Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Gotham and the Old Testament- A Repost

This is a post I wrote earlier about one of my favorite shows.  I hope you enjoy it the second time around.

Gotham and the Old Testament

I haven't had a TV show that was appointment television for me since The Office went off the air.  The Office was the only show that I had to watch and if I missed it I caught up online.  Well, The Office was the only show that was appointment television for me until I got hooked on Gotham.

Now, Gotham is not a squeaky clean kids' show by any means.  It's very violent and dark much of the time, but as a man that used to be a little boy in Batman underwear it's a show that I was trapped by and now I can't get out.  I enjoy watching every week as this prequel to Batman plays out.  See, Gotham takes place while Bruce Wayne (Batman) is a boy.  During the show you get clues as to what characters turn into what bad guys or what characters get promoted to higher positions or who marries whom.  As a Batman fan I can see all the little hints that tell me who's who in the near or distant future in the show and I enjoy that.

Gotham is a prequel and the fun of watching a prequel is seeing how things all come together to make the story you know is coming.  In the TV show Gotham, Gotham City is a mess.  Violence, injustice and corruption reigns and those who are trying to do good are by far the minority.  When you watch the show Gotham you can't help but cheer for Batman to come sooner rather than later, but you know you have to wait for him.  The TV show Gotham would be depressing and hopeless if you didn't know that Batman was coming.  But we do know that Batman is coming and that eventually justice, peace and civility will have their day.

Reading the Old Testament is a lot like watching Gotham.  Parts of the Old Testament are filled with violence, injustice and corruption.  Read the book of Judges and see how futile the efforts of each judge seems to be because evil always come back.  In fact, Jim Gordon on the show, who is like the one good guy, tries his best to do good but you know he can't do it alone.  In the Old Testament read the corruption of some of the kings of Israel and of the nations that oppress Israel and see if you don't ache for things to be fixed.  Reading the Old Testament can be depressing and hopeless if you don't know that Jesus is coming later on in the Bible.  But we do know that Jesus comes later on in the Bible.

When we read the Old Testament we read for clues and hints about how Jesus will come and what He will be like and what He will do.  The Old Testament isn't a prequel to the New Testament, but in some ways it is like a prequel.  The Old Testament is meant to be read to get the meaning intended for the original audience and it is meant to be read knowing that Jesus and the New Testament is next.

So, I'm going to keep enjoying watching my show Gotham, but this post isn't about encouraging you to get hooked on a super-hero prequel show.  I want you to read the Old Testament look for Jesus and long for Jesus just like the men and women of the Old Testament must have longed for the Messiah.  I want you to read the Old Testament and see the beauty of God's arching narrative penned across centuries by several different men. Read your Old Testament looking for Jesus and loving God's story today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Favorite Quotes from "The Weight of Glory"

I recently read a collection of essays and speeches from C. S. Lewis entitled The Weight of Glory.  Really "The Weight of Glory" is simply the first essay in a rather random collection and the book is named after it.  That being said I want to share a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

From "The Weight of Glory"
"... it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who want to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased."

"... he who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only."

"... to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son... it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain.  But so it is."

"... God makes no appetite in vain."

From "Why I Am Not a Pacifist
About why reason must be used.  "The man who 'just feels' that total abstinence from drink or marriage is obligatory is to be treated like the man who 'just feels sure' that Henry VIII is not by Shakespeare or that vaccination does no good."

From "Transposition"
"We can hope only for what we can desire."

Concerning our heavenly bodies.  "'We know not what we shall be'; but we may be sure we shall be more, not less, that we were on earth."

From "Is Theology Poetry?"

"... if Theology is Poetry, it is not very good poetry."

"Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions.  The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself.  I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."

From "The Inner Ring"
"... attempting to fill sieves with water, is the symbol not of one vice but of all vices."

"Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain."

From "Membership"
"... the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion."

"The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine.  God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him...  He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is love... If there is equality, it is in His love, not is us."

"The structural position in the Church which the humblest Christian occupies is eternal and even cosmic.  The Church will outlive the universe; in it the individual person will outlive the universe."

