Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Should I Do?

The short answer to the title question - LOVE PEOPLE. We have no other option as Christians...

In this past Sunday's sermon a few examples from church history were given concerning what forms loving people has taken. I "wish" I knew more history...it is so informative, so humbling, so challenging, so inspiring...

Also on Sunday I talked some about a Greek word, sodzo, which is often translated as "salvation" in the New Testament. Far too often many Christians think of salvation as some sort of future event for our souls. While there is some truth to that, it does not do justice to the the biblical portrait of salvation.

In a very broad sense, salvation can be seen as "spiritual" and "physical" in the Bible. Now, before I go further it is vital to understand a few things about how language works. Very simply stated, the context a word finds itself in determines its meaning in that setting. This is a reason why dictionaries have numerous definitions for a single word. In every day language no one attributes all possible meanings for "word" when I say I looked up the word equivocate in the dictionary. or May I have a word with you? The same "word" - but two totally different meanings. This is how language works...

With that said, the portrait the Bible paints concerning "salvation" is beautiful. Ultimately all the "bad" stuff will be gone as we live fully and unhinderedly in the presence of God. Yet we live with an "already and not yet" aspect to our faith. E.g., we may already be saved from our sins (e.g., they are not counted against us) but sin still affects us (e.g., choices of others harm us, our own bad choices, etc.) - this is the not yet portion.

Taking these truths (i.e., how language works and the "already and not yet") and applying them to "salvation" (for our purposes, sodzo) is mind-boggling. In Mark alone the Greek word occurs 14 times; three of them are clearly "spiritual" in meaning (cf. Mk8:35b; 10:26; 13:13), 11 of them are "physical" in meaning (cf. Mk3:4; 5:23,28,34; 6:56; 8:35a; 10:52; 13:20; 15:30,31,31). So clearly we see "salvation" is intended to be holistic. This is vital to understand as we love people.

E.g., the "bleeding" woman in Mark 5 desired to be "made well" (5:28 - ESV) - using the Greek word sodzo. Later, after she touched Jesus' clothing and her bleeding stopped, Jesus said her faith "made her well" - using the Greek word sodzo. Remember, this word sodzo is used frequently to talk about "salvation" in the more commonly thought of sense - spiritually (e.g., Mt1:21). What are we to make of this?

While trying to not lengthen this too much, we can see how the "bleeding woman" was in fact "saved" in a holistic sense because prior to this contact with Jesus she was alientated from all forms of community for 12 years. Most certainly we would agree community with God and and others is a huge part of salvation.

So a question to us is...how will we "save" people? LET ME BE CLEAR...only God saves in the ultimate sense of the word. Yet when we look at the concept of salvation we see so much we can and must do... Initiating a friendship with someone and providing them a community that loves them is a part of "saving" them. Again, this is because we were made for community and not isolation. Furthermore, the community we initiate can play a part in allowing God to continue to work in a person's life as they submit to Him and are thuse "saved" in the spiritual (ultimate) sense.

Questions, thoughts, observations (both the word sodzo and the sermon from Sunday)?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who Am I?

There are a handful of questions we cannot afford to get wrong in this life. But now as I ponder that question "on the fly" I wonder if there are really only two 1) Who is God? and 2) Who am I?

The reason Who am I? is such an important question is because when we figure out who we are, the rest of life's questions (will eventually) fall into place/are answered...provided "who we are" becomes Our Identity that is.

I should have been blogging each week for this current sermon series titled (you guessed it) Who am I?) but alas I have not. Perhaps in the future I will wake up to what I ought to do with this blog...but until then I have to try and fill in gaps here and there.

As I have been upfront in the sermon series, I will be upfront with this blog entry. The concept I am following has been and is being taught by Shane J. Wood at Ozark Christian College. In "The Christian Life" class Shane structures the Christian Life (i.e., what followers of Jesus are called to live because of who they are) around the following chiasm. (Note: the chiasm may not be his exact words, but the concept(s) is/are the same.) (ANOTHER NOTE: unfortunately at this time I cannot get this to work as the chiasm I want on the blog...SO imagine no space between the lines and The Christ's Accomplishments indented further to the right than Jesus' Identity and Our Identity.)

Jesus' Works (words and deeds)
  • Jesus' Identity
  • The Christ's Accomplishments
  • Our Identity
Our Works (words and deeds )

The chiasm (which again does not look how I want it to right now) can also be illustrated like this:
Jesus' Works --> Jesus' Identity --> The Christ's Accomplishments --> Our Identity --> Our Works

The "-->" are intended to be directional arrows, which help us to see Jesus' Works (i.e., what He did and said) inform us about Jesus' Identity (i.e., the significance of Him being Him), and His Identity allowed The Christ's Accomplishments (i.e., the cross and empty tomb/resurrection) to be done. Our Identity flows out of The Christ's Accomplishments (i.e., we are who we are because of what Jesus has done), and Our Identity informs us what Our Works are to be (i.e., what we do and say). If we start with what we think, as Christians, we are to do and say without looking at what Jesus said and did...let's just say that is not good.

I encourage you to ponder the chiasm and flow chart. Ask questions about it. Pray about it. Comment on this blog about it. There is much more I want to say about it...but I at least needed to get this entry done for now.

in Christ - Brent

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Been Too Long...

Hi everyone, sorry it has been too long since I've posted. I have so many thoughts and things I would like to post - but at times (most of the time) I do not make the time to do so, or I shy away from them...

With that said I should have been posting regularly during the last sermon series I did at New Life; it was from the psalms and titled "When God is NOWHERE". The obvious implication of the last word is your perspective...is God a) NOW-here or b) NO-where.

During the series some of the psalms at which we looked were lament psalms (i.e., a song written during a time of hardship in which the author is crying out to One (i.e., God) who can indeed change their situation). I know if I made a more regular practice of reading the psalms, and especially writing my own laments, I would be helped immensely. So, I encouraged us all to write our own laments. A pattern can be found by clicking on http://www.nlccoe.com/resources/devotional-guides-for-sermons/when-god-is-nowhere/ and then selecting the "Devotional Guide" titled "Why..." on 7/4/10.

I may revisit the psalms in some future posts...and even post some laments I wrote (as well as those written by others with their permission). If you would like to write your own lament please feel free to "comment" and do so.

Also please note this is not a vanity thing of "listen to my sermons" (I know I am not the best preacher)...BUT it is a plea to utilize God's Word for our continued sanctification. I believe the psalms can be a great help in this. And just maybe something you hear or read (by way of the Devotional Guides) may be of help. One thing we must do is realize we can be honest with God...and we need to be too.