”, you would hear, and we could say, be indoctrinated, by an argument, that would lead you to believe that veils or head coverings are required by scripture, and the rest of Christianity and secular society that does not practice head coverings, is wrong.  Does that sound like any groups of people today?
This is why critical thinking and cross-pollination is so important and beneficial for Christian strength of learning.  Indoctrination and sectarianism are religion.  Christianity is centered in Christ.
Today, many Christians are centered on their beliefs, doctrine, and customs; rather than Christ.  They say they are centered on Christ.  But if they were centered on him, they would love what he loves, both the lost and all of his different flocks.
Now, here is the context of the first half of 1 Corinthians 11:

Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.

Now I praise you because you always remember me and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since that is one and the same as having her head shaved. So if a woman’s head is not covered, her hair should be cut off. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should be covered.

A man, in fact, should not cover his head, because he is God’s image and glory, but woman is man’s glory. For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man. And man was not created for woman, but woman for man. This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, and all things come from God.

Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her as a covering. But if anyone wants to argue about this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God.

-1 Corinthians 11:1-16
If you use this passage to say that women should wear head coverings, I might say that is ok, but please do not try to force it on others.  It is interesting to note that in Paul’s day and today, in Judaism, in their worship; the men where the skull cap and women let their hair flow down and about.  How did Paul get from that to the other?

The answer is tradition or custom or culture.  If you look around the world, you will see different styles of dress.  In various cultures, women cover up their heads and even their faces.

Corinth and Greece at the time had a culture that the Corinthians lived in.  They had to live and witness for Christ within that culture.

This hair and head covering part is a cultural discussion that we can transpose and glean some wisdom from for today, which is what many even handed preachers try to do, when they speak on this passage.  But that is not the point of my message.

My message is this:  Christ is the center and Christ is the head of man and head of the husband.  The husband is head of his wife, but that will not work out very well, unless that husband is under the headship of Christ.  Any Christian husband who is not under the headship of Christ, needs to start living in and from that place, and any wife who in not under her husband’s headship needs to start living from, in, and through that place.

If we refuse this calling, we are living a double life that is exhausting and not in the peace of Christ.  We will do the religious things to feel good and then be selfish and lash out at others and even make disciples in this wrong way.  Please don’t do it.  Please come home to Christ.

___________________________________
Bibliography:

Brauch, Manfred T.; The Head of Woman is Man?, The Hard Sayings of Paul, The Hard Sayings of The Bible, pp. 559-602, (1989)

Bruce, F. F.; The New Century Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Corinthians; pp. 103-4, (1971)

Grudem, Wayne; Does Kefalh (“Head”) Mean “Source” Or“Authority Over” in Greek Literature?A Survey of 2,336 Examples (1985)

The meaning of κεφαλή (“head”):An evaluation of new evidence, real and alleged, (2002)

Kroger, Catherine; Head, The Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, Hawthorne & Martin eds.; pp. 375-7, (1993)

Nathan, Rich; Why Vineyard Columbus Encourages Women To Preach, Pastor & Church Plant, (2014)


Loves Me Live A Rock

My mama loves me
She loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
And she loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me

-Paul Simon

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord is a rock for all ages.

-Isaiah 26:4 (CEB)

So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.

-Luke 15:20
 

Love is pretty much the antidote or answer to everything.  That makes sense when you consider that God is love.  The whole message is that God loves us, which is why Jesus Christ came.

God’s love.  Father’s love.  And we love because God loves.
Loving our children teaches them about God’s love.  My mom has told me hundreds of times, “Remember your mommy loves you”.  Sounds silly, but it is a blessing.

Raising children?  “Train up a child in the way he should go”, is what the Bible says, so that is what we do.  Training means ‘dedicate’ or ‘consecrate’ and in the way he should go means ‘according to their individual temperament, disposition, talents, or destiny’.  We help our children discover their design and who God has destined them to be.

Love is the foundation of parenting.  The parent walks in the love of God and loves their children with that love.  Loving others comes from receiving Gods love and living loved, and we train our children in loving God and knowing the Father’s affection.

