Archive for November, 2007

Friends,

I’m back from school. I just finished my class–well, I have one more paper to write, but other than that, the class is finished. So I have been away for a couple of days. Now, I have a couple of stories to update for you and after I have watched episode 3 of Project Runway I’ll be posting a story on it.

First, from the ‘scientists really know how to spend money well’ department, a story that will seriously affect my friend Jeff over at atheocracy. Turns out, Canadian beer drinkers–I guess there’s some sort of beer drinkers guild–are actually part of the problem behind that massive global turmoil: Global Warming. (Original Story.)

 Scientists have found a new threat to the planet: Canadian beer drinkers.The government-commissioned study says the old, inefficient “beer fridges” that one in three Canadian households use to store their Molson and Labatt’s contribute significantly to global warming by guzzling gas- and coal-fired electricity.“People need to understand the impact of their lifestyles,” British environmental consultant Joanna Yarrow tells New Scientist magazine. “Clearly the environmental implications of having a frivolous luxury like a beer fridge are not hitting home. This research helps inform people — let’s hope it has an effect.”

Somewhere I hear someone laughing. I hope someone is laughing because if this story is true we are all in trouble. (Seriously, I hope this story is a joke. And, Jeff, if you read this, I’m pulling for you on this one. Is there anything that doesn’t cause global warming on this warm globe?)

Second, I’ve done some Tila Tequila posts. Here’s a new one:

November 30, 2007 — SELF-proclaimed bisexual MTV skank Tila Tequila may actually be straight as an arrow. The gay-for-pay bikini babe stars in a “A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila,” about her search for the perfect mate – male or female. But it’s “all a sham,” says a source close to the show.

Does anyone happen to care? Does anyone even watch the show? Seriously, why is this news?

Third, Evel Knievel, 1938-2007, RIP.

Fourth, more valuable information from scientists who are, as you can see by this article, doing their best to solve some of the more pressing problems facing the globe: Zombie Cockroaches. Scientists also found a way to turn humans into zombies: They write books.

Glad to be back. I’ll write to you soon.

jerry

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Friends,

I’m far behind all my writing projects due to the long Thanksgiving break we just came off of. I managed to write a little last week while on vacation, but not much. Anyhow, here’s my thoughts on Project Runway, Season 4, Episode 2.

First, I have to say that I was not particularly thrilled with the choice Sarah Jessica Parker as a guest judge. I never watched the ridiculous Sex & The City so maybe I’m biased against her. On the other hand, I had no idea she was a ‘fashion icon.’ I didn’t realize that she was so spectacular that Chris had to cry about it.

Second, seriously, what is up with Christian’s hair? What is up with Christian?

Third, I did appreciate the comment by SJP, “Fashion shouldn’t be about luxury; quality shouldn’t be about privilege.” This is exactly why I shop at Wal-Mart and Pennies.

Fourth, is Ricky going to cry during every episode? I mean, is every challenge going to be a major life crisis? Make some clothes, loser.

Fifth, Polymorphic: adj., “having, assuming, or occurring in various forms, characters, or styles.” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary) Elisa is one strange cookie, but so far I’m pulling for her to win. She’s made two great looks and at least has a sense of humor.

Sixth, along the lines of ‘is this going to happen every episode,’ is Tim Gunn going to continue saying ‘Knock their socks off’? Don’t you think he could find something new to say, like, ‘Go turn Nina on,’ or ‘Go make a splash,’ or ‘Break a leg,’ (oh, maybe not to a model.)

Seventh, Quote of the Night: “I’m coming to your planet, but with gifts.” Elisa.

Eighth, all in all I thought this was a good episode. I think they have to keep Elisa around as long as possible, and get rid of Christian as soon as possible. Best look of the night: Ricky and Jack. I’d buy this red dress for my wife any day of the week–even if I had to go into one of SJP’s stores to get it.

I hope this year is much like last year without too much drama and in-fighting. I like it much better when the people get along and act like they are at least somewhat grown-up.  

Finally, Marion: Auf Wiedersehen!

Tune in later this week for more Project Runway commentary and review.

jerry

Friends,

I didn’t know that detective Munchhad a blog, but it turns out he does. He wrote:

These soulless operatives, at the behest of their “superiors”, rape and pillage the dictionary to obfuscate how little they care for our nation’s most vulnerable and helpless: hungry children!

Many of these renaming attempts are patently ridiculous. But to lessen the Hobbesian barbarity of this administration’s perpetual “war” on the disenfranchised is amongst its lowest and most loathsome rewriting of history and the truth.

Again, one must ask: What would Jesus do? Happy Thanksgiving?

Well, I’m having a little trouble understanding the connection Detective Munch is making between a government stupidity and Jesus. I recall, from reading the Scripture, that Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” But in this world, folks like Detective Munch go out of their way to prevent just that from happening. I recall Jesus fed 4,000 & 5,000 people on two separate occasions, but Jesus is consistently shoved aside in favor of Flying Spaghetti Monsters.

