Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Working to Increase our Faith!

In Philippians 2, Paul tells us to continue to "work out of salvation with fear and trembling." He is telling to continue the work of the kingdom, to strive for a life the is set apart from the rest of the world, and to worship the Lord with our whole heart. I found the following that describes this action better than I can (written by Jon and Josh Bailey):

One day the great Michelangelo attracted a crowd of spectators as he worked. One child in particular was fascinated by the sight of chips flying and the sound of mallet on chisel. The master was shaping a large block of white marble. Unable to contain her curiosity, the little girl inquired, "What are you making?" He replied, "There is an angel in there and I must set it free."

Every Christian at their conversion is handed a large cold white marble block called religion. We must then take the mallet in hand and set to work. Religion is not our goal but we must first start there. Now there are many names for religion. At times we do call it religion but we often use other words and images to describe it. Sometimes we call it our faith. Jesus spoke in terms of the Kingdom of God. We say we are the Church, Christians, or Disciples. There are many names with varying nuances of meaning but in the end they all describe the same thing. We are a people of Faith, faith in Christ to be sure, but faith nonetheless.

We are not a business or institution. We do not sell or produce anything. We advocate no earthly cause. We serve no worldly authority. We come to a church building made by men. And to do what? Practice our faith. But we just as well could have met on a hillside or cave.

Our leader is not here, not so that I can show him to you or offer irrefutable evidence of his existence. That means faith is all we have. We are born through faith, live by faith, and die in faith. After my death, then and only then will I know in full, as the Apostle Paul says, when I see Jesus face to face. Until then I had better understand this religion thing.

Now that sounds pretty daunting doesn’t it? Here’s the good News. It’s not all that difficult. Religion is a marble slab and we have to find, like Michelangelo, the angel inside.

Working at increasing my faith everyday - you know I love ya, Don

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Comforter in our Sorrow!

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. -Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

There is so much sorrow in the this world. We experience it everyday, sometimes in a closer reality than others, but it is there. Why? Because we live in a fallen world. Filled with personal sin that so easily entangles us and separates us from the God and Savior that loves us so much.

Sandra Kirkland writes:

AS a home health nurse, I am privileged to provide care for people who are desperately ill. One of my patients is a 92-year-old man whose worn-out heart continues to work only because of the intravenous medication I administer every day. Another patient is a 32-year-old quadriplegic who struggles with frequent infections. And then there is an 86-year-old who has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

While I was driving home after a long, tiring day, I thought about the people I had seen and felt the weight of their sorrow. But as I drove, I looked out at a moonlit sky; the moon was bright and beautiful. In the midst of my concern, the Holy Spirit said to me: "Yes, there is terrible sorrow, but I am there also, to bring joy." I saw that it is the Spirit who inspires the old man's grandchildren to bring him the fresh catfish he loves so much. It is the Spirit who moves the friends of the quadriplegic to take him on the outings he enjoys. It was the Spirit who brought the cancer patient and his loving wife together. The Holy Spirit is the joy in the midst of their sorrow.

I appreciate Sandra's words. It is the Spirit of a Mighty God that carries us, gives us strength, and comforts us in our deepest sorrows. I know I could not be the person I am without the Spirit. Join me today in giving thanks for such a comforter. You know I love ya, Don

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Funny - Where is God?

This is an oldie, but it still brings a chuckle. I offer this today in honor of two brothers ...

Two brothers are terrible trouble makers. They are always breaking things, stealing things, lying, and making all kinds of general trouble. The parents have tried everything to get the boys to change, to no avail. Finally, out of options, they ask their pastor if he can help. He says he will talk to the boys, but only one at a time. The parents drop off the youngest and go home, promising to return to get him soon. The boy sits in a chair across from the pastor's desk and they just look at each other.

Finally, the Pastor says, "Where is God?"

The boy just sits there and doesn't answer.

The pastor begins to look stern and loudly says, "Where is God?"

The little boy shifts in his seat, but still doesn't answer.

The pastor is starting to get angry at the boy's refusal to converse and practically shouts "Where is God?"

To the pastor's surprise, the little boy jumps up out of his chair and runs out of the office.

The boy leaves the church and runs all the way home, up the stairs and into his brother's room. He shuts the door and pants, "We're in BIG TROUBLE. God's missing and they think we did it!"

PRN - Pray Right Now, it is surgery day. Love ya, Don

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pool of Siloam - being sent!