We do good after we have received the love and we train our children in the love of God and they learn right from wrong in the atmosphere of love.  Consecration or dedication of children or infants is not just an event, but a process that may or may not have an event occur within it.  We need to walk in God’s love daily, and we need to train our children in God’s love every day.

The love of God is the essential ingredient in everything God does.  The reason Jesus came was love.  The whole Old Testament rules, guidelines, or law is founded on loving God, and fleshed out in loving God and then loving people.  And Jesus’ command, to the person who would follow him and let him live that life of loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength; through them, is to simply love others.

We stand on Christ, the solid rock.  The essence of Christ is his love for his dad.  In Christ, we are all about loving Father.

This is what The Rock of Ages is.  Christians are people ‘in Christ’.  To be ‘in Christ’ is to be cleansed and forgiven of sin and to be living out of his love.

Many of us were not raised or trained up this way by loving parents.  Many of us were raised by godly Christian parents, but we missed out on this foundation of love.  What then?

A few thoughts.  Your history is not your destiny.  Life in Christ is a new history, filled with new beginnings, and a pioneer-spirit life of going out and going in.

We are to honor and love our parents, even as we live in Christ differently than they do or did.  Same Christ, if they are Christians, but Christ calls you to follow him.  And our love for Christ is so great, that we ‘hate’ our parents in comparison.

You may not have had a very loving mamma, but God will compensate you.  You do not live ‘ripped off’ or ‘one-down’ for life, as a child unloved.  No.  Father loves you and adopts you into a relationship that your earthly mamma and papa may have not at all reflected.

Father loves you and me the way that he designed our mothers to love us.  Father created mothers and he will love you in all the ways that your earthly mother did not.  God is waiting and willing to love us, but we have to come into his embrace.

I love the story of the father with two sons in Luke 15.  When the prodigal (“wasteful and extravagant”) son returns home, the father runs to meet him and embraces him.  Jesus is sharing that this is how God is.

This son was reckless and very disrespectful and unloving towards his dad.  But his dad still loved him anyway.  The dad was on the lookout and saw the young man returning and ran down the path to meet him, which was very untoward, culturally; which means that he did not care how it looked, but his running was about his compassionate love for his lost son.

The other side of that story is the ‘good son’ who stayed with his dad, but was not enjoying his father’s affection, but had the mistaken idea that he was in good standing through his own merit.  When the story ends, there is a huge celebration for the return of the lost son, while the other son is seething.

Both sons have the opportunity to learn about their father’s unconditional love and unmerited favor and about just being with their dad in his love.  The Father has always been the compassionate loving God.  We are the ones who have either gone astray.

We go astray overtly or covertly.  People who strive in their religion of Christianity and delude themselves that even part of being saved is through their own merit, do so thinking that God is with them and is affirming that lifestyle.  They are living in “The Father’s House” with completely wrong assumptions about how the life works.

The ‘kicker’ is that God seems to not correct or fix them, and lets them keep doing their (wrong) thing, in his name and make disciples who make more disciples.  And they say they are ‘for His glory’, as they live unlovingly and represent God as something other than compassionate and loving.

Why or how can this be?  Free will is a huge value for God.  He lets people blaspheme him and misrepresent him in all sorts of egregious ways without stopping it.

God has spoken and God is speaking and God is alive and well.  Jesus is building his church.  You can recognize it, in it’s infinite number of unique expressions by his character in it, that mirrors his father’s character.  The great war plan against God has been to distort his character and what he is towards humankind.

The whole OT told a story of God’s love and in Jesus, God showed what he is like.  There have been distortions from the beginning about what God said and who God is and what God requires.  But we know that God’s way, God’s character, and what God is to us is about Father’s love.

He loves me: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love me.  And I love them back because they loved me first.  And I join in on their love mission in this world.

That is the love we love our children in, that sets them on the path.  That is the love we live in as Christians.