I know what Jesus would do which is why I think there is a better question to ask: What is Richard Belzer doing (when the cameras aren’t rolling)? These bleeding heart liberals and all their sophistry is yet another in that long list of things that piss me off to no end. I wonder how many children Munch is feeding today? I wonder how many of his millions he is dishing out today to help feed the hungry? It is nothing short of ironic that this guy played a character named Munch.

Would the good detective be willing to sell his property or stock holdings and move into a lower class neighborhood in some poor town in America where he can share his wealth with the poor the way most Christians do? Is this blog post by the detective really about the poor hungry children or is it about assuaging his own guilt as he sits down to fatten his own face?

What would Munch do? Happy Thanksgiving.

jerry

Friends,

Yesterday a friend of mine gave me my very first copy of the Book of Common Prayer. I am so pleased to possess this book and share its depths with you. 

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

For the Harvest

Most gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths are broken up and the clouds drop down the dew: We yield thee hearty thanks and praise for the return of seedtime and harvest, for the increase of the ground and the gathering of its fruits, and for all the other blessings of thy merciful providence bestowed upon this nation and people. And, we beseech thee, give us a just sense of these great mercies, such as may appear in our lives by a humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost be all glory and honor, world without out. Amen.

For Heroic Service

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Mission of the Church

Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to reconcile the world to yourself: We praise and bless you for those whom you have sent in the power of the Spirit to preach the Gospel to all nations. We thank you that in all parts of the earth a community of love has been gathered together by their prayers and labors, and that in every place your servants call upon your Name; for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever. Amen.

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving Holy-Day.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

Tune in tomorrow for my update on Project Runway, Season 4: Episode 2. All I have to say tonight is ‘Wow’! The competition was fierce and the aliens have landed!

CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE ON SEASON 4, EPISODE 2.

I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

jerry

John 17:20-26 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 79)

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24″Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25″Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren…Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 20-21).

Our problem in the church is that we have tried to forge unity on the grounds of every conceivable construct imaginable to theologians and preachers. You name it, and it has been the next great thing in Church unity. We have tried Reformation, Restoration, Regeneration. We have tried Purpose, Pentecost, and Premillennial. We have tried Aquinas, Calvin, and Campbell. We have tried Wesley, Luther, and Zwingli. We have thought that the best way to forge unity in the church was through doctrinal purity or baptismal sanctity. We are now working on a unity based on the assumption that everything in the past is degenerating and a new kind of church is emerging—one that, presumably, understands things far better, has a greater insight, and a deeper compassion for people. We have tried to unite the church around health, wealth, and miracles-a-plenty. We have tried evangelism, millennialism, and Pentecostalism. We have tried modernism, postmodernism, and post-post modernism.

The problem is that what we have thought was the unifying feature we were missing, the one just beyond our grasp, was always, in fact, just beyond our reach. If we think a little harder, have a few more conferences, host a symposium or two, bring in some young, good looking articulate and charismatic up-and-coming, on the rise, just published a million seller book preacher to expound on the glories of oneness we will suddenly, magically, be one. That one thing we needed—perhaps a pope or a creed—never makes an appearance. We continue, then, to be divided along denominational lines, along theological bunkers, and along differing schools of thought: And every single hunkered in a bunker, believer in a particular theological construct believes in their hearts that theyare protecting the faith once delivered. There’s not one Christian, with the exception of the stalwart geniuses in the Emergent Church movement, who has figured this out yet. And those who have, the Emergent Church Movement, have gone so far in their efforts so as to be labeled by most orthodox evangelicals as theological heretics who border on blasphemy and Marcionic types of heresy.

I belong to a tradition, the so-called Restoration Movement or Stone-Campbell Movement, that has had this air of hunkered-in-a-bunker mentality. WE are the ones, we have thought, who will restore theology to its proper orthodox understanding and thus build a Church where there is no Creed but Christ, and no Book but the Bible, but we have spent so much energy and effort trying to be accepted as evangelicals that we are far behind the theological curve and, frankly, lack a prophetic voice. We have had to prove that we are even orthodox to those ones in the know, the judges of all things Christ, in the more established traditions. I’m not complaining. I am pointing out the history and reality of the situation. We have traditionally believed, I think somewhat naively and bravely, that if we could just ‘get back to Scripture’ then all would be well. This worked well for the first 50-75 years (in the late 17 and early 1800’s) when people in America were getting fed up with the denominations that pocked the countryside. Anymore, sad to say, we are just ‘another denomination.’ Many will disagree, but the truth is we have forgotten the Pleain our efforts to be accepted as legitimately evangelical and necessarily Biblical. Now we are trying to legitimize our existence by planting and growing megachurches and sending love letters to Britney Spears and by imitating the Purpose Driven Willow Back Church of the Prairie Lake.

