Archive for August, 2013

Professional Student and Some Riff Raff

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2013 by nmpreach

For those of you who don’t know me (or my family), my second daughter started her Freshman year at a university this year.  Our youngest is now a fifth grader.  The years of “Meet the Teacher” nights are coming to an end.  And I can’t say I’m not happy about the latter.  But I realize I’m now considered “middle-aged.”

Reviewing the first forty-four years of life is humbling.  I quickly move through the teenage and early twenties years (I made tons of mistakes).  But I try to live without regrets.  In other words, even in the mistakes I’ve tried to learn – learn about life, about people, about myself.  I can’t take those years back.  But what I can do is acknowledge what I learned and never forget.

I mentioned my daughter going to school.  It seems like I’ve been in school forever.  But in all actuality, I was simply late to the party.  I joined the military out of high school, worked for two radio stations after discharge, and then enjoyed a short career in law enforcement.  It wasn’t until I was twenty-nine that my wife and I took two girls and moved to Dallas to go to school.  The goal was to preach and teach.  It was something I felt I was “called to do.”  Sitting in a class of nineteen and twenty year olds meant I was definitely the “old man.”  In fact, for some of them, I was the dorm “parent.”

After receiving a Bachelor’s degree, I began doing what God called me to do – preach and teach.  I also took graduate classes hoping that one day God would allow me to teach the Bible in a university setting.  I will receive a Master’s of Art in Christian Studies with an emphasis in theology in December.  Please understand.  I’m not blowing a horn here.  I’m realizing that although I’ve had several opportunities to hang a piece of paper on the wall, God isn’t done with me yet.  I feel called to continue my education even further.

Anticipation and even fear creep into my head as I fill out an application for a Master’s of Divinity program.  Most in the program will be about half of my age.  But I’ve never done anything the easy way.  It seems I’m following form.

Here’s the point:  What’s wrong with being a professional student?  I realize there’s something wrong with going to school, paying out thousands of dollars, and struggling with lack of sleep with no clear-cut plan.  But there was no way I could have made it through college at eighteen.  I was the definition of immature.  The life experiences I’ve had have provided me with opportunities to learn – learn about life, about people, about myself.  It’s those opportunities I consider as blessings.  That’s something a twenty year old can’t offer to society.  Sure, they might be mature.  But the life experience is priceless!

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15 (ESV)

I’ve applied believing God’s will for me is to continue my education.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds.  There will be tremendous challenges.  But I know who holds tomorrow.  And I know He is faithful.

For His glory alone!

Quotes (19)

Posted in Words on August 29, 2013 by nmpreach

Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. For that reason, today I’ve chosen a quote from Dr. King.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoughts?

Authority (5)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee with tags , , on August 28, 2013 by nmpreach

If you’re not familiar with the account of Saul and David, you’re missing a great part of Scripture.  Saul is the first Israelite king but realizes David is in line for his throne.  Because of jealousy, pride, and arrogance, Saul attempts many times to hunt and kill David – all to no avail.  God protects David.

At one point in the story, David is deep in a cave where Saul enters to “relieve himself.”  David is encouraged by those closest to him to kill Saul but refuses.  He sneaks up to Saul and simply cuts the bottom of his robe.  Read the account in 1 Samuel 24.  It’s interesting that David is remorseful for cutting the kings clothes.

Just two chapters later, David again has the opportunity to destroy his enemy.  Saul and his men were bedded down for the night while David snuck into the camp and took a jar of water and a spear.  Upon reaching safety once more, David calls to the commander of Saul’s army (Abner) and chastises him for being negligent.  Although David had the opportunity (and was encouraged) to take Saul’s life, again he relented.  Hear David’s reasoning.

The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD’S anointed.

1 Samuel 26:23 (emphasis mine)

David knew he would one day reign over the Israelites.  He had been anointed by God’s prophet (Samuel).  And yet David was loyal to the present reign of Saul.  He placed himself under Saul’s authority.  David denied himself (the temptation to kill Saul and be the king) and trusted in God’s providential timing.  For David, being under God’s authority caused him to serve under a despot who was more concerned with his name than God’s will.

