Friday, April 20, 2018

Christ in Genesis (pt. 2)

FIRST WORDS
To My Friends, Colleagues, Church Fellowship, Curious People everywhere and especially my Grandchildren,
Always know that you are fully loved by God and you are loved by me. I pray that you remember our purpose is to reflect the entire Glory of God.

OBEDIENCE TO GOD
God in Christ, calling Abraham (Abram), marks the beginning of a conversation we can have about obedience and faithfulness.  Abraham leaves his home with his family and travels to a land God has promised to give him.  With this land comes the promise of descendants and a family that will fill the land.  From that area Abraham will bless the entire world.  There are, however, a few "if's" in this promise.

Abraham actually had to go where God called him to go and do what God called him to do.  The mark of obedience will be circumcision. (Gen. 17)  By this act, God (and the world) will know that Abraham and his family were active participants in a covenant that would bless them and bless the world.  Circumcision will become for future generations the mark of the covenant.  This covenant will not end when God comes into the world as Jesus Christ (God Incarnate).  The promise of all God says He will do for Abraham is linked to the new testament through our baptism.  No longer are the people of God required to observe the covenant by circumcision but rather they were to be baptized.  Even in baptism Christ Jesus Himself submits to John so that the sign of the covenant can be fulfilled in the humanity of the Incarnate God (Jesus Christ).

I believe an interesting place to begin a discussion on obedience comes from watching Abraham interact with the world as he tries to be faithful to the covenant of God.  Normal situations in the world happen and Abraham must decide how to handle them.  A Famine occurs in the area God has called Abraham to live.  What is he to do?  Here is a quandary.  Abraham is where God has called him to be and doing what God has called him to do and yet bad things are happening to him.  Is there not a thought in our lives that if we will be faithful to what God has called us to do and where God has called us to be that bad and hurtful things won't happen to us.  That does not seem to be the case for Abraham.  I think he responds the way I might.  He moves to Egypt where they have plenty of food.  Sounds reasonable to me and God actually seems to watch over him.  Abraham is frightened of Pharaoh because Sarah his wife is beautiful.  God warms Pharaoh to behave himself and things work out well for Abraham.  He returns after the famine to his own land a very wealthy man.  Here's the catch for me.  It seems that Abraham is learning a lesson that goes something like this.  I will follow God but when it gets right down to it I will find food and shelter and security in the things of this world.  It is one thing to use common sense and go where it seems prudent to get help.  I would always recommend when you are sick to go to a doctor and let him or her help you recover health.  It is quite another to replace our trust and obedience to God with an assurance that the doctor is the answer.  There is a reckoning for this type of thinking for us and there certainly is a reckoning for Abraham.

In the greatest "test" of obedience I can imagine, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac his "son of the promise".  It is through Isaac that God will give Abraham the descendants and blessing that are promised in the covenant.  Does Abraham trust God enough to surrender what seemed in this world to be the obvious answer to his very real world problem?  The problem was how was Abraham to be blessed with all these generations of children who were to come after him if he couldn't even have one child with Sarah.  God did give him the one child.  Could Abraham now turn around and give that child back to God?  The Test.  Do you trust God or do you trust what the world can give you?  Of course we read that Abraham did not hold even his only son from God and we learn at the same time that God would never even consider asking that of His children.

The issue becomes that this is a back and forth struggle for Abraham and his descendants.  Famine in the land..."run to Egypt".  Isaac is going to have the same challenge and it is going to turn out the same as it did for Abraham.  Here is the catch.  By the time we get to Jacob (who has trouble trusting God himself) we see a resolution.  At the end of Jacob's life he has just been told that Joseph who he thought had been killed years before was still alive.  But we have a problem!  Joseph is living in Egypt and is actually a powerful man being second only to Pharaoh himself.  To top it all off you might guess...there is a famine once again in the land God has given to Jacob as a descendent of Abraham.  Jacob by the time he is an old man has learned his lesson.  Egypt is not the answer.  You no longer move to Egypt if there is a famine you simply send money and trade with Egypt until the famine is ended.  But...if he wants to see his son Joseph he is going to have to go to Egypt.  What are you going to do now?  In his excitement to see his son he begins the journey but in Beersheba he seems to have second thoughts.  He stops and offers sacrifice to God.  In modern day terms, He stops to pray.  He stops and says...what am I thinking.  What does God want?  This has never worked out well for us.  I'm not sure I should be going to Egypt.  Now that is faith.  Hard earned wisdom.  Is this really what God wants me to do.  Jacob is rewarded!!  In Genesis 46:2 God speaks to Jacob.

