Saturday, August 30, 2014

support for Israel?

I posted a video on Facebook in support of Israel keeping current boundaries rather than reverting to those of 1948.  A friend posted the following in answer...

"Bogus. They are in violation of international law. The U.S. Knows it. That's why our embassy is in Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem. They are harassing and killing Christians, Palestinian and otherwise. Anyone who goes there with their eyes open and talks to people, especially in the West Bank will see clearly what the situation is. Our support of Israel is a huge reason for much of the international hatred of our country worldwide."

Now I don't usually debate issues on Facebook, but thought I might respond to this, or maybe just to say what I mean, and don't mean, about supporting Israel.

I do not support or approve of everything that Israel does, any more than I do for our own country. Israel offers freedom of religion within its boundaries, but I know that there are restrictions in outreach.  And there are injustices. 

Yes, I have met and had fellowship with Arab Christians living in the West Bank.  It is difficult for them, and there is unjust treatment. Yet, I dare say they would prefer the Israeli government rule over them than any of the other current governments or religious authorities in the Middle East. 

I do support Israel's right to exist and to defend its boundaries from hostile attacks. They are surrounded by enemies that seek to destroy them completely. Even though many in Israel still reject the Messiah, the nation still has a special place in God's redemptive history, and they have the right to that land.  

But the question remains, which boundaries? I think Israel is seeking to have defensible borders and keeping the land given to them as a people under the Mosaic Covenant (Ex 6:4; Josh 13). International law, then, would be secondary. Ultimately, Israel's accountability regarding borders is to the decree of God rather than to the laws of other nations.   

So, my support of Israel is qualified.  In speaking of unbelieving ethnic Israel, Paul writes, "As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:28-29 ESV) Note, the same people -- Jewish opponents of the gospel -- are called "enemies" and "beloved."  They are both opponents of the gospel and yet elect for God's purpose.

I have to embrace that tension. This obviously means there will be much that should be opposed.  But one thing I believe is that God gave them that land.  And their Messiah (and mine!) will return to Jerusalem, and then will be fulfilled the word of Zechariah...

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10 ESV)


Friday, August 29, 2014

deadly boredom

"Acedia" n. "spiritual or mental sloth; apathy." From Gr. "listlessness; without care." (From The New Oxford American Dictionary

"As acedia, boredom is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It deserves the honor. You can be bored by virtually anything if you put your mind to it, or choose not to. You can yawn your way through Don Giovanni or a trip to the Grand Canyon or an afternoon with your dearest friend or a sunset. There are doubtless those who nodded off at the coronation of Napoleon or the trial of Joan of Arc or when Shakespeare appeared at the Globe in Hamlet or Lincoln delivered himself of a few remarks at Gettysburg. The odds are that the Sermon on the Mount had more than a few of the congregation twitchy and glassy-eyed. To be bored is to turn down cold whatever life happens to be offering you at the moment. It is to cast a jaundiced eye at life in general including most of all your own life. You feel nothing is worth getting excited about because you are yourself not worth getting excited about. To be bored is a way of making the least of things you often have a sneaking suspicion you need the most. To be bored to death is a form of suicide."

(Frederich Buechner, The Sacred Journey)

Check out Bryan Wilkerson's message on "Sloth? Seriously?" here.

XKCD cartoon permalink here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

no gift better than himself

"The motive for loving God is God Himself. I spoke truly, for He is as well the efficient cause as the final object of our love. He gives the occasion for love, He creates the affection, He brings the desire to good effect. He is such that love to Him is a natural due; and so hope in Him is natural, since our present love would be vain did we not hope to love Him perfectly some day. Our love is prepared and rewarded by His. He loves us first, out of His great tenderness; then we are bound to repay Him with love; and we are permitted to cherish exultant hopes in Him. 'He is rich unto all that call upon Him' (Rom. 10.12), yet He has no gift for them better than Himself. He gives Himself as prize and reward: He is the refreshment of holy soul, the ransom of those in captivity. 'The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him' (Lam. 3.25). What will He be then to those who gain His presence? But here is a paradox, that no one can seek the Lord who has not already found Him. It is Thy will, O God, to be found that Thou mayest be sought, to be sought that Thou mayest the more truly be found."

(Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Colossians 1 prayer

Here's a way to pray for someone this week, based on Colossians 1:9-12...

Here's a PDF sheet of four of the above. 

And here's the sermon behind the graphic.

Friday, August 15, 2014

prophet, priest, and king

Been reading some recent posts about the three Old Testament offices (roles) that Christ fulfilled -- that of prophet, priest, and king. Bavinck addresses this beautifully in volume III of his Dogmatics, but here is a summary excerpt from Our Reasonable Faith... 

"We need a Christ who is all three [offices] at once.  We need a prophet who proclaims God to us, a priest who reconciles us with God, and a king who in the name of God rules and protects us.  The whole image of God must be restored in man -- knowledge, yes, but also holiness and righteousness.  The whole man must be saved, according to soul and body, according to head and heart and hand.  We need a Savior who redeems us perfectly and entirely and who fully realizes in us our original purpose.  Christ does this.  Because He Himself is prophet, priest, and king, He in turn makes us prophets, priests, and kings unto God and His Father (Rev. 1:6)." 

(Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, p. 335)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

the glory of the church

He [Jesus] said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  
Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:15-18 ESV)

"How clear that no other institution in all the world is comparable to the Christian church in point of glory!  The glory of the greatest, wealthiest, most powerful and most resplendent empire of all history was as nothing, yes less than nothing, in comparison with the glory of the church of Christ.

"Small wonder that of all the countless organizations in the world the Redeemer fondly claims only the church as his very own.  'Upon this Rock,' said He, 'I will build my church.' The church alone is 'his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.' (Ephesians 1:23)"

(R. B. Kuiper, The Glorious Body of Christ, p. 40)

The stain glass window above, "New Jerusalem," is at the First Presbyterian Church in Muskegon, Michigan. 

all races

"[you] have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all."  (Colossians 3:10-11 ESV)

"The ultimate solution to the race problem is found in Christianity.  No matter how great the differences among the races may be, in Christ they are one, and believers of all races are members of His body."   (R. B. Kuiper, The Glorious Body of Christ, p. 282)

Monday, August 4, 2014

habakkuk 2:14

HDR photo I took of the ocean from the Outer Banks, NC, this summer.  Just needed this verse to complete the idea.