Sunday, December 7, 2008

Back to blogging

Well, it has been a while since I posted here. Quite a while come to think of it... But a couple things have coalesced to cause me to think I need to get back to blogging: I need to write more, hopefully helping my writing to improve; I need to work on expressing the thoughts I learn in my devotions. Those two things have brought me back to the blog.

This morning I will only write a short post about a verse I read last night for worship. It is a Psalm of David. Psalm 16:11

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
The part of the verse that struck me was "You will show me the path of life." David in this Psalm as in every other is speaking to God. But God is the One that will show David the path of life. The path of life is so windy and twisted sometimes that I wonder how I can ever know what tomorrow will hold. The Lord will reveal the path of life to each one of us. That is a promise.

In God's path of life there is fullness of joy. In doing God's will, following His path, we find the joy of the Lord that "is my strength." There is much joy in the Lord that we don't experience because we settle for the joy not of the Lord. Notice it doesn't say that In Your presence is joy, in God's presence is fullness of joy. Not the temporary, unsatisfying thing that the world calls joy, we are talking the real stuff!

Finally, at God's right hand are pleasures forevermore! That is where I want to be, at His right hand doing His pleasure, enjoying the fullness of joy that comes from being in His path of life.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Way of the Wind - Lesson 12

Memory Verse: As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. Ecc 11:5

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Ecc 11:1

This verse starts the theme of sharing: share Christ with the world; share what we have with others.

He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. Pr 22:9

Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Is 58:7

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. Deut 15:7-11

Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. Ecc 11:2

Let our hospitality be liberal and generous be without boundaries.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in the power of your hand to do so. Pr 3:27

We should give out of love, not from obligation. Very few people ever regret doing a good thing.

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. Ecc 11:3

Mal 3:10 - God will pour out a blessing on those that return to God what is His.

Full clouds represent life and blessing through rain. We are to be full clouds that shower blessings on others.

Matthew 25 - We are to be a conduit rain rain on the parched ground.

A tree is best measured when it is down - Carl Sandburg

What you take to grave with you is what meets you in the judgment. There are two ways in life: north or south. There is no changing teams when your life falls.

People typically die the way they live - sometimes there is a freak wind storm that blows a tree away from where it had been leaning, but most of the time a tree falls the way it has lived.

He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. Ecc 11:4

There are times when we should be discriminating in our giving. While we should give, we should make sure it is not blown away by the wind. We should observe the wind. No pearls before swine. Matt 7:6

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. Ecc 11:5

Why does the wind blow? Temperature, pressure, earth rotation, terrain, convection, beating of birds wings: all those things affect the wind.

Like the wind, the way God's spirit works is unpredictable.

In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. Ecc 11:6

Be generous at all times. Sometimes we reserve our generosity just for young because they are in their morning. We should give whether someone is in the morning or evening of their life.

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. Hos 10:12-13

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 2Cor 8:1-2

Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: Ecc 11:7

The sun is indirectly the source of all life on the earth. Seeing the light gives life.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. Matt 6:22

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. - Mal 4:2

Jesus in the sun of righteousness, the light of the world. It is good to behold the light of the world.

But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity. Ecc 11:8

We should rejoice in the blessing of giving. Make the most of this life because there is a time coming when we can't.

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Ecc 11:9

This verse begins the conclusion and should be the first verse of chapter 12.

"Youth is wasted on the young" - George B.

Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity. Ecc 11:10

Because judgment is coming put away evil. But we can be happy and righteous at the same time through God's grace.

God Bless!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Dead Flies and Snake Charmers: More Life Under the Sun - Lesson 11

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour. Ecc 10:1

Hershey's makes chocolate in huge vats. One day a rat fell into chocolate vat. What is remembered?

A dead fly introduces decomposition and it gives off a stink. A fly is like a moment in a lifetime.

A person can be known for their integrity and everything but they do one thing wrong and that will be what is remembered forever. It is similar with some presidents. A good reputation is a great thing: guard it.

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. John 12:3

Mary had done a good thing, a great ointment and the disciples gave it a stink.

Have some taken the fragrance of Christianity and made it stink by a wrong representation? Some of us are those dead flies.

A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left. verse 2

"According to the ancients the left is carnal and the right is truth and favor." The right side = God's hand, right way; The left side = wrong way, wrong side.

