Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gospel According to John


“By far the most important development in recent studies on the fourth gospel is the application of various forms of literary criticism, social-scientific analysis, and post-modern readings...The tendency in all of these approaches is to treat the text synchronously, that is, to treat the text as a finished product and to ask virtually no questions about its historical development or its referents.” There are benefits and losses in this type of modern study. A benefit is a refreshing look at the text while removing traditions that hinder the study. The loss is the study looses it look into the beginnings or the historical accuracy.

John is historically accurate in the it has a focus on the dynamics of presenting a witness of the Son of God in Jesus. John seeks to answer the social-textual questioning of “what happened.” In a modern sense, we must not loose sight of the intentional testimony of John to “write down these things so that the reader might believe Jesus is the Messiah.”

The Gospel of John is worth taking a good look at. I strongly suggest it. As it is read the words bring to life how Jesus is the Messiah.

"This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written." John 21:24-25 NASB.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, September 26, 2011

The "rule"


The New Testament text was passed along or copied by eager converts to have the written words of their teachers. The autographs were lost because of the organic materials the words were written on (Parchment). Thus, documents were then copied and the texts were spreading through out the region very quickly. As the church grew there was a need to establish a “canon” or group of texts that have authority or the ability to rule over the others. Thus, the books were reviewed by church leaders and given authority by specific criteria. Some of the criteria was asking the authority of the author, eyewitness or to be heard directly from an eyewitness, and the application to the Christian life. As more and more Gentiles were converted, the community of believers became more and more pluralistic and a need arose to condemn minor variations. These debates and declarations truly helped the church clarify its doctrines, it also point out serious threats, such as Gnosticism.

There would be many more threats to the New Testament and the the church, but over the first two-three hundred years the New Testament Canon (Rule) of books was established through a set criteria. This criteria would also face opposition at times and even today there are variations on the “rule” of the books. Yet, in all the threats, the scripture emerged and has an authority so that the reader can be confident it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Critical thought of the scriptures has always been present among believers. Political changes often affected the spreading of the texts and how the texts were often translated to Latin in response the Roman world and its leadership. As Christianity became culturally desirable, leadership among the groups of believers rose. The leadership started to gather on occasions and these gatherings were labeled as councils. During the councils the leadership would discuss and interpret conflict with in the texts, such as the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.

I am in a Graduate Class at Johnson University discussing an Introduction to the New Testament. The professor is Carl Bridges. I am enjoying the research and work. The question of the day is, "do you read the rule?" or maybe another way of stating it is, "Do you (& me) allow the rule of the scriptures to rule in our lives?"

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.- Colossians 3:15-16

You know I love ya, Don

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Funny - You mean to tell me...


We have not had a Friday Funny in awhile...I thought I would share this one from the sermon last Sunday...

"The photographer for a National Magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene was too thick to get any good shots, so he frantically called his home office to hire a plane. "It will be waiting for you at the airport!" he was assured by his editor.

As soon as he got to the small, rural airport, sure enough, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled "Let's go Let's go!" The pilot swung the plane into the wind and soon they were in the air.

"Fly over the North side of the fire," said the photographer, "and make three or four low level passes." "Why?" asked the pilot. "Because I'm going to take pictures! I'm a photographer, and photographers take pictures!" said the photographer with great exasperation and impatience.

After a long pause the pilot said, "You mean you're not the instructor?"

Happy Friday and have a great weekend! Don

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I want to KNOW!


"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'.” John 8:31-32


The results of hold on to the truth is learning and knowing Jesus. Knowing the Truth comes as we hold on to the teachings of Jesus. The definition of knowing is to perceive directly. It is to grasp with the mind clarity and certainty. Knowing is experience and awareness.

We know Jesus when He becomes real in our lives, in our hearts, and in the holding on to His teachings. As we stay the course and are suspended over the cliffs and valleys of life... knowing what is holding us and what we are holding on to becomes much more real. It is the truth that gives us life...when we GROW in Jesus and GROW in His teachings that awareness only enhances our knowledge of Him...that knowledge then sets us free from the bondage of this world and we have peace with abundant life.

Let me ask you...do you know Jesus? Is He real in your life? Do you have an awareness of Jesus that permeates the very fibers of your being?

How does Jesus become real? When a believer holds, abides in, and cherishes Jesus' teachings. Paul writes it this way in Philippians 3:10, I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

Looking to KNOW Jesus more, Don


Monday, September 19, 2011

Holding on as if my life depends on it!


"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'.” John 8:31-32


What was Jesus teaching?

1. Love God – Jesus was asked, “What was the greatest commandment?” He tells us that the greatest commandment is to Love God. Jesus teaches us that salvation comes from faith in God and living out that faith. If you love God, study His scriptures, pray to Him and listen to His Spirit within you...then you are loving God and He loves us in return. Loving God is a relationship.

2. Love Each Other – He turned to them and said the second command is to love each other. Jesus taught we are to give to each other on a regular basis. We are to help a person in need. Helping may simply holding a door or taking a meal to a neighbor. Helping and loving others could be offering to watch a person's children, teaching a Sunday School class, or offering to pay for a person's meal. Loving each other is leaving a bigger tip for a waiter or waitress. Loving others is to pray for others, to visit the elderly and care for children.