——————————————————————

Loves Me Like a Rock, by Paul Simon

When I was a little boy
And the Devil would call my name
I’d say “now who do
Who do you think you’re fooling?”
I’m a consecrated boy
Singer in a Sunday choir
My mama loves, she loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
She loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me

When I was grown to be a man
And the Devil would call my name
I’d say “now who do
Who do you think you’re fooling?”
I’m a consummated man
I can snatch a little purity
My mama loves me, she loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
She loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me

If I was President
And the Congress call my name
I’d say “who do
Who do you think you’re fooling?”
I’ve got the Presidential Seal
I’m up on the Presidential Podium
My mama loves me
She loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
And she loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me
She loves me, loves me, loves me, loves me

The Cow Jumped Over The Moon: Glorious Joy

You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

-1 Peter 1:8-9
I have an idea that God wants to give us joy that not limited.  I have a thought that the joy that God has in store for us, in this life, is something that seems impossible; but He is going to give it to us anyway.  I believe that God has unrestricted happiness available, that we get to live in.
I believe that God has unlimited delight for us, that he wants us to have now.  I believe that joy is going to be the story, the fragrance, and the personality of God’s people.  I believe that a door is opening, for people, to walk into the unlimited space of delight.
I believe that God wants to take us into unrestrained happiness.  People who thought they could never be happy will be surprised.  People who thought that the Bible only gave us theory and truth, will find out that the experience of God, that the Bible’s authors describe, is coming to them.
We are about to come into a place in God where we will experience unfettered joy.  We are about to have unimpeded happiness.  The controls that kept us back are about to be lifted.
God is about to do something that, in our minds, we deemed impossible.  God is going to give us untrammelled delight.  We are being set free to enjoy life.
You might be wondering why the title of this post is, “The Cow Jumped Over The Moon: Glorious Joy”?  Here is the answer: 
The phrase, “The cow jumped over the moon”, means “untrammelled delight”, or, “very happy or delighted”.  Some people think it also means, “something impossible”.

Untrammelled
-Not deprived of freedom of action or expression; not restricted or hampered.

I would say, that, “The cow jumped over the moon”, is an expression of unrestricted, unfettered, delight, joy, and happiness experienced.  I have read people saying, “I love you to the moon”, or, “over the moon”, or, “to the moon and back”.  These seem to signify great delight and pleasure in another person.
If we try to analyze the the nursery rhyme, “Hey Diddle Diddle”, and not just say, “it’s nonsense”, then, we can see the absurd pictures that the words paint as meaning something.  

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such fun,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Cows do not jump over anything, much less, the moon.  So, a cow jumping over the moon signifies something beyond our experience, beyond our rationality: something impossible.  And that is how, I suppose, that people get that definition.
But, in literature, there is the saying, “Ready to jump over the moon in delight”, from which we see the idea of extreme delight.  I wonder if many children intuitively know what a cow jumping over the moon means, and then they begin to forget, as they grow out of childhood?
If you can make the connection, what I am saying is that I believe God has in mind, in store, and available now; “The cow jumped over the moon”, experience of joy unspeakable.  Have you ever thought about that verse?  It means joy that can not be put into words, because it is so immense.  Have you experienced that joy?
That joy from God is also glorious, or full of glory.  Imagine I have a white board in front of us.  In a circle, at the center of everything is the glory of God.  God is glorious.
Everything about God is glorious.  The meaning of the word glory carries the idea of honor.  This is why we call the flag, “old glory”.  When beings in heaven say, “Glory!”, it means “honor”.  God is honorable and The Honorable One.
We automatically worship God, when we come into contact with him.  We give God glory.  If God visits you, worshiping, and dropping to your knees or getting on your face, is the natural response.
The idea that the joy from God that he gives us is glorious joy, is that it is a gift from him and that we give back to him.  We thoroughly enjoy what he gives us, but we give it back to him in living lives of worship.  It is glory to glory.
The joy comes from God and we enjoy before him and give it back to him and he gives us more and it goes on and on.  The giving it back does not mean we lose it, but the life lived from God is lived through God.  We are completely free in God.

God Sees Evil Plans

They encourage each other in an evil plan; they talk about hiding traps and say, “Who will see them?”