Solomon is not talking about anatomical things; he is talking about our nature. Matthew 25: the sheep and goats. Goats are on the left.

Matt 6:3 If you are doings good things from the motive of love don't let your carnal side capitalize on the good things that your right is doing.

A wise man is motivated by right reasons; a fool by bad reasons.

Jacob and Esau were motivated by different reasons.

Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil:... Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: Pr 12:20-22

Fear of consequences makes someone non-criminal, not ethical.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

The habits of the mind change the mind. So external actions affect your mind which affects your actions.

Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool. Verse 3

The way some process decisions is a foolish process. They are unlucky and they stumble all the way.

If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences. Verse 4

If you are on the spot because your employer is upset with you, stay there and he will get over it. If a ruler looses his temper with you, don't loose yours.

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceedeth from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity, and the rich sit in low place. I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth.

People who are wise and dignified are suddenly at a low station; and vice versa. Napoleon and the French Revolution. It happens among employers. Peter principle - do well and they move up, until they don't do well.

This reminds me of Haaman.

He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.

The Lord is like a wall/hedge about us, and whoso breaks through shall be bitten by the serpent.

Pr 26:27

Absolom; Haaman; others who built a trap for others and ended up in their own trap.

This works positively too. Bless those who curse and the Lord will bless you.

If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct. Verse 10

Sharp chainsaw chains

Education is important; Make your mind sharp and it will help you all your life.

Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better. Verse 11

"A serpent may bite without hissing first" - watch your step before you go.

Sometime you have to listen to people who have nothing to say to charm or help them

The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. Verse 12

There is no virtue in being crude. Being kind and being gracious is a virtue.

The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool also is full of words: a man cannot tell what shall be; and what shall be after him, who can tell him? Verse 13, 14

Ecc Chapter 5

Even a fool is wise when he is silent Pr

Let our words be few.

Matt 12:34 Out of the heart the mouth speaks

The fool talks too much and works too little. A fool doesn't know much and so he talks much to cover up his little knowledge. The words of a wise man come from thinking before saying

God is in heaven; you are on earth: let your words be few.

James 3:2-3, 8-10

Why do people talk so much when they have nothing to say? Pride, etc.

Living in this sinful world you cannot control everything. We still trust in God even though some things bad may happen to us.

God is to be the denominator in our life.

"who can tell" - You don't know what's going to happen. This is a call to live in view of the fact that we don't know the future. We really don't know what's going to happen. Our Father in heaven knows what we need. This leads not to irresponsibility or negligence rather trust.

The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to go to the city. Verse 15

For a fool a lot of work is harder because they don't approach it with wisdom.

Lazy man's load - Doing things the wrong way because that is what seems right to you.

Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning! Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! Verse 16, 17

not against young leaders; against those that act like young leaders

"son of nobles" - educated by nobles, well trained

Not against feasting, but at proper time

By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things. Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.

God Bless!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Can we know what is truth? Part 1

I haven't blogged anything since Monday and that was just a placeholder about the search. The reason is that all this week I have been wrestling with the issue of knowing: can we know for sure what is truth? This may seem like a very basic question to a Christian whose beliefs are based on knowledge but I have run across a philosophy that states the following:

a) for the concept of truth to be authentic objective truth it must be objectively known b) an observer is inherently and immutably subjective and therefore, can’t objectively know the truth (for a variety of reasons) therefore, c) there is no truth. While that philosophy may sound like a plausible and rational argument it has a flaw:

a) an observer is inherently and immutably subjective and therefore, can’t objectively know the truth with certainty. b) objective truth, whether objectively known it or not, exists. Therefore, c) it is irrelevant that the objective truth must be objectively known for an observer to knowingly and knowledgeably coexist (interact, participate, benefit...) with the truth.

Epistemological certainty, while interesting to talk about, is a) immutably a subjective concept in the first place, primarily because it is a product of linear or two-dimensional thinking (meaning, our belief that certainty is the inverse of uncertainty belies our limited understanding of the matter to begin with), and more importantly, b) completely unnecessary for us to participate meaningfully with truth itself. I believe the belief of objective truth is necessary but that is not to say that I am certain. The opposite of uncertainty (or, doubt) is not certainty. The three things that will survive from this world into the next are “faith, hope and love”, not epistemological certainty, and this is, I believe, for a very sound and specific reason: Certainty is not a phenomenological incarnation, whereas faith is.