I confess that the Essential Oneness of the Church is far too narrow a perspective for these verses, but I’m willing to take the chance that our Oneness is important enough to exclude a little for now. The essential aspect of our oneness is Jesus Christ. I think that much is clear from reading these verses. Jesus prayed about our oneness, our unity, and said quite specifically that our oneness is found in no other place but himself. And he prayed about our oneness. I don’t think this means that the presence of the denomination in the world is an un-answer to prayer. Nor do I think the denomination defeats the will of Christ in this matter. But there is a greater oneness that I believe transcends the denomination that we have missed or forgotten or ignored. If Jesus prayed for it, shouldn’t we and not just at our local parish level. I mean at a worldwide wide, transdenominational level.

When Jesus began this final section of his prayer, his first priority for ‘those who believed’ the apostles’ message was that we would be one. I don’t understand why it is that we have failed to make this a priority in our prayers, in our symposiums, in our conferences, in our theological studies, in our preaching, and in our churches. Why is it that we have no theological classes that discuss and teach the essential, biblical, constitutional oneness of the Church in Christ? We claim to be the Church of Christ—all of us, not just a denomination—but we have very few Churches in Christ, don’t we? Even that is not entirely true. We do talk a big talk when it comes to the oneness of the church and of our affection for those of other denominations. But it is always an ideal we need to grasp or an ideal that Jesus spoke of that we have failed to achieve. We always speak of the oneness of the church in terms of our failure to achieve instead of in terms of Christ’s prayer for it and it’s true existence in Jesus. We speak highly of Jesus’ priority in prayer for the oneness of the church, but we are an impediment to this oneness; we are the stumbling block.

I’m not lamenting this. In Christ we are one whether we like it or not. This is not something we can help. It’s not something we can destroy any more than it is something we created to begin with. The problem is that we simply will not acknowledge the truth and I think the reason is nailed by Bonhoeffer: We do not have a central focus on the Grace of God who made us what we are. Thus, we are apt to confess more easily and readily our denominational by-laws and catechisms than we are Christ. In truth, however, our oneness must have as its foundation the grace of God in Christ. Where we are dis-unified it is because we have thoroughly forgotten about the grace of God and cluttered and littered our churches with dis-unifying ideas that are focussed more on the things of men, the ideas of men, than they are on the things of God. What about grace? What about the love of Christ? Is not the love of Christ enough to bind us together as one people?

I need to ponder and pray on this matter some more. Also, I fully realize that I have not approached these verses completely exegetically. Still, there is something to be said about our unity in Christ and I hope these thoughts spur your own even a little to understand the grace of God and the oneness of the church.

Soli Deo Gloria!

John 17:13-19 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 78)

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

I always had the impression that when this prayer was prayed Jesus was hunkered down, hands over his head, and quite alone. Then one day I sort of discovered that there is nothing to indicate that Jesus ever left the company of his disciples between chapter 16 and chapter 17. These verses are testimony that Jesus was with them when he prayed and that they did hear what he prayed when he prayed it. In other words, they are privy to the mystery of divine prayer. They not only heard what Jesus was saying, but they heard what he was praying.

Imagine being in the room and hearing the Son of God praying specific prayers for you! Even though I know Jesus is praying for his disciples, those 11 still there, isn’t there a sense in which Jesus prays these words for us too? I take comfort from that. It is often that we hear about the prayers we ought to pray, the words we ought to use when we pray, the posture we ought to assume when we pray, and the absolute necessity of bathing every step we take, every chicken nugget we eat, every cold beer we drink in a prayer ‘in Jesus’ name.’ I’m not disputing that for a minute. But how often do we stop and consider the prayers that the Son of God prays for us even today? So the book of Hebrews says:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10)

There is also the idea that the Spirit still prays for us even now:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)

The idea, again, is that it might be helpful if we paid close attention to the things that Jesus prayed for us. This will undoubtedly give us a clue into His priorities for our lives and also, surely, give us a significant direction for our own prayer priorities. For the balance, let’s look at the priorities of Jesus’ prayer here in verses 13-19 bearing in mind that he specifically prayed these things “while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Jesus wanted his disciples to hear what he prayed and he wanted them to take great joy from the prayer he prayed.

First, he says that he has given them ‘your word’ and the world has hated them. Well what sort of prayer is that? Is that a good thing? From the perspective of faith, yes, it is. In other words, it is better to be on the side of Jesus and be hated than to not be on the side of Jesus and be loved. This is a paradox that the world surely cannot understand. But perhaps there is something to be said, also, about being hated and being in line with the Word that Jesus gave them. Could it be that the hatred or love of the world is one way of determining whether or not we do have his word? It seems to me that the world will not hate its own, but that those who go against the grain and preach the Gospel of Christ, the Word of God, will be hated precisely because the world hated Jesus. I don’t think this means we need to look for hate because I am confident that if we faithfully preach the Gospel the hate of the world will find us. (Just read through some of the comments folks post in reply here.)