"I am God, the God of your father.  Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there.  I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again."

OBEDIENCE IS HONORED!!!

If I can leave you with one word of encouragement this week, let it be this.  It may take a lot of trial and error to figure out the things and places of the world that we tend to trust more than Christ, but the battle to learn is worth the pain of the fight.  I pray that we like Jacob will all reach a point, even as we begin that journey to Egypt or we begin that process of looking to the world for answers, that we stop and in prayer to turn our hearts to Christ.  Why?  Not because we are so wise and faithful but rather because we have witnessed time and again in our lives the difference it makes when Christ is with us on the journey.  The difference between the faithfulness of Abraham and the faithfulness of Jacob is that Abraham learns no matter where he goes Christ will show up and Jacob learns it is much better to have Christ with you where you are going.  Never forget that the expression of God that Abraham encountered is no less than Christ before He became incarnate in this world.  The same God in Christ that walked with Jacob is the same God in Jesus Christ that walks with us.

Yol Bolsun,
Tim

Friday, April 13, 2018

Christ in Genesis (pt. 1)

FIRST WORDS
My dear Children,
Always know that you are loved by God, and remember that you are called to reflect the entire Glory of God.

Before I can share some of the places I have experienced and understood Christ in relation to His written word, I must give you a few thoughts to consider as we read God's Word together.

Please allow me to begin with the way I understand the Trinity as the three "expressions" of God in relationship with all of creation.  I do not pretend that this will be clear at this point, but I hope to make this clear as we read and discuss together.  By "expression" I am referring to the way God reveals Himself and is active with us throughout His entire written word and eventually in our individual lives.  As we read together I admit I may change my mind about some of the nuances but I remain concrete in my affirmation of One God revealed to humanity and all creation in three ways or (expressions).

  • The Father
    • Sending Agent
    • Defines the vision and purpose of God
    • Is the sum total of the entire "nature" and "character" of God as it can be intellectually defined
    • All in God that is beyond "word" or "action"
  • The Son
    • Christ (This is the greek word for "Anointed One") - New Testament
    • Messiah (This is the Hebrew word for "Anointed One") - Old Testament
    • Logos (This is the Greek word in the New Testament literally meaning "word")
    • All physical manifestations of God in the world.
      • Incarnate (God in Human form)
      • Theophany (Any appearance of God represented in creation.  Ie..Fire/Smoke..)
    • All physical action God takes in the world
  • Holy spirit
    • God's ability to inhabit or visit upon that which He created with a soul.

CHRIST IN CREATION
The bible begins with these words.  "In the beginning God created..." (Gen. 1).  These words are quickly followed with the "how" of this miraculous feat.  "God said...", in other words "God spoke" all of creation into existence.  This creative expression from God comes through the presence of our Lord and Savior Christ who will one day become the incarnate word Jesus Christ.  Christ is the Logos which creates and brings forth the foundations of the world and all that is created.  John 1:1 will bear witness to this truth.  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God".  John will further bear this out as he will talk about Jesus in relation to "light" and link it back to the creation account when light itself was created through the presence of Christ in the creation process.