The Bible affirms that we can know truth (see John 8:32, 1 Ti. 4:3, 1 Jn. 2:20-21) but only through faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Heb 11:1-3, 6

The Bible in that passage points out that for a knowledge of God there must be a faith that He (God) is. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Epistemological certainty then is contrary to the principles of the Bible. We cannot KNOW that God is; we have to believe that one faith. "No man hath seen God at any time..." 1John 4:12 Christianity is at its core a relationship with someone we can't see. That is why we must base our beliefs on faith. For faith that is seen is not faith.

God is the ultimate truth. And since we are subjective beings we cannot comprehend or grasp the fullness of our objective God. For if God is God and we are not God then how can we comprehend God? We cannot know that truth is truth except by faith.

And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. Ex 33:20

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1Co 13:12

We know only through faith now. But "...when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1John 3:2 "As He is" - without being limited to our view through faith we shall know God as He is. Does this verse and 1Co 13:12 mean that after the second coming we will know God objectively? I don't know...

We all have faith in something: A child has faith in its parents before it has the ability to test that truth empirically. Even adults attribute the basis for some of their knowledge to so called "authorities" in a given field of study. This is true because one simply does not have the time or resources to evaluate all of his/her knowledge empirically and exhaustively.

Let me make something clear about our beliefs being based on faith: It is not faith without evidence. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ..." 2Pe 1:16 There is power in Christ and we should bear evidence to that in our lives. When 3000 were baptized at Pentecost they their faith had the evidence of changed men standing before them. But they still believed through faith.

This is a post in progress as I need to come to more solid views on this. But I needed to post something otherwise I would go crazy. ;)

God Bless!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Search is now working

Google has decided that my site can be indexed so the Google search on the right-hand side of my blog is now working. Make sure to select finallybrethren.blogs rather than Web so that you see the results from my blog. Also, you can now search for certain things in Google and get my blog!

This is likely the only post for today, I studied something of a personal nature this morning.

God Bless!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Redbooks: Our search for Ellen White

Sponsored by the Pacific Union College's Dramatic Arts Society (DAS), Redbooks: Our search for Ellen White has caused a huge stir in the Online Adventist community. The play "explores the Seventh-day Adventist community’s relationship with its founder, Ellen G. White."

There are a number of related blogposts on this with varying opinions yet with a common thread all through them. Here are some or them:

“Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White” to Premiere at PUC
Red Books and the Mosaic of Adventism
Ellen White, Hip-Hop and Courageous Conversations
What Do We Do with Ellen White?
More on Ellen White
The Story of Adventism

Before I go any further, the third act of the play was dialogue. You cannot have a one-way dialogue, it is then a diatribe. ;) So, if you disagree with something you read finish the post and write me a comment. I should also say I haven't seen the play so I can't comment directly on it, only as I understand it through the accounts I have read.

To spare you having to read those posts here is what I believe the common thread is: There is something wrong with the historic (traditional, conservative, however you want to put it) view of Ellen White and there needs to be a change. Now hang with me, you can read the whole posts for context using the links above but here are some quotes without context to back up my claim:

"...We’ve come to that place of confidence where we can take some heavy-hitting cynicism and iconoclasm coming from within, where we don’t look down upon our students and laity to the point that we need to resort to censorship or other oppressive measures to keep the appearance of ecclesiastical/theological unity, where we don’t need to defend every attack or ridicule hurled at Ellen White or our views of her. The church is mature enough be self-critical about the way we relate with our most revered cultural and historical icon—Ellen White." - Julias Nam/Progressive Adventism

"...How can we learn to accept Ellen White for who she was, "messy and enigmatic," completely human and thus imperfect and sinful, as well as called and inspired by God to do ministry in her time and place?" - Richard Doss/P. Richie's Place

"...there is a four-generation relationship to a prophetic figure like White.

The first generation in a new religious movement led by a charismatic person appreciates the spiritual gifts displayed in that person and at the same time recognizes them as a human being. The second generation puts the person on a pedestal after they are gone. The third generation tears down the pedestal and the fourth generation is left with nothing but a misunderstood and ill-defined wound or void.