Second, Jesus prays notthat God take us out of this world. Well what sort of prayer is that? Doesn’t this world, well, suck? Isn’t there all sorts of violence and persecution and hatred? Why should the Christian wish to remain behind in this place so full of people who hate us and so much opposition? Can any possible good come from being in a world like the one we are in especially when we are not, in Jesus’ own words, a part of this world? Well, sure there is if it is God who is doing the protecting of us while we are here. So what does the Scripture say? Paul’s words make better sense to me than anything imaginable:

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31-39).

This is sufficient reason for Jesus to pray that God notremove us from the place where the opposition is greatest, the hate the fiercest, and the violence most egregious. I can only assume that it is in this place, in spite of these oppositions, that God will sanctify us. Here in the fires of this present darkness God purifies his people. Yes, leaving us here is, in his good will, a blessing.

Third, Jesus prays that God will send us out into the world. He is no more content to leave us idle and ambition-less than he is to take us out of this world. Well what sort of prayer is this? Here we have already established that this world hates us and is full of violence and opposition to the Word of God. Not only is the world opposed to the Word of God but it is also vehemently opposed to those who happen to carry this Word with them wherever they go. So what does Jesus pray? “Go. Father I pray that you send them out. Like Lambs among wolves. Like doves among serpents. Send them out into the world. Father, as you sent me, send them.” Of course, this is a good thing. How will others hear the good news if we do not obey? He specifically prays that we will be sent. So again the Gospel:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)

Fourth, Jesus prays for sanctification. Jesus prays that his disciples will be as steadfastly dedicated to the task at hand as he is. There is no negative here, only positive. In Carson’s words, “Jesus dedicates himself to the task of bringing in God’s saving reign, as God’s priest and prophet; but the purpose of this dedication is that his followers may dedicate themselves to the same saving reign, the same mission to the world” (The Gospel According to John, 567). Our work of dedication to the saving reign is dependent upon Jesus’ dedication to the same task. Jesus’ dedication carries him to the cross. The question is, are we are steadfastly dedicated to the work of bringing God’s saving reign to bear on this earth?

He gives us His word to take. He protects us by the power of the Father. He sends us out into the world. He sets us aside for the Work only after setting himself apart for the work. Will we truly walk in the footsteps of Jesus? We will be those of beautiful feet even as those eleven he prayed for that night? Furthermore, do we take joy that Jesus prayed these things? After all, he did pray these things to be heard and received with joy.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

Here are some news bits that I found interesting this morning.

First, talk about Giant Bugs! The AP is reporting that scientists have uncovered one really big bug fossil:

The discovery in 390-million-year-old rocks suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were far larger in the past than previously thought, said Simon Braddy, a University of Bristol paleontologist and one of the study’s three authors.

I don’t know about that mysterious 390-million year old rock, but the story is certainly an interesting one and the discovery even more so. I’d hate to find it in my house.

Second, Jerry Springer–the Opera is coming under fire in the UK. Here’s a glimpse:

Two judges were told the show was “an offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief” that no one would have dreamed of making about the prophet Mohammed and Islam.

Stephen Green, the national director of the evangelical group Christian Voice, is attempting to prosecute the producer of the award-winning musical, which has been shown in theatres around the country, and the BBC, which broadcast it in 2005.

I applaud their concern for the Name of Jesus, but what do they expect? Verdict: A Waste of Time. Look what the world did to Jesus. Should we all of the sudden expect the world to start acting with some care or concern or reverence?

Third, it appears the Pope is purging–music. Says the article:

The Pope has recently replaced the director of pontifical liturgical celebrations, Archbishop Piero Marini, with a man closer to his heart, Mgr Guido Marini. It is now thought he may replace the head of the Sistine Chapel choir, Giuseppe Liberto.

The International Church Music Review recently criticised the choir, saying: “The singers wanted to overshout each other, they were frequently out of tune, the sound uneven, the conducting without any artistic power, the organ and organ playing like in a second-rank country parish church.”

I can think of some other things the pope ought to purge from the Vatican, but that’s another post.

Fourth, evidently, times are troubled in the Netherlands:

“The Netherlands is too complex to sum up in one cliche,” she said. “A typical Dutch person doesn’t exist.”

Her comments have tapped into an unsettled feeling among many Dutch who fear traditional values have been eroded in a country roiled by a rise in Muslim extremism. It’s a view espoused by Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has turned her back on her Islamic roots.

What do they really expect? How long before a ‘typical American person’ doesn’t exist either? What do people really think Islam is about, or is doing? Isn’t world domination precisely their goal?

Fifth, Michael Newdow is bored again and his tireless efforts on behalf of the .01% of atheists in the American population continues. What a hero he is! What a warrior! What a patriot!

California atheist activist Michael Newdow is renewing his fight to remove reference to God from the Pledge of Allegiance, this time with a suit filed on behalf of an anonymous New Hampshire couple against a school district.

The couple, an agnostic and atheist with three children, say in their complaint that they “generally, deny that God exists” and contend their constitutional rights are violated when school authorities require their children to “participate in making the purely religious, monotheistic claim that the United States is ‘one nation under God.'”