The cultural milieu of John 9:1-12 is Jewish. That is to say the text has a combination of individual perceptions of politics and intentions as well as the community of persons perceptions of politics and under the influence of social culture of the Jews. There were some Greco-Roman influences in the time period, but in this text we only see evidences of the Jewish culture and its traditions. Thus, I have chosen to focus this study on the Pool of Siloam.


Waterways were very important in the ancient cultures. Just as in today, we need a fresh supply of water for the basic needs of life: to drink, to cook, to clean, and to bath. In our text of John 9, we learn that Jesus uses water to test the blind man’s faith. The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land states of a pool:

In prehistoric and early historic times man was very limited in his choice of sites for dwelling places, since he had to be in the immediate vicinity of permanent sources of water such as rivers, springs or freshwater lakes. But he learned at an early date to excavate cisterns in order to store water for long periods, thus greatly increasing the number of places where he could settle. In the biblical period, however, rivers, lakes and springs were still the most important sources of water, though artificial devices gradually came into use.1

The pool of our text has a great deal of historical significance and it was well known for providing for the well being of the community around it.


It should also be noted that it took a great deal of effort to collect water in the Palestinian region. The geographical location is well known for being a dessert like terrain even today. In the early New Testament time period things were not much different. The New Bible Dictionary described the work that went into the collection of such water. It states, “During the summer, water which had collected in pools during the winter and spring formed an important source of supply. The ability to collect and keep water in artificial pools enabled the Israelites to settle uninhabited parts of Palestine (*Cistern). Artificial pools were dug inside walled cities (the *Moabite Stone records one) often fed through a tunnel leading from a spring outside, ensuring a supply in time of siege”2 Thus, unlike our modern culture of running water through a focet in the kitchen or restroom, the people of this culture understood the necessity of water and the work that it took to get a pool.


Many pools were made of tunnels and used to flow water to a larger group of people. Siloam was no different. Siloam can also be known as Shiloah or translated as sent.3 Siloam was is recorded in the New Bible Dictionary as:

One of the principal sources of water supply to Jerusalem was the intermittent pool of Gihon (‘Virgin’s Fountain’) below the Fountain Gate (Ne. 3:15) and ESE of the city. This fed water along an open canal, which flowed slowly along the SE slopes, called šilôa (‘Sender’; lxx Silōam, Is. 8:6). It followed the line of the later ‘second aqueduct’ (Wilson) which fell only 5 cm in 300 m, discharging into the Lower or Old Pool (mod. Birket el-amra) at the end of the central valley between the walls of the SE and SW hills. It thus ran below ‘the wall of the Pool of Shelah’ (Ne. 3:15) and watered the ‘king’s garden’ on the adjacent slopes.

This Old Pool was probably the ‘Pool of Siloam’ in use in NT times for sick persons and others to wash (Jn. 9:7–11). The ‘Tower of Siloam’ which fell and killed 18 persons—a disaster well known in our Lord’s day (Lk. 13:4)—was probably sited on the Ophel ridge above the pool which, according to Josephus (BJ 5.145), was near the bend of the old wall below Ophlas (Ophel). According to the Talmud (Sukkoth 4. 9), water was drawn from Siloam’s pool in a golden vessel to be carried in procession to the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles.4


Within the Jewish culture, the Pool of Siloam was a significant place. Jesus’ choice to use it for the man to wash the spit/mud combination is interesting to note. Jesus grants the man an opportunity to exercise his faith and follow through with what Jesus told him to do. It worked and the man eyesight was restored. The water did not save him, but that he was willing to be sent and then followed through demonstrated his belief that he could be made to see. The special location of Siloam heightens our appreciation in that we too are sent and need our faith by following through.


Have a great day! Together we can seek out, reach out, and step out on faith to where Jesus is sending us. You know I love ya, Don



1 Negev, A. (1996). The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land (3rd ed.). New York: Prentice Hall Press.

2 Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (941). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

3 Cornwall, Dr. Judson & Smith, Dr. Stelman (1998). The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names. Gainsville, FL.: Bridge-Logos.

4 Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (941). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Whose Fault is it?

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight - John 9:1-12
9 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” (The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Jn 9:1–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

The above passage is the text I am using for my exegetical paper for this semester. Thus, it is on my mind a great deal of the time. It strikes a chord with me because of the special needs of a man and how the question is asked of Jesus who sinned, "He or His Parents?" As a parent to special needs children, I have also had the thought, "What did I do?"

First, the question was a negative. What did I do to have this terrible thing in my life. It is so hard and how can I ever get through it. I remember praying in those first few days, "God, where did you go? We are supposed to be on the same team?"

