Sunday, April 23, 2017

Letters to the Churches: Ephesis

Dear Christa—
I tend to neglect the book of Revelation. We tend to think of it as a book regarding the future, and, frankly, I seem to think I need something to help get me through the here and now when I read the words of God. So, after much time, I decided to open the neglected book, if for no other reason, it seemed like a good thing to do. And right there in the second chapter, Jesus speaks to the churches. These were real churches in the time the Apostle John penned his vision. Also, some think they could be interpreted to a declining universal Church through the ages. Regardless, it seems to me that we can approach the letters with the attitude, “If the shoe fits…”
The first church Jesus addresses is the congregation at Ephesus:
Jesus praises them for their hard work, perseverance, and for evaluating and recognizing false teachers, the Nicolaitans. The Nicolaitans were a sect of false teachers in the very early church. They were known compromising with the pagan culture, proclaiming that their spiritual liberty gave them leeway to practice idolatry and immorality” (NIV Study Bible notes).
Similar to today, we see people who want to claim the name of Christ, yet not live a life prescribed in Scripture. I think it probably came about logically, as such things often do. There was the accusation of legalism. There was the recognition of freedom in Christ. Yet, people have a difficult time maintaining balance, and the tension between living in the world and not being of it is ever present for all of us.
Freedom became license and license became rejection of some of the basic tenants of the worship of the one True God in the presence and practice of all types of idolatry from Genesis right down to the here and now.
The Nicolaitans did not spring from without; the false perspective was bred right in the Church—perhaps from the church in Jerusalem itself.
Right here in Revelation 1, Jesus states not that He hates the Nicolaitans, but their practices; and the church at Ephesus was commended for their recognition and stand against the false teaching. It’s always a danger to interpret Scripture through the lens of culture instead of interpreting culture through the lens of Scripture.
If we believe the Bible to be the very Words of God—and we do—we must maintain a practice of the later, regardless of the difficulty. And difficult it really is because we also must be sure that we are correctly interpreting the Words of Truth. We naturally tend to interpret Scripture through our lens instead of God’s. Oh, to approach Scripture with the attitude of “teach me your ways, oh Lord.”
Jesus simply ends by stating, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Sprit (God) says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7).
Let us search the Bible to know God better and with the desire to follow Him, for He alone can redeem us. And, He alone can reveal the Words of Life.
—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Thoughts

Easter 2017

Dear Christa—
I don’t understand how God is three in one, but He is. And, I don’t understand how a part of God could die while the rest lived, but He did.
When Jesus died, the heavens grew dark; the earth trembled. The Temple veil ripped from top to bottom and the barrier between this world and the next seems to have given way as dead souls rose right out of their graves. It must have been a terrible sight to behold.
Nietzsche stated, “God is dead.”
He was wrong.
If God were dead, the stars would fall out of the sky; the earth would heave and the rocks would fall on us. For God alone knits the universes together. He is the Creator. He is the sustainer. He is God.
We can be sure that God is alive today as much as we anticipate the sun coming up.
What kind of God could die and rise up?
It is a power we cannot understand. It is the power of God.
Because God is alive, we can eat, breathe, and conduct our business.
We can love, pray, and know that He attends to the world and to us.
Jesus God is alive.
Therefore, we can be alive also.

—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Passion Week

Dear Christa—

God is the beginning and the end. He created time with creation and will end time when He so determines. It’s hard to wrap our minds around a concept without time. We live in such a time structured world. There is birth, growth, maturity, old age, and death—and yet always birth follows. I recall the great comfort of Joel and Kim arriving with baby Helen and toddler Breck at the funeral of my dad. I think Christina’s coming with 3 year-old Caleb had the same affect for Jay’s mom at such a time.

There is something about babies that ministers hope.

Within the continuum of time, birth images eternity—not in a cyclical way that is often portrayed today—but in the assurance that a step from this world is an entrance to one without end, where God resides in a way different from how the time continuum perceives Him.

The Bible reveals God to us. Not only is He the Creator of all things, and the Savior of all time, the Apostle John introduces Jesus as “him who is, who was, and who is to come” in Revelation 1.

The progressive order is interesting. Jesus who is—who has always been—both in and out of the time continuum.

He “loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood? Rev. 1:5
To him be glory and power for ever and ever.” Rev. 1:6

We often come to Him with many requests—and that’s not bad—but when do we come to simply worship?

He is God.

There is no other.

See Him today for who He is as we contemplate His work and exit from our time laden world this Passion Week.

—the parishioner who doesn’t do anything