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Archive for February, 2005

New English Standard Version Site

Crossway launches a new ESV site.

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New English Standard Version Site

Crossway launches a new ESV site.

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In the FoxHole, Part VIII
Avoiding a Monomaniacal Focus

In the FoxHole, part I – Strength before StrengthI
In the FoxHole, part II – Pain as Teacher
I
In the FoxHole, part III – Waiting

In the FoxHole, Part IV – Strength in Christ

In the FoxHole, Part V – Learned Optimism
In the FoxHole, Part VI – Abiding in the Vine
In the FoxHole, Part VII – Practising His Presence

For the first two years of my undergrad career, I went to Virginia Tech. I remember once after finishing exams that I realized that there was one thing that I appreciated about exams: When you are in the middle of exams, life becomes very simple. You have to study and take tests. All of your life is organized around those two priorities. Sometimes when I finished Exam Week I would get depressed, and the reason was that as soon as the pressure of exams were off I would have to face the rest of my life.

There’s a deceptively great inner convenience in collapsing life down to the resolution of one lifeproblem.

Everything will be all right when…

  • i finally get a girlfriend,
  • i finally get married,
  • i finally defeat this disease,
  • i finally get out of debt,
  • i finally get a job,
  • [fill in your own blank].

This week after blogging on what I see as three Johannine thoughtthreads emphasized in his Abiding in Vine meme, 1) a radical belief in Jesus, 2) accepting his magnificent love for us, and then 3) loving others, I was struck by my need today to do 3). I must be about loving others right now and not just as soon as God gives us deliverance from our current trial.

And I realized I had collapsed life down to this one issue. As large as the issue is, I realized and am realizing that I have let it become too important to me – that I had begun to organize most of thoughts and life around it.

When we do that, we set up the illusion of our independence, our sufficiency, and our importance.

Many years ago I read a chapter from Love Must be Tough called “Love Toughness for Singles” that I both disliked and appreciated. The author advocates the unmarried as taking a stance toward those of the opposite sex of “I’m going somewhere; I’d love to have you come along because my life will be significant and exciting. But if you don’t, that’s ok – I’m fine; I’m still on my journey.”

What I did not like about the chapter was that, whether the author meant it to or not, that stance came across in the book as a strategy to use that might work, rather than the actual attitude that we should have.

We really do need to have significant, dependent, Godconfidence in the midst of all lifechallenges. That doesn’t mean that we are not scared or that they don’t hurt or that we aren’t worried. It does mean that we are not terrified, completely destroyed, or paralyzed in fear. We are enjoined to “pour out our heart before Him” (Psalm 62:8), but – at the same time – “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:8,9).

Even in the midst of an intense trial, there is a balance to be struck. Even in seasons of chosen imbalance such as the buying of a house, having a new baby, or trying to get a start-up off the ground and into profitability, or when life seems to impose extra focus on some aspect of life such as health when fighting cancer even then we are not to have a monomaniacal focus on the issue at hand.

We must deal with it appropriately in the context of a relationship with a Father Who loves us and a Lord Who has work for us to do in His kingdom. We must avoid setting up our own kingdom that’s focused on one matter alone.

There’s more in the world than my FoxHole.

Read Full Post »

Brian McLaren Book Recommendations

Brian posts some new recommendations in the areas of

History-Culture-Thought

and

Theology/Ministry/Biblical Studies.

Read Full Post »

In the FoxHole, Part VIII
Avoiding a Monomaniacal Focus

In the FoxHole, part I – Strength before StrengthI
In the FoxHole, part II – Pain as Teacher
I
In the FoxHole, part III – Waiting

In the FoxHole, Part IV – Strength in Christ

In the FoxHole, Part V – Learned Optimism
In the FoxHole, Part VI – Abiding in the Vine
In the FoxHole, Part VII – Practising His Presence

For the first two years of my undergrad career, I went to Virginia Tech. I remember once after finishing exams that I realized that there was one thing that I appreciated about exams: When you are in the middle of exams, life becomes very simple. You have to study and take tests. All of your life is organized around those two priorities. Sometimes when I finished Exam Week I would get depressed, and the reason was that as soon as the pressure of exams were off I would have to face the rest of my life.

There’s a deceptively great inner convenience in collapsing life down to the resolution of one lifeproblem.