David’s commitment to obedience was more important than his own desire(s).  His submission to the authority of God meant he would live by faith and not by sight.  What a great example for us to follow!  A “man after God’s own heart” is what I too want to be.

Authority (4)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee with tags , , on August 26, 2013 by nmpreach

As I’ve been reading Watchman Nee’s Spiritual Authority, we’ve been considering sin versus authority.  For this post, I want to turn our attention away from the theologian’s book towards Deuteronomy 28.

Submission to an authority obviously signals obedience.  Adam was given dominion over creation.  Yet to be given dominion, there had to be an authority over him.  God had the authority to give because He alone is all-powerful.  Adam (and then Eve) were expected to be obedient.

Another example would be Abram.  Abram was told (in Genesis 12) to leave all he knew and follow the one true God.  The Creator had authority and expected Abram to obey.  Now we turn to the commands of God to the Israelite nation.

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God,

being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today,

the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

Deut. 28:1 (ESV)

If you’re not familiar with the text, the entire chapter speaks of the consequences of obedience and then the consequences of disobedience.  It might be helpful to read the entire chapter from time to time.  Trust me.  Disobedience results in some harmful life experience.

Here’s the point:  Because God maintains authority, He has every right to expect my obedience.  When you and I are disobedient, we are claiming our own authority.  It’s a place you and I have no business.

Quotes (18)

Posted in Words on August 22, 2013 by nmpreach

You thought you were being made into a little cottage but He is building a palace. He intends to live in it Himself. – C.S. Lewis

Authority (3)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee on August 20, 2013 by nmpreach

Continuing the discussion on authority, I want to turn our attention to Satan himself. Ezekiel 28:13-17 speaks of the pride, arrogance, and rebellion of Satan. It’s lengthy to post here. But take some time to read it. Satan is rebelling against God’s holiness.

Now turn your attention to Isaiah 14:12-15 and notice the rebellion towards authority.

…You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God. I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north… vs 13 (emphasis mine)

Finally, Jesus teaches His disciples to pray in Matthew 6. …And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from (the) evil (one). vs 13 (emphasis mine). “Temptation” according to the Chinese theologian points to holiness; whereas (the) evil (one) points to Satan’s desire for authority.

As we’ve noted before, Nee argues that rebelling against God’s authority is greater than any sin. When Satan tells God what he will do, it’s safe to say he overstepped his bounds. When we follow an authority other than that of God, surely we’ve overstepped our bounds.

Although some of this seems a review of the two earlier posts, I believe it will be helpful for future discussions. Anything to add?

Authority (2)

Posted in Authority, Sin, Watchman Nee on August 16, 2013 by nmpreach

Jeremiah 1

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations…for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak…  See I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.  – vs 5, 7, 10

Jeremiah was told what he must do.  God set his servant apart to speak God’s judgment against His people.  Although Jeremiah had reservations, God did not.  The prophet would speak on behalf of His God.  His authority would come from God.

There are many examples in Scripture of God calling His servants but just giving them enough information that they must act upon faith.  Examples are Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Jonah, Peter, and Paul. He wanted them to trust His authority. And these “pillars of faith” (although some were more stubborn than others) realized their authority was limited and led to chaos, whereas God’s authority brought peace and success. I can’t wait to talk to Paul about the Damascus road experience.

The last post on authority mentioned Watchman Nee’s idea of rebellion against authority being a bigger issue than sin. In other words, when authority is properly placed, sin wouldn’t be an issue. Listen to how Nee puts it. “What sets us totally free from Satan is the seeing of this most precious truth – that the kingdom is God’s.” (Pg. 11) And I say YES!

Jeremiah was told clearly that he would only be successful by following God’s authority. God knew him better than he knew himself. The message wasn’t going to be easy. In fact, it wouldn’t be heeded most of the time. And yet God commanded Jeremiah to speak the truth. You see, when you and I step out of the way, God will be glorified. When we put His will above our own God reigns. That’s the way it should be!

Any thoughts?