After some time, I learned the reality of having a special needs child brings great joy into your life. I have learned to enjoy everyday of life and how precious life truly is. When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death and then live the results, you taste the fruit that grows in that dark valley. It is the fruit of new insights on abundance of God's goodness and strength.

Scott Bradford wrote: Jesus’ encounter with a man who was born blind. The disciples ask “Whose sin caused this?” This man’s? Or his parents? Jesus’ dispels the notion: vs. 3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

Jesus heal’s the blind man by making a poltis of saliva and mud, and then instructing the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam. Rev. Ron Gilmer states: “With saliva and mud dripping from his fingers, he caresses a beggar’s face and then watches and waits for him to go Siloam, from whence he returns with clearer vision.” Silva “may seem repulsive” but it has long represented curative powers. “A child burns his fingers and into his mouth it goes…or a child scrapes her arm and wants mommy to kiss it and make it well” What is significant to this text can possibly be lost in translation. For example one translation (NIV) reads “Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes.” The actual word used was “epichrio” (ep-ee-khree-o) “to smear over” or “anoint”. Within this word is the same root that is used in the “Christos” (khris-tos) for Christ which means “Anointed”.

This is then a story about the Anointed One, anointing the eyes of a blind beggar so that he can see. Literally then, He “Christs’ the man’s eyes”. Theologian and author James W. Moore asks the question “Would you like to have your eyes Christed?” The blind man was asked (repeatedly) about who healed you, and even how or why? And of course he gives that response that has become classic: I once was blind but now I see!

Jesus offers the anointing of His love and grace freely. Once you have had the anointing of Jesus, you treasure every aspect of it. Thus, again I ask the question; "What did I ever do to deserve this blessing?" God is glorified! You know I love ya and there will be more to come from John 9! - Don

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Birthday Matthew!




Happy Birthday
to my little buddy,
Matthew Hinz Crane!

SEVEN YEARS OLD TODAY!

You are a treasure beyond words!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Things Above - These are a few of my favorite things!


Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. - Colossians 3:17 (NIV)

Paul tells us to set our minds on things above, as new creatures in Christ. (See Col. 3:1-4.) I became a Christian when I was nine years old but always felt I wasn't showing any great changes in my character -- other than a new habit of Bible study and prayer thanks to a wonderful family, church, and Sunday School teacher. Then I went through a time in college where God showed me what the Holy Spirit has accomplished in my life.

Since then, I take the time to remember what God has done and what He is doing and what he will do. It is in those moments I treasure the gifts of love, mercy, family, children, the Bible, and a healthy church. It is also a time of thanksgiving. God is very gracious. He mercies are new every morning.

Today is a day that I treasure the good things. This blog is two years old and it is one of the things that has taken my relationship with God to a new level. It has also allowed me to meet and discover God's word in a new way with new people . . . you! Join me in never forgetting the great things God has done!

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Mysterious Grace of God

I love this time of year. Yesterday we were able to sit outside and relax after the Colts lost the football game. They played a good game, Texas was just better at it. So, it wasn't so bad. Now outside was awesome with a slight breeze, two beautiful children playing in the yard, and a book to read. It was a perfect Sunday. As I sat there, I recalled something that John Shewell wrote a few years ago:

ON an early autumn day, I looked up from my morning prayer to see myriad colorful leaves falling lazily to earth. As I gloried in and marveled at God's wonderful handiwork, I realized that the falling leaves could symbolize God's grace.

This grace comes to us freely, in God's own time and independent of our merit. The leaves fall because of the properties God has mysteriously given the trees and the earth. Grace comes to us because of the mysterious purposes of God. The twists and turns and shapes and colors of the falling leaves are like the infinite variations of God's grace. Grace manifests itself in us and through us in surprising ways.

The far distance shimmered with ever-changing colors and depth. My mind knew what my eyes could not distinguish, that individual leaves were falling there, just as they were nearby. In a similar way, a heart familiar with God's grace knows that it is everywhere. Infinite, endless, and timeless, grace falls on all of us to change our lives.

In Ephesians 2:8 Paul wrote, "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." The gift is amazing and it carries us through every great Sunday afternoon and every stormy crisis this life has to offer. I praise Him for the grace, for the Fall and for all the love that brings us abundant life.

You know I love ya and enjoy this wonderful season, Don

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Friday Funny - "Walking on Water"

Here is a funny one!
One day a Pastor and a Brother took a Visitor fishing on boat.