Everything will be all right when…

  • i finally get a girlfriend,
  • i finally get married,
  • i finally defeat this disease,
  • i finally get out of debt,
  • i finally get a job,
  • [fill in your own blank].

This week after blogging on what I see as three Johannine thoughtthreads emphasized in his Abiding in Vine meme, 1) a radical belief in Jesus, 2) accepting his magnificent love for us, and then 3) loving others, I was struck by my need today to do 3). I must be about loving others right now and not just as soon as God gives us deliverance from our current trial.

And I realized I had collapsed life down to this one issue. As large as the issue is, I realized and am realizing that I have let it become too important to me – that I had begun to organize most of thoughts and life around it.

When we do that, we set up the illusion of our independence, our sufficiency, and our importance.

Many years ago I read a chapter from Love Must be Tough called “Love Toughness for Singles” that I both disliked and appreciated. The author advocates the unmarried as taking a stance toward those of the opposite sex of “I’m going somewhere; I’d love to have you come along because my life will be significant and exciting. But if you don’t, that’s ok – I’m fine; I’m still on my journey.”

What I did not like about the chapter was that, whether the author meant it to or not, that stance came across in the book as a strategy to use that might work, rather than the actual attitude that we should have.

We really do need to have significant, dependent, Godconfidence in the midst of all lifechallenges. That doesn’t mean that we are not scared or that they don’t hurt or that we aren’t worried. It does mean that we are not terrified, completely destroyed, or paralyzed in fear. We are enjoined to “pour out our heart before Him” (Psalm 62:8), but – at the same time – “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:8,9).

Even in the midst of an intense trial, there is a balance to be struck. Even in seasons of chosen imbalance such as the buying of a house, having a new baby, or trying to get a start-up off the ground and into profitability, or when life seems to impose extra focus on some aspect of life such as health when fighting cancer even then we are not to have a monomaniacal focus on the issue at hand.

We must deal with it appropriately in the context of a relationship with a Father Who loves us and a Lord Who has work for us to do in His kingdom. We must avoid setting up our own kingdom that’s focused on one matter alone.

There’s more in the world than my FoxHole.

Read Full Post »

Brian McLaren Book Recommendations

Brian posts some new recommendations in the areas of

History-Culture-Thought

and

Theology/Ministry/Biblical Studies.

Read Full Post »

In the FoxHole, part VII
Practising God’s Presence

In the FoxHole, part I – Strength before StrengthI
In the FoxHole, part II – Pain as Teacher
I
In the FoxHole, part III – Waiting

In the FoxHole, Part IV – Strength in Christ

In the FoxHole, Part V – Learned Optimism
In the FoxHole, Part VI – Abiding in the Vine

I discovered more evidence that my preoccupation with transpropostionality is part of my effort to challenge my very own stringent propositionality. Longtime readers of emergesque know that I frequently harken back to the Abiding in the Vine theme, of which I blogged again yesterday. Some days ago, I realized that I think more about the concept of Abiding in the Vine than I do about the Vine Himself. This led me to think about God’s actual presence with me and to realize that God is with me in the moment. God is present with me, but it’s up to me if I, as Brother Lawrence wrote, practice the presence of God. I do this sometimes, but not nearly enough. It’s critical to do so, especially when in stressful times.

There are a few passages I turn to to remind me of this importance of this spiritual discipline:

—————————————————————————————

Because God is with us, we can be confident and calm.

Psalm 16:8 (all passages ESV)

8I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

—————————————————————————————

Because God is with us, even as we struggle with pain and worry, we can have a deeper joy that sustains us.

Psalm 16:11

11You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

—————————————————————————————

He is with us at all times – past, present, and future. He directs his thoughts toward us.

Psalm 139:1-18,23,24

1O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.

17How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.


23Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

—————————————————————————————

He is with us always and is the fulfillment of our greatest desire.

Psalm 73:23-28

23Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.
24You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength
of my heart and my portion forever.

27For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Psalm 23

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters.
3He restores my soul.He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

—————————————————————————————

The Lord is as close to us as our shadow. He is our ever-present Protector and Deliverer.

Psalm 121

1I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

—————————————————————————————

Because He is ever with us, we can be content.

Hebrews 13:5,

5Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

We strive to remember His presence; He is with us; He is actually with us this very moment. This brings focus to all our activities. It prioritizes in real time. It balances all our concerns. It gives strength in the battle, perspective in loss, and humility in victory.

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