Friday, July 15, 2011

Name above all Names.

I have been thinking about this blog post for some time, so let's see how it rolls off the keyboard.  What motivated me to write it was following a car home today that had a bumper sticker with the word "God" and the O was the peace symbol.  Now some get bent out of shape by these things or the whole "Coexist" campaign...but it doesn't really bother me.  It did make me want to ask the person, "Who do you think God is?"

Think about the first of the Ten Commandments - "You shall have no other gods before me."  Christopher J.H. Wright has a great chapter on this in his book The Mission of God if you crave some scholarly work on this topic.  I won't get nearly that deep.

However, consider what the "One True God" is saying in that commandment.  All throughout God's revelation to us He reveals Himself as the One True God - however the world at that time was extremely polytheistic and even Israel fell victim to polytheistic thinking and God punished them for it.  The nations that surrounded Israel all had their own gods, often called upon to bring them victory on the battle field.  So many of the stories in the O.T. are recounts of God establishing His position as One True God - by demonstrating His power to those that would hold other gods or claim that their gods would bring them victory over Israel on the battlefield.

Are these other "gods" real or perceived?  Is a "god" I created a real god?  We certainly know that if I allow things to take preeminence in my life they are, for all intents and purposes, a god.  If I craft a golden calf and ascribe worth to it and worship it - it is a god to me regardless of the fact that it has been fashioned by my own hand.  2 Kings 19:18 says:  They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by men's hands.

And so today we have a more subtle form of polytheism.  Throughout the Biblical narrative these other gods had names such as Baal, Molech, etc., but today we use the term "god" to denote some generic spirituality.  Your god and my god are all equal, because after all we can't actually "know" god/God.

The 'god' that we worship can be anything we want to make it - fashioned by our own intellect or reason.  We wouldn't carve a god out of wood or stone and worship it, but we will fashion a god that makes us feel good about ourselves, our world, our existence.  Is that really any different?  Haven't we just become another polytheistic culture?

God has a name and it is Jesus.  Notice how people will use the word 'god' but they are very uncomfortable talking about Jesus?  Hmmm...maybe that should be a clue to us.

Jesus, name above all names,
Beautiful Saviour, glorious Lord;
Emmanuel, God is with us,
Blessed Redeemer, Living Word.

The One True God has revealed Himself once and finally in the person of Jesus.  Now you get to choose whether to follow Him or a god of your own making.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The blogger's dilemma.

I am not sure how die-hard bloggers keep up the pace.  I have started a couple of blogs and then lost the inspiration to finish them.  Things related to the earlier posts and things completely unrelated.  I will find the inspiration to finish in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, I miss all of my dear friends in WA and hope to see many of you over the 4th of July weekend as we will be back in the PNW and at WAC on Sunday!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Where everybody knows your name.

Not long ago in reference to our weekly men's bible study group, I said that it was kind of like a Christian version of the TV show Cheers.  It had become a place where men would show up because everyone knew their name. 

It wasn't a particularly positive opinion, as I was longing to find a group with more depth.  Whatever that means.  I guess I really wanted to find a place where I could have deep, significant conversations and be challenged both spiritually and intellectually.

This past Sunday I was alone in San Jose, CA and decided to venture off to Peninsula Bible Church in Cupertino.  It's a small, older church with the classic A-frame architecture and wooden pews.  I ventured to a spot where I could be a casual observer and the crowd seemed light so I thought I was perfectly situated.

Now for those of you who have attended Woodinville Alliance Church and complain about late arrivers, you got nothing on these guys.  Most people didn't arrive to their seats until AFTER the 2nd song.  So as the people showed up and we shuffled along the wooden pews to make room, I found myself sitting three people from the center aisle with folks pressed in on both sides.  The woman next to me introduced herself, "Hi I am Mary and this is Joe."  Hmmm...Mary and Joseph? She then sized me up and said, "You are a big fellow!"  So much for being inconspicuous.

Well we sang the songs, honored the graduating seniors and heard a really great sermon from Isaiah.  And then I shuffled off to the parking lot.  At that moment I longed to be in a place where someone simply knew my name.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

A pilgrim on a journey.

Picking a good blog name is always hard given the millions of aspiring bloggers and the lack of remaining witty and compelling names.  So I chose to use 'Plain Ease' as a reference from John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress".

Then Christian and Hopeful outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it.

I love Pilgrim's Progress, it's such a great book.  The way Bunyan describes this 'delicate' and 'narrow' plain where they could experience Ease is so indicative of our lives sometimes.  The moments of true ease seem fleeting at times.  Yet we know as pilgrims our true ease won't come until journeys end.

So, why blog?  I am hoping this can be a mechanism to continue to engage in the great conversations of which I have become accustomed with my fellow pilgrims.  So please join in, opine and share your thoughts.