You know, the funny thing about this is this: No child is forced to say the pledge of allegiance. I work in a public school and I have never once seen a teacher walking around with a weapon in hand threatening students who refuse to say the Pledge with detention or death. Here’s an option for Newdow: Home-school! (As if the teaching of Darwinism isn’t the establishment of a religion!) This guy needs to get a job.

Thanks for stopping by,

jerry

John 17:6-12 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 77)

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

These verses, rightly understood, are Jesus’ prayer for the 12. This makes the application of these verses rather difficult because, rightly understood, Jesus was not specifically praying for ‘us.’ This he will do in the later verses (20-26). So we have to be careful when explaining and applying these verses 6-12. So, let’s look at this in two parts. First, let’s look and see what Jesus prayed for his disciples. After we have done so, carefully, I will try to apply these verses to us. Most likely, I will not directly apply every single aspect, but rather will focus on a couple or three of the more obvious applications.

Notice, several details of the prayer that Jesus prays for his disciples. One of Jesus’ priorities while the disciples were with him was this: He revealed God to them. This is important because we understand then that Jesus revealed something to them that no one else had ever done in such a complete way. Granted, Moses gave the Law. Granted, the Prophets spoke, ‘thus sayeth the Lord.’ But the book of Hebrews says these revelations were rather incomplete: “In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” He has spoken to us by His Son! So to the Disciples Jesus revealed God. Of course, this has been a most important aspect of John’s Gospel since the beginning chapters. “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and his disciples put their faith in him” (John 2:11).

Another important dimension of Jesus’ prayer is this: “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.” Jesus has said in that he only spoke the words he heard from the Father and the words that Father told him to speak. I think of it this way: Jesus did not waste so much as a syllable. Every word he spoke was from God. Every word he spoke was meant to be heard, listened to and obeyed. Every word he spoke is the eternal Word of God that will not fall or fail. It is the Word of God that is effective to accomplish his purposes. It is the Word of God that goes forth and does not return to Him void. It is the Word of God that cuts people to the heart. His words were the Words of God that ‘faith cometh by.’ And Jesus took these words and he gave them to the disciples and the disciples took them into themselves. These words were the words that the disciples lived by more than bread. These are the words that Jesus entrusted to His disciples from the start.

Finally, take special note of the depth of Jesus’ prayer of protection over the disciples. He specifically mentions that he will be leaving and they will be staying behind. He prays that their protection while they remain behind will come from the Name that God gave Him, the Name of Jesus, the Name at which every knee will bow and every tongue confess. Evidently, there is power in the Name! Jesus said that while he was with them He did the protecting. Now he asks that God continue this protection. What is strange, though, is that when we get to the book of Acts we learn that the disciples underwent quite a bit of persecution and torment for the very Name that Jesus said would be their protection. It got so bad that the authorities even ordered the Name of Jesus banned.

Notice also, pertaining to this last point of protection in Jesus’ Name, Jesus includes a reason for such protection: That they may be One. Is it possible that when we are protected under any other banner we are not protected at all? Is it further possible that when we are protected in the Name of Jesus our full identity is disclosed. Carson comments, “…their unity is the purpose of their being kept. They cannot be one as Jesus and the Father are one unless they are kept in God’s name, i.e. in loyal allegiance to his gracious self-disclosure in the person of his Son” (The Gospel According to John, 563).

Now, as to application of these verses into our present day what shall we say? Well, three things. First, Jesus said that he revealed God to the disciples and as such I believe then that we can be confident in the disciples’ testimony about God. That is, we can develop a proper theology of God based on the things they have written. We can have confidence that they are not leading us into doctrinal error about God. We can be confident that their teaching about God, about Jesus Christ, is in keeping with the revelation that Jesus gave them. It’s not just that Jesus revealed words to them, he revealed God to them. Over and over again in John’s Gospel this point is brought out by the apostle who wrote this Gospel. He consistently teaches us about God who sent Jesus to earth. As it is, for the purposes of this short meditation, we can have confidence that the God Jesus revealed to them is the God they have revealed to us.

Second, Jesus said he gave them the words of God. Thus I believe we can trust that the teachings they have left behind are, in fact, not their own. The Gospel is no invention of man. It is no mere mythology or fantasy story. It is The Word of God. Alone of all works are the Words of Jesus the Word of God. We can have confidence that their words are God’s Words. So if this is true, and most Christians do believe it true, then the Scripture is God’s Words to us as well. We ignore these words to our own demise. We ridicule them to our own shame. They are God’s own testimony to us. We dare not ignore them for they fully and comprehensively teach us all we need to know about God, ourselves, and the world in which we live. These Words in our Bible are the Words of Jesus which are the Words of God. We might call it the Gospel according to John but in reality it is the the Gospel according to Jesus as written down by John. We can trust these words as the truth because God is not given to lies.