From "On Forgiveness"
"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

From "A Slip of the Tongue"

"'Have we never risen from our knees in haste for fear God's will should become too unmistakable if we prayed longer?'"

"When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death.  Therefore, in love, He claims all.  There's no bargaining with Him."

"If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead."

"What God does for us, He does in us."

These are a few favorite quotes from The Weight of Glory; I hope you take time to read one of these essays in their entirety today.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Better Second Adam

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Genesis 1:1

The Bible begins here at the beginning of the world and you probably know the story.  God created everything from stars to starfish and everything was good, all was perfect.  God created mankind and humans were perfect, too.  God created Adam and Eve and they were perfect.

"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it..." Genesis 1:28

The universe was perfect and its inhabitants were, too.  The creation stories in Genesis chapters one and two are full of perfection.  Chapter three is a different story.

Genesis one and two begins with perfection and by chapter three the story turns very sour.  The reader may wonder why there isn't more time spent talking about what was done in this perfect world.  What did Adam and Eve do?  What was it like for them to be with God during this time?  We don't really know the answers to these questions because chapter three comes in suddenly and everything is messed up.  Adam and Eve sinned and sin entered the once perfect world.

Flash forward to Noah.  The world's inhabitants are evil, so evil that God was grieved that He ever made humans.  But Noah found favor in God's eyes.

"Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God."  Genesis 6:9

The reader of Genesis has to be thinking, "here's our chance to fix the story."  If the world got screwed up by Adam and Eve and their sin, then just start over with one family, but this time a family that won't screw up.

So, a big flood comes and destroys every human except for Noah and his family because they are on a huge ship called an ark.  This is the big restart and perfection has to be around the corner, right?

Noah and his family get off of the ark and life on earth gets a reboot.  In fact, God basically reissues His original blessing and command to the humans.

"Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth."  Genesis 9:1

So, this righteous family has got to do well on their restart.  They won't screw it up, especially not one or two chapters later, right?  Wrong.  The very same chapter Noah and his sons blew it.

In Genesis chapter nine Noah plants a vineyard and makes some wine.  He then precedes to drink that wine and get hammered while he's naked.  Then Noah's son Ham did something.  Some scholars say he looked lustfully on his own dad and some say the euphemism in the chapter implies that Ham sodomized his own unconscious father before Sodom was even around.  Sin came quickly for this righteous family.

Noah and his family blew being the second Adam, they blew being God's great restart that would finally get the world back to its perfect ways.

Christ would not screw this up.  In Romans 5:12-21 the Apostle Paul explains that Jesus was the second Adam.  Adam screwed up and brought sin and death into God's perfect world.  Jesus came and was the Righteous One who lived perfectly and defeated sin and death.

Jesus is a better second Adam than Noah.

Am I slamming Adam and Noah here?  No, because I would fail miserably as a second or first Adam.  I would sin, guaranteed.  But this is the good news... where we fail, Christ succeeds for us.  We all would screw up, but Jesus fixed it all for us.

You aren't a second Adam.  You can't fix the sin of the world, you can't fix the problem of death, you can't even fix you; but Christ can.  If the story of Noah teaches us anything it's that without Christ we fail in major or minor ways every single time.  We needed Jesus to finally get things right for us and He did.  We needed not a second try for one of us, we needed someone to do it for us and then remake us.

Praise God for a better second Adam today.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

God is Faithful

"... the LORD is faithful to all His promises..." Psalm 145:13

God has made a lot of great promises in the Bible.  By one count I saw there are 3,573 promises of God in the Bible.  Some of those promises were specific to specific people but many of them apply to you and I and God is faithful to ALL of them.  Saint Peter calls God's promises "great and precious promises" and they are in fact just that.

Do you know the promises of God?

Do you have some favorite promises of God?

Do you hold on to the promises of God in hard times?

Do you use the promises of God to fuel your good works?

God is faithful to all His promises and that is very good news, in fact it's Gospel.  So, get to know the promises of God and hold on to them dearly.  Cherish them as precious promises.

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ.  And so through Him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God." 2 Corinthians 1:20

God is faithful to all of His great and precious promises because of Christ Jesus.  Remember that fact today.