One of the most dynamic realities of Christ in creation comes to us with these words from God expressed through Christ.  "And God said (He spoke - word/logos) let Us (Trinity) make man in our image.  In other words we are created to be the image bearers of God as we were created by Christ.  In the fullness and complete nature of the Trinity (Father/Son/Holy Spirit) we are each created to be image bearers of God.  We are created with purpose and vision imprinted upon our souls (The Father).  We are created to bear an anointed and holy image in relation to a Holy God (The Son).  We are created in some way to be a physical presence in this world as we reflect the character and nature of our Creator (The Son).  We are created to be filled with the presence of God through His Holy Spirit (The Holy Spirit).  We are created in the Image of God (The Trinity).  We are the only part of creation who are created with all three expressions of God.

CHRIST AS JUDGEMENT
It has become very popular in our modern world to relegate the judgment of God to a cranky, disgruntled old man who now sits in the shadows of history.  I often hear this old man referred to as the "God of the Old Testament".  Progressive Christians and humanists alike say that if in fact a being like this ever truly existed, we have been well served to have moved beyond this relationship with a harsh, judgmental, bigoted, racist now dottering and cranky old man.  Here is the catch.  If God is changeable then nothing He says, teaches or stands for in His Nature and Character is absolute.  His Nature and His Character can be redefined generation to generation.  This no longer fits the idea that we are to be reflections of a somehow divine image.  The divine image simply becomes a reflection of us and what we believe.  But, if in fact it is true that the same God who created us, is the same God who is worthy to judge us and this God will eventually be the same God who is able to save us, then we must do a better job of understanding what it means for this very God to be one and the same.  It is not a cranky old man sitting in the shadows of history that is the God of curses and wrath in the judgments of Genesis 1-25.  It is in fact none other that Christ Himself that comes looking for Adam and Eve in the garden calling them to account for their sin.  It is Christ who pronounces judgment on Adam, Eve, the Serpent and the earth itself in Genesis 3.  It is Christ who calls Cain to account for the murder of his brother and places the mark of the curse upon him.  It is Christ who looks at His created world and is sorry that He ever created it.  It is Christ who calls down the rain and the wrath from heaven that will destroy all created life with the exception of Noah and his family.  It is Christ who calls down fire from heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  Likewise, it is Christ who currently sits at the right hand of God the Father (the expression of God which tells us His vision and purpose) and will Judge both the living and the dead.  It is this same Christ who will in revelation come once again and break the scrolls to pronounce judgment once again upon all of creation.  It might be popular and make us feel better to relegate judgment to the Father and express only the embracing love of salvation through Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but it is not the truth of scripture.  Judgement is an expression of Christ in our lives and the world that is born from the very first birth pangs of creation itself.  Christ was there, Christ created, and for this reason it is to Christ we must turn for salvation.

CHRIST AS SAVIOR
This is not a study of sin, but to speak of the saving power of Christ we must speak of Genesis 3 and the rebellion of humanity.
SIN
The origin of sin predates Adam and Eve, but the reality of sin in our lives and as an active agent in our lives can be traced directly to the rebellion of Adam and Eve.  The reality of sin as we read the biblical account of "The Fall" in Genesis 3 is that we can never claim we are unaware.  This awareness of "good" and "evil" is in fact the very reason we thought sin looked so appealing.  In Gen. 3:4 Adam and Eve saw that sin was good for wisdom which brought with it the "knowledge of good and evil."  In other words we chose sin because we wanted to be able to decide for ourselves what constituted good and evil.  The word of God in Christ and the written word of Holy Scripture can help us in this messy decision making process, but ultimately we now must decide for ourselves what is good and evil.  Genesis points to this "Fall" as the cause of our separation from God, our tendency to separate from each other and our never failing struggle to keep some kind of boundary between us and the ever increasing reality of evil and sin in this world.  It is this sin which gives rise to the first murder ever recorded in human history. (Gen. 4)  It is this sin which causes God to look upon the world and regret He ever created it. (Gen. 5)  It is this sin that will give rise to the jealousy, greed, sexual depravity and outright rebellion against our purpose of being reflections of our Holy God.  Even after judgment, curses and a flood we watch sin exert its influence as humanity begins to rebuild after the devastation.  The pinnacle of our self seeking nature vs. our God Reflecting purpose comes to the front as we build a city and a tower.  We build the tower, "so that we may make a name for ourselves..." (Gen. 11:4)  We are created to reflect the glory of God and yet the nature of sin that lives in humanity seeks to continually find ways to make a name for ourselves.
SALVATION
The remedy for sin did not begin on the cross of golgotha in the life of Jesus Christ.  The remedy of sin is founded upon the saving work of Christ from the very beginning of the scripture.  In the midst of judgment on the original rebellion God pronounces a prophetic word that the last word had not yet been spoken.  Gen. 3:15 has Christ speaking these words to Satan.  "He (Jesus Christ) (God Incarnate) will crush your head, and you will strike His heel."  Long before Jesus Christ came into the world God in Christ spoke words of life into the reality of sin which would bring forth death and destruction.  Adam and Eve had not yet digested the fruit (that was even as they ate it giving them indigestion) before Christ is speaking the realty of Salvation and Restoration.  In case you think this is just a future reality we watch as Christ continues to bring judgement to bear on sin so that there can always be a place for life and rebirth.  When Cain kills his brother Christ could have destroyed but instead he pronounced judgement and gave him back his life.  When humanity had reached a point where our hearts could no longer conceive a good or holy thought Christ brought judgment into the world to purge sin and bring forth life in the salvation of Noah.  In the ashes of Sodom and Gomorrah we find the life and birth of a world that will be blessed from the descendants of Abraham.