3. Jesus then taught us that all the other laws can be summed up in the first two.

Let me ask you...do you hold on to Jesus' teachings? I am striving to hold so tightly to Jesus' teaching that you will see the grip marks in the hands of my life.

Hebrews 10:23 records it this way: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”


Holding tightly, Don

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Where my help comes from!

“A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2 NIV


Monday, September 12, 2011

Devoted!


"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles." - Acts 2:42-43

When I was in college these two verses were required memory work. Acts 2:42-43 is often said to be the motto of the Church. It can also be said Apostles' teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayer is a perfect outline for a worship service. However you read the verse, it is important for the Christ-follower.

What is the action word in the passage? After reading it again, we see the word is "devoted." What does that mean to you or to me? The free dictionary defines devoted as, "Feeling or displaying strong affection or attachment; ardent: a devoted friend. Having been consecrated; dedicated." Thus, as Christ-followers we should have a devotion that displays affection, attachment, and dedication to the Apostle's teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.

The church doesn't seem to be as dogmatic as we once were about devotion. I grew up being encouraged to have daily devotions with God. That is reading and praying on a daily basis. Today, we call it "quiet time with God." Not that quiet time with God is bad, it just makes it less strategic or intentional. You might even say that it is sensitive to the person...yet what does it truly say to the one we are devoted to?

I know I desire to be more devoted. Devotion takes work and dedication. Being a devoted Christian is also hard because of the interruptions that come everyday. This blog has been a great asset for me to layout my daily devotions on a public scale. It is my prayer that as you read these words, you might also become more devoted.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Holding on to be "Set Free"


"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." - John 8:32

Truth...what is truth? Men and women have been asking this question through the ages. Pilot asked Jesus this same question at the trial. Dictionary.com states truth as, "Verified Absolute Fact."

Did you know that in 1828 Noah Webster's dictionary gave this as an example when defining truth: "to rely on the truth of spiritual prophecies." Webster seemed to think that spiritual prophecies were based on truth. Today, the many people in the world believe truth to be relative. They feel each person can have their own version of the truth - that there is no ONE truth out there.

Jesus said he came to bear witness and to affirm the truth. What truth was He talking about? In the book of John alone, truth is mentioned 50 times. It seems like it was important to Him and that it should be important to us.

We as Christians are to believe that The Word of God is Truth. And according to the definition of the word truth, we are to view the Bible as fact and reality. The scriptures are God revealing Himself to us. Thus, the ancient texts are revelation of God in Jesus. Jesus is the truth along with the teachings He brought to reality and the teachings of the prophets before Him. When Jesus said to know the truth and the truth will set us free, He was pointing at Himself. Jesus is God revealed.

I wonder how many Christians "know" the truth? Knowing and being aware are two very different things. I am aware of President Obama, yet I do not know Him. I am aware of the African continent, but I do not know it. I am aware of skydiving, but I have never experienced it. Every Christ-follower can "know" Jesus. God can be known beyond being aware of Jesus. He desires a relationship with us. Thus, in the knowing Jesus a person can be set free.

"All knowing God, thank you for the revelation and the scriptures that bring life. Thank you for allowing me the freedom to live in a country that allows me to study the texts freely. Please help me to treasure the truth and know You in a way others will see you in me. Amen."

I know and I am set free...you know I love ya, Don


Monday, September 5, 2011

"Hold It!"


"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples'." John 8:31

Have you ever truly held on to something? I had a stuffed Snoopy I held when I was a little boy. I remember holding on to a piece of paper my Grandmother had written a note to me on. I held on to the note for years. In fact, I probably still have the note somewhere in a keepsake box. Grandma wrote a short note on an order ticket when we were eating at a restaurant where she was a cook and it was on my plate when the food arrived.

Then there is the Buffalo nickle my mother gave me a few years ago. I hold on to it and remember seeing it in her jewelry box for many years as I grew up. It reminds me of the security of my Mother's voice.

I vividly recall holding all three of my children for the first time. There was something so special about these little lives. It was a God given gift that I was the father to these very precious lives.

I also recall after my first ear surgery in 2007 and how much pain I was in after surgery. The pain medications were not kicking in and I was in terrible pain. I remember holding Karen's hand and the comfort it gave me while we waited. Karen's physical touch brought a sense of comfort and security.

Jesus said, "if you hold...you are my disciples." In other words we must do more than follow, a Christ-follower must possess the teaching. Karen could have just been in the room, I could have looked at the children through a window, I could have just remembered my mother's coin, and thought about my Grandmother's note but I would not have held them in my hand. The possession gave the weight to the reality.

So, I wonder if Christians truly understand what it means to posses the teachings of Jesus? It means that we must possess the teachings of compassion, of grace, and of love. It means that we are fully committed, even if it means that we have to step out on faith, take a risk, or be challenged in the public arena of life. A Christ-follower will "hold" the teaching of Jesus so close that reading and memorizing the scriptures are a necessity of living. The holding of the Biblical teaching is possession and reality of the teaching in actions that are demonstrated.

"Almighty God, Thank you for the teachings. Thank you for revealing yourself to us when we ask. Please help me possess the teachings and hold them close so that others might know I love you. Amen."

You know I love ya and I hold you close to, Don