-Psalm 64:5
Picture: Pixabay
God sees what evil ones are planning.  He sees what they are doing that they think is secret.  God hears their secret discussions about their evil plans.
It is delusional to believe that God does not see and hear what you are planning or scheming.  God is omniscient.  If you think that your evil plans are hidden from God, you are deceived.
Works of evil or evil works are often hidden, but God sees what is planned.  We can ask God to expose the hidden plan of the enemy and put it to naught.  And we can pray, “Lord, show me what the enemy does not want me to see”.
Every Christian needs to have the awareness of the spiritual battle between God and the enemy.  People do evil, partnering with the powers of darkness.  And they plan, discuss, and often do their evil in secret, in hiding.
Be encouraged that God sees the evil plans.  Be encouraged that as a believer, that you have authority in Christ.  Use your authority, take authority, and walk in authority.
Pray for God to expose, overturn, and cut off the plans of the enemy.  Pray for their power to be broken.  Pray in Jesus name.  
Come against them in your prayers.  Put your armor on and be a warrior like you are destined to be.  Pray for the refuge of abiding in Father.
The prayer again that summarizes the message of Psalm 64:
Dear God:
Protect me from the enemy.
Hide and keep me safe from their evil plans.
Shoot them with arrows.
Suddenly wound them.
Make them stumble.
May their own tongues work against them.
Make a spectacle of them for all to see.
So that everyone will fear you.
And talk about what you have done.
And understood that you did it.
We rejoice in you, put our trust in you, and we will continually praise you.

In God, Upon God

My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.

-Psalm 62:7  
Photo: Pixabay

What does your life depend on and what are you famous for?  And what is your beginning and end, your source and your sustenance, that wraps around you and sustains your life?

What is your glory?  What is glorified in your life?  When you stand up, what do people see?
Do you reflect God, honoring him, or is your life filled with dishonor?  When you stand up, do people see a reflection of God or do they just see you?

We all have a testimony.  I have my story of God saving me.  God has glorified himself through my life.

Salvation means deliverance.  We are saved from and delivered from sin and bondage.  We need more deliverance and more saving, as we live our lives and continue in our journey.
Whatever we are facing, we depend on God for saving and deliverance.
Whatever glory we are destined for, that also completely depends on God.  It is all in God.
Some people seek glory apart from God or give lip service to God, while not genuinely having God’s glory.  There can be a lot of God talk without God’s presence.
This verse and this song reminds me that my life is in God and I am completely dependent upon God:

I am at rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will never be shaken.

How long will you threaten a man?
Will all of you attack
as if he were a leaning wall
or a tottering stone fence?
They only plan to bring him down
from his high position.
They take pleasure in lying;
they bless with their mouths,
but they curse inwardly.  Selah

Rest in God alone, my soul,
for my hope comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I will not be shaken.
My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock.
My refuge is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts before Him.
God is our refuge.  Selah

Men are only a vapor;
exalted men, an illusion.
Weighed in the scales, they go up;
together they are less than a vapor.
Place no trust in oppression,
or false hope in robbery.
If wealth increases,
pay no attention to it.

God has spoken once;
I have heard this twice:
strength belongs to God,
and faithful love belongs to You, Lord.
For You repay each according to his works.

Are we resting in God’s salvation?  I see that as a key.  It is all in God and upon God, but I get to play, to participate.  I receive his works, and my glory is his glory in, through, and upon my life.

My soul continually rests in God, while salvation and deliverance come to me; sooner or later.  And God is glorified and I share his glory because I am his and it is his work in my life.  It all depends on God and God works it all out.

When I rest in God, knowing salvation and my reputation or the outcomes of and in my life depend on Him, I can partake of his love and enjoy him and be at peace, while exercising faith, on-the-ground.  On the battle field of life, on earth, there is love and resting in God.  This is a revelation, and an epiphany, a learned thing.

Do you get it?

Life is hard, there are hardships and difficulties, and even lost battles.  But there is joy, hope, and love always in and from God, in my relationship with faithful Father.  Though the battle rages, there is rest and there is communion with the Lord.

This is the way of the warrior who is a son or a daughter of God.  All of salvation is in and through God.  How will he make a way?  He will.  Rest in him and let him do it.

The rest is in the refuge of God.  He is my place of rest, my hiding place, my place of safety and immunity.  Out of that place, the place of rest in God is my life and my salvation.

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