I am amazed at human adaptability. I have seen how rapidly the heart clings to what brings it the most happiness. What saddens me is when I see hearts that cling to “false lovers” which both destroys itself and others. A false lover promises escape and excitement; it is fantasy not rooted in reality. False lovers are destructive to our souls because they pull us away from giving God the affection He deserves.
I have found that I am able to enjoy God in what I do by recognizing that it is because of Him that I live and have the freedom of action to pursue true joy. Joy stands in contrast to happiness. Joy is everlasting fulfillment. True joy is enjoying life by knowing Christ and accepting the free gift of eternal life. He is living proof that I am free and do not have to live in the destructive ways of the past. I am not to escape reality. I must engage reality and make a difference for the glory of God.
Fantasy: You’re in control of your destiny. Pursuing what brings you temporary happiness will bring you everlasting fulfillment.
Reality: We live in a fragmented, broken, hurting, murky cesspool of a world. We are Christ’s by faith alone. He calls us to be present to this world and show people the surpassing greatness of Him. We are to make a difference. It’s all about God and He deserves our highest affections.
Let us examine ourselves. (1) Am I living in fantasy or reality? (2) What are my “false lovers”? (3) How can I better be present to others and speak order into our broken world?
"And contrary to the very naïve and
simplistic response that the way out of
that dilemma [what is truth] is to view things with your
heart rather than your head, the truth of
the matter is even the head and heart
together don’t solve the problem."
Dr. Glenn Kreider, lecture on “what is truth”
"The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart — it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that benefits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice — it does not so much nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask."
I don’t like writing to share thing more personally. Nonetheless, I will. I admit that the idea seems feminine… Upon further thought, it is not. All I need is look back to the warrior-poets that came before me. The men of my mothers blood, Samurai. Dedication, action, and creativity.
Seeing that there is encouragement to the community of faith I do life with, I continue my discourse. I have found that life does not get any easier as I have matured into manhood. I believe there are more challenges, greater commitments, and responsibilities awaiting every man as he moves into maturity. Life together in community with friends and family will never be some utopian bliss. Conflict is inevitable and you must take action resolve it. Love those near to you as best you can while setting healthy boundaries.
I have lately been moved by the power of words. I’ll try:
Expectations and demands are tumultuous waves for a man. He never escapes them as they crash into salty foam and welcome the others behind to follow suit. Standing, swimming, or surmising. Taste and see- welcome to the ocean. Vast and open; more is coming. You have yet to have a course in navigation. Follow or fall behind.
Questions of truth, love, and war falling secondary to passions; finding what brings joy, yet ignoring the source which illuminates all objects of affection.
Those around will justify themselves as a clown convinces himself that he is a therapist.
That rational man died. Welcome back mystery and awe! For you never left!
I have been blessed with some of the greatest friends. It seems that all these things came as a sweetener simply by serving and loving people. I serve people because I see Christ transform lives through love. Pouring into others lives. That’s what i’m about.
The term “theology” is one that is often viewed as if through murky water. To many, merely mentioning this term evokes negative emotional responses, pride, or confusion. I posit that what fuels most negative responses to theology is an insufficient understanding of what it entails and how it applies to individuals. Considering the impact that theology has on individual members of the body of Christ and the world, theology is a most crucial term which must be defined in order to understand its role for all people.
Theology is a dynamic and multidimensional discipline; it is ultimately a human endeavor to explain and apply what can be known about the one true God and His creation through observing and synthesizing the sources in which He has chosen to reveal Himself. Evangelical theologian John Stott says that theology: “…Remains a rich, multidimensional discipline, which demands a cluster of complementary responsibilities.” Theology then is a disciplined responsibility for every person who has faith in Jesus Christ. Theology is a means to knowing God in a deeper and more personal way; it is essential to our understanding of how we are to live as Christ followers.
Finite creation cannot fully know the infinite. Humans are finite beings who attempt (implicitly or explicitly) to understand God’s revelation and in doing so engage in the discipline of theology. Therefore, as finite creation responding to revelation, we are prone to making mistakes in collecting the facts about God and or presenting them. Consequently, no theology is perfect; as a body of knowledge, theology is constantly undergoing doctrinal development. The theology which is most correct is that which is accurate to the primary source of God’s revelation: the Holy Bible. This begs the question, what is the best approach to theology?
Systematic theology is one such approach to the discipline of theology. Systematic theology is an approach of theology which attempts to explain and apply revelation from the one true God from any and every source. It is an effort to present truths about Him and His creation in a organized, logical, culturally contextualized format. It is a preferred method of approaching the discipline of theology because it is not limited to one source (e.g. the bible, tradition, history, or experience) as some other approaches to theology are. If a systematic theology is to be biblical, all other sources within that theology must concur with the bible since it is the primary source of God’s revelation to humanity.