Third, Jesus prayed for the protection of the disciples. Still, we know they suffered. I take this to mean simply that even when the disciples suffered (through persecution) they were being protected by the powerful Name of Jesus. I also infer this to mean that somehow their oneness and unity were forged in spite of this suffering precisely because they were protected by the Name of Jesus. I might also add that their unity in Jesus’ Name is never in question. The protection of Jesus’ Name does not yield to pressure. A protection under any other name, a protection under any other entity simply would not yield the sort of unity that the Name of Jesus forges. So, with this in mind, I think the application is something like this: We can have the same confidence in the protection of Jesus too when we suffer or are persecuted for the Name of Jesus. The tie that binds us together is the Name of Jesus and I don’t think that Jesus has promised us anything less than he promised them. He wants us to recognize the basis of our oneness, what our unity transcends, and why the best protection afforded to us is only in His Name.

There is something about That Name.

Soli Deo Gloria!

John 17:1-5 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 76)

1After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

DA Carson wrote, “To see God’s glory, to be given eternal life—these are parallel, and, lest the reader miss the point, the two themes are drawn together in v. 3. Eternal life turns on nothing more and nothing less than knowledge of the true God. Eternal life is not so much everlasting life as personal knowledge of the Everlasting One” (The Gospel According to John, 556).

The first thing that must be remembered about what is preserved for us in John 17 is the nature of what is said. That is, John 17 is not merely a history or a biography or a transcript of some conversation or parable of Jesus (I’m not implying that those things are bad or inferior.) What I’m concerned about here is this: If Jesus is who he claimed to be in John’s Gospel, namely, the Great I Am, and here in John 17 he is praying, then what a prayer this is! Furthermore, we should take careful note of his words, the what of his prayer. The what, though, is only important to the extent that we understand the who and the how.

Simply put: This is the Great I Am praying a prayer! It seems to me to be of utmost importance to pay close attention to this prayer, but as prayer before content. What are the words that Jesus uses? What are the ambitions he prayers for? What is he concerned enough about to pray for? What matters to him when he prays? And, if this is true, are his concerns important enough that perhaps we should model our own prayers after his? Bryan Chapell has written a little book called Praying Backwards: Transform your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name. In the introduction he writes,

“How would your prayer change if you began where you normally end? We habitually end our prayers with the phrase ‘In Jesus’ name, Amen.’…When we pray ‘in Jesus’ name,’ we pray for his sake more than our own. We still present our desires and concerns to God, but we do so in the context of yielding our priorities to Christ’s priorities. The final phrase of our prayer reminds us, as well as commits us, to submit all our requests to the glory of God. Yet that is not always the way we pray. Often we focus on asking God to ease our worries and satisfy our wants before adding ‘in Jesus’ name’ as an obligatory spiritual seasoning to make our petitions palatable to God” (13).

If that is true, then shouldn’t the content of our prayers be the content of Jesus’ prayers? Should we not imitate the one who taught his disciples to pray? This is precisely the point of Don Carson’s book A Call to Spiritual Reformation even though Carson expands the well of content to include the prayers of the apostle Paul that are scattered throughout his writings. Carson writes that the ‘greatest need for churches today is a deeper knowledge of God’ (15). Carson says that when we pray the prayers of the New Testament our prayer priorities change—he believes that we actually start knowing God better. How can this be? Well, if Scripture is the Word of God, God breathed, then what better thing than to pray the very thoughts of God back to God? The shape of our prayers change, the content of the prayers change, the priorities change. I might go so far as to suggest that even our posture will change. Certainly our attitude will change. Perhaps then our prayers will be more lucid, less frenetic, less frantic. Perhaps we will be more trusting in God’s Sovereignty.

So Chapell,

“….Jesus is not like a genie in a bottle whom we can command by invoking his name. When we pray, we should be doing more than looking heavenward, believing with all our might that our wish will come true, and instead of repeating, ‘star light, star bright, bring the wish I wish tonight,’ saying, ‘In Jesus’ name, amen.’ Two problems immediately arise when we treat prayer like a surefire wishing star. First, we limit God by the wisdom of our wishes…The second problem with making prayer a wishing well is forcing the conclusion that prayers, like wishing wells, are fantasies…When we pray ‘in Jesus’ name,’ we have the assurance that he will answer our prayer in a way that brings glory to Jesus and furthers his kingdom” (13-14, 15).

So the idea of praying the Scripture is not so far-fetched after all and it makes all the more sense when we see the way that Jesus prayed. What comes first? Does a renewed recipe, invigorated content, of prayer lead to a renewed vision of the Greatness of Christ? Or does a renewed vision of the Greatness of Christ lead to renewed recipe and invigorated content in our prayers? Maybe it is somehow linked together in ways we don’t really understand.

What about the content, then, of Jesus’ prayer in John 17? Well, if the content of this prayer doesn’t revitalize our content and renew our vision I suspect very little will. Let’s look at it briefly.