If this is true (and I think it is, in one way or another) about the role of Ellen White and her legacy in the Adventist movement, then it is more largely true about the history of the movement altogether. What is the story of Adventism as you have heard it? What generation are you in?" - Monte Sahlin/Faith in Context

"Eryck and his crew have masterfully laid bare our inability to talk openly and honestly - without fear of banishment - about our diversity of opinion regarding our common roots. This inability to openly dialogue has led to tragic consequences, especially in the 1970s on our campus, Pacific Union College. " - Jon Thorton/Continuous Dialogue

Now, is it possible there is something wrong with the historic (Seventh-day Adventist) view of Ellen White? Quite likely. But I think there is a larger issue here and that is methods of Biblical interpretation. In a post here there is a record of a chat session between some of the characters in the play and some friends(?). I am not quite sure who exactly was involved. But what was interesting to me was a phrase used a few paragraphs

"Luke: Yes Matt, a prophet can be outdated because of the principle of the Incarnational Gospel. The gospel reaches people, society, where it is. Thus her message was for that time and place."

The idea of the "Incarnational Gospel" is something new to me. I did a bit of searching and wasn't able to find much on it. I was able to find something on it here and from that I can determine that the idea basically means that the gospel changes to fit the culture (time and place) that it finds itself in. This brings up the obvious question of what truths or beliefs are open to change when they are contrary to culture? How much variation should there be between a western Adventist Christian and a middle eastern or far eastern Adventist Christian? And what determines the amount of leeway that there should be?

This all though points to how you interpret scripture as being the real question at hand. It is really not about Ellen White (although it is the subject in this discussion), it is not about music, it is not about our styles and ways of worship: it is about how we, who claim to believe in the Bible, interpret that book. That is the question. I will submit to you that all the other beliefs hand off of our interpretation of the Bible. I can believe that the Bible is a fairy tale but I still believe in it. I can believe that the Bible only has good comments for some practical life issues but I still believe in it. The only difference is my system of how I apply those words to my culture and to me.

So when it says in 2 Chronicles 20 "Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper" that means different things to different people depending on how you read the Bible.

I guess my conclusion on the play and the debate is that unless Adventism can agree on how to interpret the Bible there will never be agreement on the other issues. You can have discussions and assemblies but until the principles you are working off of are the same the conclusions of necessity will be different. "He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?" Luke 10:26 - How readest thou?

One thing I do want to add before I finish is that often a misunderstanding comes through lack of contact. Walls get built and sometimes the event that created the need is long past but they remain erected out of tradition and stigma against the other side. This is true of both parties in this case. But take a look at the verse using whatever method of interpretation that you believe in and come and see.

"Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see."

Come and see - to those who haven't ever read anything from Ellen White or for those who haven't read anything in a while I would say, come and see. Take some time and read something from Steps to Christ or the Desire of Ages. I think that you will find, as I have, that Ellen White was inspired and that her writing is inspired and relevant for modern times.

God Bless!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Parable of the Two FTP Clients

I was sitting at breakfast this morning when some things I have been thinking about came together. I thought of The Parable of the Two FTP Clients. I will explain what FTP Clients are for those who don't know, but this is kind of a Devotional for Techies (Tm) ;).

I use two FTP Clients for my work. Now FTP is File Transfer Protocol, basically a way to put files on web servers, and the client is a program I use to transfer files using that method. I have two of these programs: one called FTPVoyager; one called FileZilla. They are both good programs.

When someone transfers files using FTP there is something called a timeout. This means that after a certain time the connection will timeout and be dropped or closed. FTPVoyager has something nice that it will do. It will send a command called NOOP (NO OPeration). This command does nothing except return a response. However that response is very useful. It keeps the connection from dropping. FileZilla on the other hand doesn't do this and the connection can and does eventually drop.

Now, you may be saying "What in the world does this have to do with anything spiritual?" Here it is: When we become Christians Christ opens a connection with us: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:" John 15:5a what happens after that is largely up to us. So as we continue in our Christian walk we will eventually timeout and drop our connection to Christ unless we make sure to refresh our connection.

Now, how often should we refresh our connection? "Pray without ceasing" 1Th 5:17. I heard a story about a Godly old man who gave this counsel: "How often do eat? That many times a day study God's word. How often do you take a breath? That often pray." I must say the Lord has more for me in this area but it is critical that we keep that connection. That connection is how the Lord can work in us and through us to the blessing of ourselves and others.

Let me know if you like it (or don't get it ;))!

God Bless, even the techies!