Why does theology matter? It does so because all people do theology in some capacity. All people have some sort of understanding about God. For example, one person may believe in God and another may not. To have faith in God or to profess no faith in Him requires an individual response to divine revelation. A response to revelation is in the scope of theology. Theology addresses existential questions about the purpose of man and God’s creation. Theology points us to a deeper knowing of God through Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John poignantly records that Jesus is the truth and is the only way to know God. In closing, theology is a human response to divine revelation which presses us deeper into knowing the Savior by analyzing, synthesizing, and applying the various sources of divine revelation.
John Stott, “Theology: A Multidimensional Discipline” in Doing theology for the People of God (Leicester: IVP, 1996) p. 4
Craig A. Blaising, “Developing Dispensationalism, Part 1: Doctrinal Development in Orthodoxy.” Bibliotheca Sacra 145 (1988; 2002): p 133-140.
Observation: a critically missed element of bible study
Observation is hard to accomplish because of the amount of influence the culture in which we are brought up in has on us; but does not neglect our individual responsibility for our responses to what influences us. May everything we do in life be God honoring.
Why is observation so difficult? I submit to you a poignant example: I for one have been conditioned for distraction and fragmented thoughts in an age of news tickers, Facebook and Twitter. I must add observation is difficult considering that my mind immediately wants to jump to interpretations or discovering what the text means. No doubt it is difficult to just “slow down” and observe the text and let it speak for itself.
Observation is neglected in our culture because our society puts much trust in media messages and values getting quick results with less emphasis on process. Observation and process is generally looked over in the work culture of many office environments in light of encroaching deadlines and immediate deliverables. Influences such as these permeate to our individual walks with God, namely in our study of the Bible. Most people, including myself, want immediate results and fruit without doing the work. It will require prayer and discipline to discover the gems within scripture.
Without process and method it is too easy to misinterpret or manipulate that which is stated by the author influenced by the divine Author. Therefore, we must apply a historical-litteral-grammatical approach to our study of scripture beginning with observation.
Today I had a Marine at work say to me, “Look up, there ‘aint nothing on that ground.”
This resonated with me. A man is not to live his life looking to the ground. Looking up exudes confidence and direction. Bold direction and focused effort exemplify a driven man. But what is it that we look up towards and what is a man driven by? Perhaps it is career aspirations, education, treasures, or family.
Could it be that these are all are good gifts from a God who loves us? Could it be that what drives us are daily reminders of our passions or insecurities- that we have life to live and dreams to labor for- and that there has to be something more in life than merely pursuing pleasure? Let us look past the immediate and see beyond the veil to the God who gives. Good gifts are vanity if used as ends to themselves; how much more beautiful are gifts when we know why they were given. Honor the giver with your life, love and actions.
Love the Brotherhood // Thoughts for Men
For a working guy rest is sacrifice. To rest is to both maintain responsibility and have the discipline to say “no” to additional demands from work, commitments and people. The culture which I am brought up in says “work hard” and do more/burn out to get what you want.
Why would anyone encourage another to expend so much effort and emotion so that they are not sustainably functional? Burning out is by far the most foolish move a man can make. I say get what needs to be done and rest.
Feed yourself so you can feed others. But you can’t rest unless you’re working for something.
Love the brotherhood. 1 Peter 2:17.
"I am sorry I can say nothing more consoling to you, for love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams. Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all."
Elder, The Brothers Karamazov pg. 55
Engaging in community means that you suffer for the sake of others. It is a laying down of rights. It means you will be needed and will need others. The deeper you engage with people the more you can reasonably expect to give in regards to time, emotions, and love. All this because you care for others. This is a biblical concept exemplified by Jesus.
People avoid community because they hold onto prized possessions that define the meaning of their life. I have seen many men reject the kind of community I’m talking about because they don’t want it- the cost is too great. It means life change. Change is rarely comfortable, right? Is it not easier to find any sort of trivial objection to avoid a community based on sacrificial love if you don’t want it? Objections are easier than answering questions of what you believe and what defines you; objections in themselves advance individuals nowhere. I yearn for and give my life for a community of men and women, the church1,that follows Jesus rather than self centered desires.
I believe that living out Christ’s commands and commission provides a man with true purpose and enables him to have the greatest impact on others during the brevity of his life (John 13:34-35, Matthew 28:19-20).
For your encouragement & with love,
Uncle Bobby B
Col 4:5-6, Phil 4:4-8
- 1.Not the church you may see through self placed colored lenses of fundamentalist stereotypes or “christian” hate mongers in media coverage. Wicked people will use anything as a pretext to gain or hold power, e.g. the crusades. With that said people are the problem- not Christians or the church. So object and complain all you want about the church but you are striking a straw man. Know that people manipulate and take regardless of their philosophical conviction because they’re human. If you disagree with me history subverts your objections at every turn. Humanity has a fatal flaw and it is hereditary sin.