Thursday, February 28, 2008

Day of Rest

Where have I witnessed God working lately?
I have been sick (influenza). Now you may be expecting a message about how God healed me, saving me the anguish of this terrible virus. But that is not what he had in mind. I say He had in mind because that is exactly what I had in mind...
Instead I went to see the doctor who prescribed me Tammiflu and put me out of work for four days. Now the Tammiflu does a fantastic job of knocking the flu down to size. I felt much better in about 24 hours, not 100% but better. However a combination of the Tammiflu and the still active influenza made me drowsy and not just a little scatterbrained. And that is really where my lesson began.
The Lord said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction." Exd 24:12
I have heard/ been taught the Idea of taking a sabbath many times. But I recently heard this and it finally stuck, that is it finally made sense to me. God told Moses to “ Come up to me on the mountain and stay here...” What a strange way for God to phrase walking directions. I mean when your on top of the mountain, your on top of the mountain right? But there is something more to it. See God knows the human mind, and so He knows that our nature is to begin planning and preparing our way back down as soon as we get to the top of the mountain. So God knows that in this process Moses won't be mentally present on top of the mountain, and he'll miss it. And God wants Moses to be fully present resting and aware of what God is doing.
So back to me and the Tammiflu...
On the second day I was mentally alert enough to feel like I should be accomplishing something. I mean I have lessons for the youth to write, I have a stack of books I need to have read, I have pod-casts to catch up on, I have disciples to catch up with, I have a blog that needs another entry, e-mails to catch up on, dishes stacking up in the sink, work schedules to write for 40+ employees, a new store manager to train... I have a lot on my plate!
But each time I tried to do something, I just couldn't stick with it. My reading was at best schizophrenic with four books and the bible going in one hour alone. I couldn't stand long enough to do any meaningful amount of dishes. The notes I tried to type for my blog were not coherent (not that they always are under normal circumstances). I couldn't concentrate long enough to dig through any significant amount of e-mails. I would loose track of what was being taught in pod-casts... Do you get the idea?
In the mist st of all this my wife was trying to take care of our sick family. She was taking the kids to different doctors appointments, dropping off prescriptions, picking up prescriptions, dispensing medicine, cleaning and disinfecting the house, doing all of the shopping & cooking... All in all she was being super Mom!
So I finally gave up and just sat down on the couch and said “God help me do SOMTHING.” And then it happened... My 18 month old daughter curled up in my lap and just held me, just stayed there with me for I don't know how long. I felt as if God was saying “stay here.” Of all of my children I think she and I have the worst relationship. I know that sounds crazy because she is only 18 months old. But my son and I wrestle and play and have had a lot of alone time in his almost seven years,. And my three year old daughter cooks with me almost daily, invites me to play dolls far to often, and always gets herself involved in what ever I'm doing. But my youngest daughter and I don't have that kind of relationship...
It dawned on me that I was missing it. I felt God slowing me down and saying, “Don't get so caught up in doing that you miss the gifts I have given you.”
So thank you God for influenza!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Myth of the Social Gospel

The social gospel is a myth a boggy man in your closet. For 1500 years there was only one gospel. The social aspects of the gospel are part of a more holistic Christianity. If you find this concept foreign try reading the writings of the early church fathers.

After the Apostle Paul presented his understanding of the gospel to the church leaders in Jerusalem, the only thing they asked was that he continue to remember the poor (which he was already eager to do). Christians in Rome took it upon themselves to rescue newborns routinely abandoned in the city dumps, and it was Christians who finally succeeded in putting an end to the gladiatorial games.

And so it has gone on for almost 20 centuries Christians taking up the causes of the weak and oppressed. Christians led the fight to end slavery, first in Europe then in the United States. Christians led the fight for civil liberties. Christians are currently fighting slavery in India and Asia.

But in the last 500 or so years there is a growing movement among Christians (most predominately in the west) to separate the message of Jesus. They have developed a personal salvation plan, and tried to over look the rest of the message. Probably because it is easier to live a life of comfort, most likely because it politically suited their personal needs. I find this so sad because even a cursory reading of the gospels dispels this myth.

Jesus announced the start of his ministry in Luk 4:17 . Why did he say he had come?
Now I know what the greatest the greatest Bible expositors, commentators, and Theologians of modern generations say. They will tell you Jesus is speaking of the spiritually poor and spiritually blind, and those oppressed by sin. Which in and of itself is true but is only part of the message... When John the Baptist sends one of his followers to ask Jesus if he is “the one” What is Jesus reply? Luk 7:20
And look at Mat 25:31 through 46... This Jesus explaining how he will judge the world. See the same things crop up again and again, and again...
And as it that were not enough to make you wonder... Take a look at how Jesus spent his time here on earth. He was healing the physically sick, living the the physically poor, setting the those held physically captive free. Oh and the end of Jesus mission statement in Luk 4:19 "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.” is a direct reference to jubilee Lev 25:10