Friday, January 23, 2015

A few thoughts on the Teachings of Marcus Borg

A friend posted on the death of Marcus Borg yesterday. She called him an inspirational and thinking theologian. Here are some of my thoughts regarding the theological thoughts of Marcus Borg.
I really have issues with his take on the events surrounding the birth of Christ. When speaking of the miracles concerning the birth of Christ Borg wrote:
"To be candid, I do not think that any of this happened. Of course, there is some historical memory in the stories. Jesus was born. He really lived. He was Jewish. His parents’ names were Mary and Joseph. They lived in Nazareth, a very small peasant village, perhaps as small as a few hundred. But I do not think that there was an annunciation by an angel to Mary, or a virginal conception, or a special star, or wisemen from the East visiting the infant Jesus, or angels filling the night with glory as they sang to shepherds.
Yet I am not a “debunker” of these stories. I do not dismiss them as “fables” or “fabrications” or “falsehoods.” Many in the modern world do see the two options as “it happened this way” or “it didn’t” – and if it didn’t, then we are dealing with delusions and deceptions. A few years ago, a television special on these stories posed the question that way: are they “fact or fable”?
There is a third option. Namely, the Christmas stories with their miraculous elements were not intended to be “factual” in the sense of reporting what actually happened. Rather, they are early Christian testimony, written roughly a hundred years after Jesus’s birth. They testify to the significance that Jesus had come to have in their lives and experience and thought. The stories are parabolic, metaphorical narratives that can be true without being factual" (From Dr. Borg’s blog on Patheos:
Seems like many brilliant people cannot believe in the miraculous. They want to explain it away but still call themselves Christian theologians. Yet, the very creation of the earth was a miracle. Scientist cannot explain it. They try and they fail. A finite being cannot create something out of nothing. If you prefer to think it all began with a Big Bang, a lingering and sobering question still remains. Where did the elements come from that produced the bang? The cosmos had to have a beginning and the beginner of it (the creator), had to be one of superior intellect and with the ability to create out of nothing, which seems to suggest that the miraculous was involved.
Borg and others in his camp want to take this amazing fact away from God - God can do anything He desires to do. Man cannot begin to understand the mind or the workings of the Father. Yes, I have many questions. I want to know how God operates in the miraculous. But, for now I have to trust and wait.
1 Corinthians 13:12 sums up my attitude on many issues.
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known" (NASB).

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Look of Success

When the men came to Him (Jesus), they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’ ” (Luke 7: 20, NASB).

The Look of Success

Success when doing the kingdom's work does not always appear as success with mortal finite eyes. A popular false doctrine proclaims that when we are following God's direction, His blessings will be evident. However, that is not often the case with the one who has sacrificed his or her life to seeking and doing the will of the Father.

John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of Christ and yet, his earthly reward was prison and beheading. The world would not proclaim execution as success. In fact, many of our current popular Bible teachers and pastors would probably be telling John that he missed the mark. "John, if you were following God's direction and listening to His spirit, you would not find yourself in such a mess. Obviously, you went off on your own because God would have blessed you and your efforts."

However, the purpose of John's life was not to promote himself to a larger ministry, a bigger house and a newer car. His purpose was to point folks to Jesus. His question was not based on John's believing that he had missed the mark, but was an inquiry, "Are you Jesus, my cousin, the one?"

This question was not for John's ease of mind. John wanted to tell his followers either, "Yes, Jesus is the one." Or, "No, look for another." His concern was for his followers.

What great joy must have enveloped his heart and soul when the response from Christ  was, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Luke 7: 22, NASB).

John died knowing that the Messiah, of whom He taught, had arrived in the flesh. John never assumed that he was commissioned to elevate himself. His life was to help prepare hearts to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

Dear servants of God, your success is not based on worldly wealth or fame. It is based on one simple truth. Have you fulfilled the mission of pointing others to the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus? Sometimes, there will be material success involved but other times success is not evident in that way. Your purpose is to promote Jesus not self. Occasionally, success in the kingdom will cost you all you hold dear even to the point of your life.

