Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Getting the Little Things Right

Some people see the big picture, and some people see the brush strokes. Sometimes people see too much of one or the other; I firmly believe that the proper view falls somewhere in the middle. Both views find support in Scripture, something which persuades me that the truth encompasses both views in a unique, nonrelativistic way. God has a way of combining two apparently contradictory viewpoints into something that truly shows His glory. This combination not only shows His glory, but, when held in the correct light, makes life easier for His people.

I, in all honesty, look more at the details than at the big picture. This viewpoint is grounded in Scripture. In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of the “dishonest manager,” who had dealt dishonestly with his master's money and goods; he then, before he lost his job, lessened the amount that people owed his master, essentially bribing people to take care of him. At the end of the story, Jesus reveals the point: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11, ESV) This moral is clear: we should “[be] faithful in a very little” and the big things will fall more or less into place. Jesus told another parable with a similar moral in Matthew, where a servant handled his master's money wisely; in the end, the master said to the servant, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23). Clearly, God rewards those who take care of the little jobs and tasks; moreover, He gives more responsibility (and privilege) to those people.

At the same time, the Bible calls us to keep the big picture in mind – the big picture, in this case, depicts what Christians should do during their lives. Jesus clearly outlined the “job description” for Christians in the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Notice that He does not include any specifics there – just generalities. We must look to the rest of Scripture, particularly the New Testament, for guidance about how to fulfill this Commission. The big picture itself is not difficult in the least to understand; working towards it, though, can create a myriad of difficulties if we do not understand all the little details. Therefore, Christians should keep the big picture in mind and also continue to learn the little brush strokes that make the picture a masterpiece.

As Christians, we need to continually remind ourselves about the big picture: its definition, its importance, and its Creator. At the same time, we need to keep learning about the small details of our faith and then apply those details to our lives. When we live as God desires, the problems of life seem to fade in comparison to the joy that exists in doing God's will. God clearly blesses His children and their efforts to do good. If we remain faithful in the little things, the big things naturally fall into place.

Lizzie Spotts

Monday, March 30, 2009

Very God and Very Man

We confess that Jesus is entirely God and entirely man.  This means that we confess he has a true human nature as well as having a true divine nature.  As we approach Easter it's appropriate to give some thought to the implications of that doctrine.  Of course there are enough to fill many theology books.  But I'll try to cobble together a few here.
First, we notice that Jesus at no time left his divine nature behind.  He is uniquely the bearer of two natures at once.  Jesus did not stop being God when he was born as a baby.  He did not leave deity behind.  He bore it along with humanity.  
Second, we notice that on Good Friday, it is quite accurate to say that God died for me on the cross.  Jesus was dead.  Despite the divine nature, he was entirely and completely dead, as dead as any person ever was. 
Third, we realize that the resurrection is not a shedding of the human nature in order to take on pure deity again.  In the resurrection, Jesus remains human and divine.  Humanity is not something evil to be shed like a snake sheds its skin.  No, we don't shed humanity.  We shed sin as we are buried in the death of Christ and raised in newness of life.  We shed sin by faith as we grasp the washing of regeneration.  And in the resurrection to eternal life we don't shed humanity, we leave sin behind entirely.  
Jesus, true man and true God.  Truly.

Hey, keep praying for me, please.  The sick bay report says it all.  I've lost track of how many non-migraine days I've had in recent history.  And I've lost track because the number is so small.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sick Bay Report

Thanks to the various people who have prayed, including those who have encouraged me on-blog and off-blog.  I don't think I've ever been as relieved as the current feeling of going 36 hours without excruciating head pain and dizziness. 
We'll shift the attention of this blog from the dreadfully self-centered to something more helpful.  And while I come up with that, this coming Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, traditionally called "Laetare" from the first word in a reading, "rejoice" points self-consciously to our rejoicing in the freedom and protection our Lord has given us.  I'm ready, or should I say, "Laetemur."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sick Bay Report

Sick Bay Report Update - yet another migraine.

Paul observes that the Lord told him, "My grace is sufficient for you."  This seems to be a time when God's power is going to be made complete in my weakness.  But I always wonder what kind of work he is doing in my life.  We're up to six migraines in the past seven days.  It's worse than ever before.  Surely the Lord is working it for good to me and other believers around me.  In accord with Romans 8.29 he is changing me into his image.  And I think in some small way I'm grasping more of his sufferings.

Quite a savior we have.  I'm tired, sore, and frustrated.  And it's only been a little while.  How long was he walking around here with his divine bliss with the Father set aside?  What kind of sufferings did he endure?  Wow, quite a savior.

Sick Bay Report

Migraines in past seven days: 5

Ship's cat seems recovered from some sort of illness that had him down for a few days.

No report on other crew.  Communications Officer Lizzie is on remote assignment with Cap'n Richmond.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sick Bay

Migraine instances in the past seven days: 3



I was in a ballet class some months ago when the instructor was making observations about hyperextended joints - those joints which we straighten and then tend to turn slightly in the other direction.  My knees are a little hyperextended.  Sometimes it hurts since those joints aren't really as strong as the joints which don't hyperextend are.  After all, our joints are only meant to bend one direction.
I was thinking about this as I was putting on a knee brace so as to make it more bearable to walk up stairs recently.  It isn't just my joints that are hyperextended.  And it isn't just my life which is quite stretched.  I think there's something about our society which is hyperextended.  Our economy did it.  Our legal system seems to be doing it.  Our families and communities are hyperextended.  And so are many of our churches.
While hyerextension in our society in general is dangerous, tending toward eventual economic collapse, unemployment, and inflation, I would venture to say the same characteristics within our churches are even more dangerous.  How many times have we found ourselves in a faith of doing rather than a faith of being?  What have you done to show you are a real disciple of Christ?  How many Bible studies do you attend on a weekly basis?  How many accountability partners do you have?  Did you have breakfast with someone to talk about Scripture and pray once or twice this week?  How many committees do you sit on in your local church?  Are you committed to personal and family devotionals on a daily basis?  Are you maintaining a prayer list for the people in your congregation and other people you know of who are involved in vocational ministry?  How many people have you witnessed to for Christ?
Do we see that ultimately this ends up as a faith of works, rather than a work of faith?  Do we see that we end up looking for deliverance by our works and not by God's grace appropriated by faith?
I think that's somewhere that Cap'n Salty and the Marmoset are trying to sail away from.  Yet in every port of call we find it is the norm, not the exception.  And whenever we look into ourselves we see the very same attitudes.  It's just that in the Scripture we don't find those attitudes.  A biblical Christian life is a life of being.  The doing does happen but it isn't the primary feature.  The being is the primary feature.
Want to do something?  Go and be someone.

Dave Spotts
blogging at http://capnsaltyslongvoyage.blogspot.com and http://alex-kirk.blogspot.com