First, Jesus was concerned about God’s glory, and not his own. Yes, Jesus prays, “Father, glorify your Son, in order that…” Jesus is not concerned about himself. He is concerned about God’s glory—an important theme in John’s Gospel (see 12:27-34). Jesus’ first prayer priority is the Glory of God. When you pray, is this always your priority? Is this always your first request, petition, thanksgiving, and prayer?

Second, Jesus was concerned with the things of eternity. “For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.” Jesus is not merely concerned with the temporal. His plans are ambitious so to speak. He has a grand vision. I think sometimes our prayers on earth are far too temporal, far too mundane, far too ‘things of man, not things of God.’ Just imagine for a minute: The Son of God prayed about our eternal destiny. He prayed the big picture—do we?

Third, Jesus prayed that we might know God: “Now this is eternal life: That they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.” Carson is surely right: Eternal life is not just about living or existing. Someone commented the other day, “Won’t we get bored doing all that eternal living?” My question is, “How could we get bored spending an eternity knowing the Infinite God? How could our knowledge of Him, His mysteries, and Jesus Christ ever be exhausted?” Surely this is eternal life! Surely, this is Living!

Fourth, Jesus again prays about the glory of God and about “…completing the work you gave me to do.” But even this work that Jesus prayed about was still very concerned with God being glorified. Maybe sometimes we pray that God will help us finish or we do finish something just so it can be done or so we can get some praise for ourselves. Jesus says that he finished the work God gave him to do so that God would be glorified. This is a difficult lesson to get into our heads, but get it into our hearts we must. What greater work can we be about than the work of bringing glory to the Name of God?

Fifth, Jesus prays very simply, “Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” So we understand that Jesus gave up something in order to come here. I can’t imagine this because we humans cling tenaciously to what little glory we have. A little lower than the angels we may be, but we are not going any lower (and fight with the angels if we could)! We are just not as able to let go and let God. Jesus did just that. Can you imagine being strong enough to so entrust yourself to God? Can you imagine being so emptied of pride, ambition, and self that you pray, “Father, I’ll leave it up to you to glorify me in whatever way you choose”?

Thus it comes full circle. Jesus begins by praying that God be glorified, his prayer is filled with concern for God’s glory, and he ends with God’s glory. It does make one wonder amidst the prayers for healing, bill paying and world peace where God’s glory fits in doesn’t it? And if we dare to suggest such a thing as God’s glory is more important, most important, we are ridiculed and God’s Name is blasphemed. But God’s glory will not be surrendered, nor will it be sacrificed, and it makes perfectly logical sense that our prayers will be filled with this same priority as Jesus’ was.

Soli Deo Gloria!

John 16:25-33 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 75)

25″Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” 29Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” 31″You believe at last!” Jesus answered. 32″But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33″I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I’d like to focus on the last verse today; verse 33. I agree: The world is full of trouble. It’s hard to keep up with all the trouble in the world. The irony is, I think, that the world continues to tell us that the answer is to move further and further away from God, ignore the Bible more and more, mock Jesus with increasing vigor. And so the world goes.

The atheists would have us to believe that they are making progress. The Darwinists would have us believe that we will continue to improve with each technological advancement. The liberal theologians would have us to believe that increased inclusiveness (sort of an ‘all world religion’) will make for greater peace. And so the world goes.

There’s more we must contend with in the world too. Increased violence. Increased hatred. Increased angst. Suicide. Homicide. War. The world continues to run down and people continue to go about their merry way. And so the world goes.

Is it any better in the church? I don’t think so. Important doctrines continue to be watered down in efforts to ‘get more people in.’ More and more sins are continually added to the list of ‘Oh God made me this way so it must be OK.’ More and more Scripture continues to be discredited by people who are more concerned about the ‘things of man’ than the ‘things of God.’ More and more false doctrine is preached from pulpits across America and around the world. And so the world goes.

I won’t end, I don’t think, anytime soon; however, I don’t happen to think that this means we should despair. The world had its chance to win and it did not take advantage of it. The world cannot win; it will not achieve victory; the world will never be triumphant over Righteousness. I know that right now it might look bleak. I suppose there hasn’t been a time in the history of man when times haven’t looked bleak. That does not mean that the world has triumphed. It does not mean the atheist’s denials prove anything. It does not mean that the Darwinist will last stand forth. It does not mean that the forces of evil in this present darkness will have the last say or the last laugh.

They have been crushed already beneath the heal of the Righteous One.

I want this to be an encouragement to those of you who read it. The world had its chance and the world failed. As Forsyth wrote, “The evil world will not win at last, because it failed to win at the only time it ever could. It is a vanquished world where men play their devilries. Christ has overcome it. It can make tribulation, but desolation it can never make” (The Justification of God, 223). This is the Christian’s hope. It is also a hope that world in general hopes to replicate through government oversight, through booming economies, and wars. If the world only knew what Christ has already accomplished! If only the world would submit to the Word of Christ! If only the world knew Jesus!

