Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011

I'm not an excellent baker. I barely squeak by as a Kraft-macaroni-preparer. Despite this, I am still spoken to when yeast is referenced in the Bible. From my (limited) understanding, yeast is a reactant used to cause rising in doughs. Yeast reproduces rapidly and dies upon baking. Dough containing yeast that is not carefully monitored has the potential to rise out of control. It came up this morning in Galatians 5:9- "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." The context of the verse is a letter of encouragement from Paul (because, to my knowledge, Paul pretty much only wrote letters of encouragement). In this portion, he is warning against lies and manipulations that are not in keeping with Christ's word. It takes a relatively small amount of yeast to produce a large reaction in a large batch. A small lie does not only affect its one department. A small lie gives your mind permission to manipulate truth, which can't NOT take effect on the whole person. Yeast is also mentioned from Jesus's mouth in Luke 13:20. In this passage, however, it's used to describe the Kingdom of God. The same interpretation of small agent produces large reaction fits here in a positive way, with so many facets. A small amount of Word produces such large life changes in its reader. A small act of love produces deeper trust in a relationship. A small amount of believers in the earth are responsible for filling such a large population. Believers are called to distribute ourselves amongst people and to be the reactive agents there. We are responsible for doing the work that causes rise around us. We are to be the yeast of God's earth. Romans 1:20 says that God's wonders can be understood by what He has made. It makes me wonder- Did Jesus and Paul coincidentally find these parallels about yeast, or did God design yeast to be inspired by His kingdom at work?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jew Dimaggio? Coco Christ?

I'm losing sight of my Christ lately because of the cultural gap that separates me from his walk on our earth. I want to appreciate who he is, I really do, I just can't see him today.
Therefore, I'm going outside the box to place Jesus in the culture I do see.
What would I think of Jesus if he hadn't been a carpenter 2000 years before my time?
What if Jesus had come to earth as a baseball player in the 21st century?
As a man without err, Jesus would have a 1.00 career batting average. The second-place holder in history books would be Ty Cobb, with a not-so-near .367.
Ed Walsh has the lowest ERA in man's history, allowing an average of 1.82 runs per game. That's 1.82 more than Jesus would have let through.
If you can remember the hype that electrifies our media when a star athlete is on the rise - Remember Tiger Woods? Remember Michael Jordan? Michael Phelps? The 1996 USA Women's Gymnastics team? The 1996 Chicago Bulls? The 1996 everything? (It was a good year for sports.) Take a minute to fathom the sensationalism that would surround a promising athlete who had never failed. Never taken second place. You know that energy that surrounds a pitcher who has yet to give up a hit in the 7th inning? Imagine a pitcher that never gave up a hit... ever. Our focus would become a magnet to this athlete. A great amount of media attention would be given to speculation and anticipation of the error we are sure is to come.

And then, what if it didn't? Would we continue to praise and support someone who never did fail? Would we get bored with the predictability? Would we make accusations that the athlete is using steroids or bribing officials, because we are just that uncomfortable with someone being that much better than us?

How easy it would be to capture my attention if Jesus were a baseball player. But, then again, how easy it would still be for me to take him for granted. How easy it would be for him to be persecuted again.

I'm praying this morning that I not take Christ for granted. I cannot fully appreciate the way he sacrificed his body (and not just in death, but in his lifestyle - regularly denying his flesh the ways of the world) until I am prepared to deny mine as well. I can deny my body its desires by waking up earlier than I would naturally to spend time in the Word. I can deny my body its desires by withholding dinner for an evening. I can deny my body its desires by making larger monetary contributions, when really all I want is to put every dime into remodeling our house.

I believe I am one person in three parts: body, soul, and spirit. My spirit is where the Holy Spirit is housed within me, as I am a saved believer. My soul is my mind+heart place where I interpret reality. I can choose to interpret reality using my body or my spirit. Body and spirit are polar opposites - to deny one is to accept the other. When I turn my back on my body's wants, by default I am running to the spirit. And guess who's there waiting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 18, 2011

Doing a study on the book of Mark, and I'm just coming up with too clear of understanding to not document.
Today's progress:

Mark 10:46-52
Jesus's choice of words in verse 52 interests me. Not "I have healed you," (although this would be a true statement), but "Your faith has healed you." Jesus seemed to have a way of making his ability known without directly demanding praise for himself. Jesus gives Bartimaeus sight not because of his own mercy or grace, but because of Bartimaeus's faith. What I gain from this is that our spiritual lives reflect a self-fulfilling prophecy. Jesus performs to the same degree we expect of him. Later on, in Mark 11:24, Jesus says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
This leads me to: Why would the God-man share his glory with us? Why give us credit for faith when the true work being done is on his end? My best response is that he loves us and wants to encourages our faith. What could be more encouraging than to see results credited to your effort? I'll liken it to parenting- when Carson asks politely for a drink, I do not hand it to him and tell him, "I, O mighty mother, have provided this drink for you from self-sacrifice and love, and it is right that you ask politely because you are eternally indebted to me." I simply hand it over and say, "Thank you for asking nicely." Reinforcing good behavior never fails to elicit more good behavior.

Mark 12:13-17
Jesus is clarifying for the legalistic ones whether or not to pay taxes. After all, Jesus is a rebel who challenges the norms of culture. Jesus answers the question by looking at a coin of the day. It is stamped (engraved? chiseled? etched?) with the image of Caesar. Mark 12:17 "Then Jesus said to them, 'Give to Caeasar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." The coin bore the image of Caesar, but man bears the image of God.
Background info on the image of God:
God Himself is a trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
Man is a trinity - spirit, Soul, Body
No other living creation is a trinity. Dogs have bodies, and you could argue that dogs have souls (who hasn't seen a dog "cry" or pout?). But there is no question that dogs do not have spirits. The spirit (little s) is the vessel within a man that is capable of receiving the Holy Spirit (big S), should the man accept. Dogs do not know Jesus, and are not capable of carrying his Spirit within them.
Man alone bears God's image, because man alone is a trinity capable of carrying the Holy Spirit. (FYI, I believe angels are not trinities. They have spirit and soul, but no body.)
Back to Mark 12:17. The coin bears the image of Caesar, and thus belongs to Caesar. We bear the image of God, and thus belong to God.
Send the money away, Jesus says. Let Caesar collect the metal currency he so favors, this currency has no bearing in the Kingdom of God. Keep yourself reserved for the Lord, as this is the treasure He most seeks.