Be Blessed,

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Today's thoughts...

Jeremiah 39:18 (ESV):

"For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the Lord.”

Despite the brevity of this verse,  it holds some significant meaning for us. First, Jeremiah said these words to  Ebed-melech the Ethiopian because this man trusted in the words of the prophet. God's chosen people and their kings had rejected the message. Unfortunately for them, they would surely suffer the consequence of abandoning God and his instructions. Yet, an Ethiopian's faith and trust in the man sent from God would save him. Most of us, like the Ethiopian are adopted into the family of God.

Secondly, this message should help define our behavior today. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. Despite the injustice and the immoral behavior that is rampant in our nation, we are called to speak the truth of the scripture and to trust Christ. A watered down message has no power to overcome sin.

This may mean that we get dropped into a cistern and sink deep into the mud. But, we are called to passionately maintain and keep our faith. We are still called to speak the truth of God's words.

Remember, the truth is not only for you but for those who hear and heed it. An important point to notice here, Jeremiah, who was imprisoned and punished, kept saying the truth of the message. We want this short verse to be his reward; yet, this word was for an Ethiopian who had heard the message and trusted God.

Be of good cheer, you may be ridiculed and feel stuck in deep mud, but you are called to speak the truth of scripture. The calling to do this task not to simply save and bless yourself but to bless the listeners. Be resolved today to continue to preach the truth with your words and actions. Remember, your faith and trust in God has already saved you. You no longer face eternal damnation. Now, it is time to put on your spiritual armor and march into battle and bravely defend and live the gospel of Christ. Our task is not to kill the unbeliever but to point him to Christ so that he may be saved.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Surrender of the Will

"'My determination is to be my utmost for His Highest.' To get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of will, an absolute and irrevocable surrender on that point" (January 1, Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).

Yesterday's reading set the tone of this lovely daily devotion book. It also spoke to this rather broken heart of mine. The "surrender of will" is such a difficult thing to do. We are taught from earliest education to strive, to succeed, to think on our own. Then we come to the teaching of scripture and the apostle Paul tells us to surrender with complete abandonment to God. Surrendering to God can become an insurmountable task for those of us who have struggled. Trusting God is a difficult occupation when parents, family and people claiming to know Christ have wounded one deeply.

Much of our understanding for God develops from the people we come in contact with that claim to know Him. When these people prove to be impostors, those blasted wolves in sheep's clothing, they damage the entire body of Christ. In order for us to understand the intended relationship with God, He is often portrayed as Father. Yet, when one's earthly father has failed miserably in his duty and love as a father, this analogy is hard to understand, let alone accept.

This is the situation with which I battle. I have often felt like I was peering into the window of a neighbor's home where the father and mother truly love their children. Therefore, I have often described my relationship with God as His forgotten stepchild. Not as one who is truly His daughter or the recipient of His selfless love, but close enough to see a father's love poured out on His true children. Trusting God with my will is a challenge for me on occasions since I have rarely felt invited to the inner circle of His home and hearth.  When those who should have cherished you such as one’s parents, grandparents and sisters, have damaged your heart the picture of God as Father and Christ as Brother can be rather offensive and hurtful.

Yet, I long to have a Father who loves me and embraces me with the gentleness of a sweet summer's eve. I desire to lazily sit on the porch swing with Him and hear His direction and know that His advice comes to me because I am His beloved daughter and not an unwanted stepchild.

My heart's cry this year is to keep myself above the trappings and the pain of this world. I intend to trust God as Holy and Loving. To be an ambassador for Christ that draws people to Him and to not act as a repellant is my deep desire. Like Paul, I do not want to ever be ashamed but to continue to submit my stubborn will to Christ's will. True examples of this totality of God-living are hard to find in this world. My prayer is that I can be one of His children choosing to live my life with no thought of my will but only of His with a compete trust in Him.

I want to end my ramblings with a quote from Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) who explained complete trust with the following statement:

"Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God to whom you belong will in his love enable you to profit by them... Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations."

Be Blessed,