Christ as savior is forever linked to a Holy God that through Christ will pronounce judgment on sin that He might also through Christ bring the reality of salvation and life.  The pinnacle of this will be met in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord and savior.  Grace will always be about God's glory and never about the glory of man.  When you find yourself seeking to make a "name" for yourself, build a home for yourself, have what you want, be "fulfilled" or have your needs "fulfilled" remember that your purpose is to reflect the glory of God.

FIRST TIME EVENTS IN GENESIS

  • First Time God speaks through an angel
    • Gen. 16:7
  • First Time God heals in the bible
    • Gen. 20:17
  • First Time a woman asks to have an answer from God
    • Gen. 25:23

Yol Bolsun,
Tim

Friday, April 6, 2018

Welcome

Friends, colleagues, parishioners and curious people:
Please know how welcome you are and how much I appreciate your presence with me as I begin a new journey into media, my personal faith discovery/growth and a deeper look into the reality and mystery of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Admission of Guilt:
I freely admit and repent that I have been more prone to allow my intellect and curiosity to be challenged by God rather than open my heart to be discipled and loved by God.  I hope to bring both of these together this year as I journey through the bible in message preparation, study and a personal prayer/meditation time where I reveal and open my heart to a deeper relationship with God through the presence of His Holy Spirit expressed through His Son my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Big Breath...  I'm sure that was a run-on sentence, but I'm good with the fact that it expressed my thoughts, hopes and fears.

The Journey:
I am inviting you to read the entire Word of God with me over the next year.  I will be reading 25 chapters each week (5 each day M-F).  Each Sunday that I am in front of the church I will deliver a message on where I have discovered the Expression of God, which scripture calls and we affirm to be our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  In other words, where did I see Christ.  I will write in this blog each Friday morning some of those discoveries.  Here's the thing, I'm going to write this to my grandchildren.  Feel free to comment, affirm, argue, reason or challenge as you see fit, but know that ultimately I want to express for future generations of my family the faith God has placed within my heart and how that faith is grounded and rooted in Jesus Christ as He is revealed in the Holy Word of God.

Prisca Theologia:
For anyone who is curious about the blog title let me explain.  In a very rough way this translates to mean "Ancient Faith".  I have chosen this name because it reflects my belief in the ideas of our faith that are reflected in the ancient creeds of the church.  For my peers who might find this a bit strange from me, take heart,  I am not a neoplatonist and I do not agree with the ways most in history have labeled this "ancient faith".  I do, however, believe there is an ancient faith that was given to us by God as He reveled Himself through the witness of His Word.   In particular, I hold the Nicene Creed to be the bedrock of my expressed belief in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty"

Yol Bolsun (may there be a road),
Tim