Once in the Middle of the lake, the Pastor said" I seem to have forgotten my fishing pole, be right back" and to the visitors amazement stepped out of the boat and walked on top of the water towards the shore.

When he had returned, the Brother said
"I need to use the restroom, be right back"

Again the visitor watched in amazement. Once the Brother returned, not wanting to be outdone, the visitor said " I need to use the restroom too"

As soon as he stepped out of the boat, he sank.

The Pastor nudged the Brother and said "We should have told him where the rocks were"

Happy Weekend! You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Romans 8

I need these words from Romans 8:26-39 (NASB) today...I trust they will bless you as well. Love ya, Don
Our Victory in Christ
26In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;

27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

33Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;

34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, ornakedness, or peril, or sword?

36Just as it is written,
"FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."

37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Being Made ...

I have several irons in the fire...family, church, Worship Choir, Orchestra, trying to adopt our little guy in Chicago, Grad School, getting things ready for winter, the Greenfield Community Chorus new director position, JBC Alumni Association and trying to maintain this blog. Lots of things in the works and some more important than others, yet there is a special need in each one. It has become more and more apparent to me that in order to maintain a good schedule for each of item I must maintain my relationship with God. H. Cecil Pawson in England wrote in my Upper Room devotional this morning:

FEW are called to be leaders like Moses, but all are called to make things; for God who is our maker gave us this instinct. And soon we begin with bricks, sand, and blocks to express this desire.

We were made for full employment. Some make laws; others ships, cars, homes, and gardens. More important, in all our making of things, we are being made ourselves for better or for worse.

Are we consciously working, day by day, in accordance with God's design? In obedience to God's command, Moses rose up early in the morning to be alone with God. The result of his keeping that appointment was the glory of God upon his way and upon his face and knowledge concerning his life's work.

God made this world and saw that it was good. We seek, through Christ, to find and to do God's will in all things in this world that God created. In this way, we help fulfill God's redemptive love and purpose, both in us as individuals and in the world around us.

Even Jesus as God new how important it was to pray and to have connection with God, the Father. In Mark 1:35 we read; "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there." Being connected to God is what I am made for. It is also essential in order to complete the purposes and the goals that are laid out for me.

Striving to be connected to Jesus...you know I love ya, Don

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Funny - "more like a riddle?"

It is Friday and this is a Funny that is more food for thought:

"People want the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the center of attention!"

We chuckle because we know people like that, we pause because many times we are that person.

You know I love ya - have a great weekend!
Don

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

exegesis!?!


I am now a Grad Student. I love every thing about the program and I am already learning new insights and techniques for my study of God's word. It is a thrill to be excited about school again.

One of the things I am learning again is Exegesis. This is not new to me. Exegesis is "the careful historical, literary, and theological analysis of a text." (Elements of Biblical Exegesis by Michael J. Gorman pg. 10.) I learned this as an undergrad. In fact, I had to use these techniques in most of my bible classes. Yet, this time it is different. I am older. I am not in a hurry to get-r-done. I am also at a point that I want to learn and can take the time to absorb the concepts. Being a graduate is different and exhilarating.

I wonder how many of us (Christ-followers) forget the adjective "careful" in our study of God's word. Just this morning I was in a discussion of how God desires us to come to Him and then to be a light to the world around us. The point was that our approach is to leave everything behind and peal away all that we are so all that is left is God. Yet, I don't see this as a biblical concept. The reality is that God desires us to come as we are....with all our baggage, all our emotions, all our hopes and dreams, all of everything that we have. He just says...maybe even pleads, "Come."

Our lack of careful study takes the reader to a place that separates us from the truth. The example above is one of those moments when the cultural thing is to leave everything behind and make our only focus on Jesus in worship. Yes, Jesus is to be our sole focus in worship, yet Jesus never intended us to check our life at the door when we decide to declare His worth in our lives. In contrast, Jesus fully calls for us to bring all our "stuff" with us. That "stuff" defines who we are and allowing Jesus to work through our lives defines our relationship with our Friend and Savior. When our lives are present with us in worship, He is able to address the problems in our lives and celebrate the successes our lives.

In Matthew 11:30 Jesus states, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." It is our task to study His word carefully and allow for His love to bring us to new abundance in life. Take the tools of good exegesis and make them a habit. He is a God that lifts our burdens and shares in our life experience. May we never forget this truth and may we never get so complacent that we take Him for granted.

You know I love ya, Don