DA Carson wrote, “Jesus is not opposing the church and the world that there can be no conversions from the latter to the former. Nor does the very rendered ‘overcome’ merely refer to a personal overcoming, the preservation of personal integrity in the face of protracted opposition. Rather, the verb indicates victory; Jesus has conquered the world, in the same way that he has defeated the prince of this world. Jesus’ point is that by his death he has made the world’s opposition pointless and beggarly. The decisive battle has been waged and won. The world continues its wretched attacks, but those who are in Christ share the victory he has won. They cannot be harmed by the world’s evil, and they know who triumphs in the end. From this they take heart, and begin to share his peace” (The Gospel According to John, 550).

It’s not really that difficult to understand. The decisive victory has already been won. The world now is in the death throes of its impending demise. All those who think that their opposition matters are living in a delusion. But there is another issue here, too, that Christians need to bear in mind lest they grow arrogant in this victory: “Christianity is not the sacrifice we make, but the sacrifice we trust; not the victory we win, but the victory we inherit. That is the evangelical principle. We do not see the answer; we trust the Answerer, and measure by Him. We do not gain the victory; we are united with the Victor” (Forsyth, 220-221). So take heart! Be of Good Cheer! Rejoice and Be Glad! Celebrate! Evil and all that evil perpetuates has been crushed, humiliated, destroyed!

This is what makes the world unsafe—not that we win, but that He haswon. Perhaps we should take the time to rest in that victory. Do we really comprehend this God who does whatever it takes to destroy the infestation of evil in this world, and did? I’ll close these thoughts with another quote from Forsyth.

Must we not go on to find and trust in the Cross something more absolute even than universal, something which does not simply promise the final victory, but achieves it, something which is the crucial act of the world’s King, and not simply an act which ought to make Him that King, if right had might? Has He not only value for us but right, not only right but equal might? Is the last enemy already destroyed in the Cross? Is the last victory won? Are all things already put under the feet of God’s love and grace? Have we in the Cross of Christ the crisis of all spiritual existence? The Christian religion stands and falls with the answer Yes to such questions. In His Cross, Resurrection and Pentecost, Christ is the Son of God’s love with power. God’s love is the principle and power of all being. It is established in Christ everywhere and forever. Love so universal is also absolute and final. The world is His, whether in maelstrom or volcano, whether it sink to Beelzebub’s grossness or rise to Lucifer’s pride and culture. The thing is done, it is not to do. ‘Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ ‘This is the victory which hasovercome the world—your faith.’ The only teleology is a theodicy, and the only theodicy is theological and evangelical” (The Justification of God, 167).

Amen. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friends,

Some want humanity to be captured in their web and under their control whether it is the strident Global Warming activist or the ardent Darwinist.  This is not good for thinking people. However, there is hope:

Darwinism is in its evidential, mathematical, intellectual, philosophical, and ethical death throes — thus all the hysteria on the part of its adamant proponents, whose meaning in life (or lack thereof) is inextricably linked to it.

Sad it is for the Darwinist whose only link to life is a lie.  Sad that their only life is in something already dead.

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)

jerry

Friends,

Just in case this story turns out to be a joke or a hoax, I’ll add my disclaimer now. But if it turns out to be true, this is amazing: School Textbooks With Errors Tenatatively Approved. How many errors? Well, 109,263.

AUSTIN – Proposed math books for elementary school children and their teachers have resulted in one computation that publishers would just as soon erase – 109,263.

That’s the number of errors that were uncovered in proposed math textbooks that are under review by the State Board of Education for distribution to schools in the fall of 2008.

The total number of errors was nearly five times the total for last year, thanks to one publisher whose books contained more than 86,000 errors – 79 percent of the total.

Publishers will have until the spring to clean their books up. After that, they can be fined up to $5,000 for every error that makes it into the final editions of books shipped to Texas schools.

However, and here’s where it gets really interesting:

Despite the errors, state board members tentatively approved most of the books for use in public schools beginning next fall – subject to correction of the errors. Total projected cost for the elementary school math books is $116.8 million.

I don’t even know what to say about this. I’d like to make some jab at someone but I just don’t know who. It just goes to show that everyone makes misteaks every now and again. I guess 109 thousand isn’t too many. At least the errors were discovered before it was too late.  Sadly, we cannot say the same for the Science textbooks that are published every year.

jerry

Friends,

A scientist may have finally figured it all out for us:

This could possibly be everything we have ever needed to know. Although, I remember getting a gift one time as a child, I think it was at Christmas time. The gift, was a kaleidoscope. I remember seeing these same shapes in that toy. Click here for more. Or, perhaps someone already discovered it:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:15-19)

Have fun,
jerry

PS–I really am interested in this. I find this theoretical physics stuff to be fascinating. I hope more of this comes out soon.

Gotta Love Atheists

Friends,
Families of Fallen Utah Highway Patrol Troopers Fight Atheist Group Over Roadside Cross Memorials.

Don’t atheists have something better to do with their time, like, say, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless?

jerry