Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Limit of Finite Reason

"God, who is the pinnacle of truth, never asks us to believe anything that is irrational. There are no contradictions in the Christian faith. However, because we are dealing with a God who inhabits a transcendent level of reality; at every turn we are confronted with truth that is suprarational. No matter how carefully we study the Bible and logically piece together our theology, there will always be something left over, something we can't easily understand, when were done...

...These questions, good ones all, are signs that we are approaching the boundary between God and His creation. Because we inhabit the lower creaturely level of this dualism, there should be many such questions that we can't begin to answer. They may be entertaining brandishes, appropriately aimed at the poor fellow fielding questions from his ordination council, but in the end we have to admit that we just don't know. That's okay, for the same ontological distinction between God and creation that prevents us from knowing the answers also informs us where the answers lie and why we can't know them. The answers lie with God, and we can't know them because we're not Him."

(Heaven Is a Place on Earth, Michael E. Wittmer (Zondervan, 2004) Pgs. 48-49)

Two years ago, I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Wittmer give an abbreviated account of the thesis of this book during several adult Bible school classes at our church.

The above comments are actually a kind of side bar to Wittmer's main point; that is our confusing the ontological nature of created things with the ethical use of those created things, and the full cosmic nature of Christ's redemptive work. Are you letting a Neo-Platonic world view color your view and understanding of God , His Word, and the Christian life? In your theological constructions are you inadvertently worshipping at the baal of your own reason?

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~
Eric's Story: I watched this young man grow up. He's about the same age as my younger daughter. We've known his family since before he was born. He recently posted his testimony on his Xanga site. I would encourage you to read it and be encouraged by the story of the Soverign grace of God in this young man's life.

By Grace Alone,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Sermon on the Mount:
Absolute Ideal & Absolute Grace

"...Jesus did not proclaim the Sermon on the Mount so that we would, Tolstoy-like, furrow our brows in despair over our failure to achieve perfection. He gave it to impart to us God's Ideal toward which we should never stop striving, but also to show that none of us will ever reach that Ideal. The Sermon on the Mount forces us to recognize the great distance between God and us, and any attempt to reduce that distance by somehow moderating its demands misses the point altogether.

The worst tragedy would be to turn the Sermon on the Mount into another form of legalism; it should rather put an end to all legalism. Legalism like the Pharissees' will always fail, not because it is to strict but because it is not strict enough. Thunderously, inarguably, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves and coveters. We are all desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace."

(The Jesus I Never Knew Phillip Yancey; (Zondervan,1995); page 144)

Yancey's discussion of the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most helpful I've ever read. Yancey writes in a style that is theological without being "theological". Truth is articulated in a way that the person in the pew can understand. I highly recommend this book.

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Patience in Light of the Blessed Hope

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience..."
Galatians 5:22a

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1b-2

One of the fruits of contemplating the blessed hope of Titus 2:13 is that of patience. If this world is all we will have, then why would we not want it all now? How a materialist lives is very logical if indeed this life is all we have.

But it's not. The blessed hope tells us there is more then just this brief life. There is an eternity to come, an eternity to be spent with God in a fully redeemed creation, or to be spent apart from God alone in ones own bitterness and selfishness. The hope of a redeemed resurrection body and a redeemed creation and a redeemed relationship with God through Jesus Christ and redeemed relationships with one another means we can be patient. We don't have to be in a hurry to get it all now.

Jesus is our example of being patient in light of our blessed hope. It was for the joy set before Him that He endured. The point in Hebrews is that in like manner we are to imitate Him and endure by remembering the joy set before us, ie- our blessed hope.

What does this mean?

- I can be patient with the providence of God. Whatever the momentary trial, better days are coming. Yes, this is just another more polite way of saying I can be patient with God. Remember Job?

- I can be patient in dealing with others, especially fellow Christians. Yes they are not perfect, but neither am I, but one day we both will be, so I can wait until then to see God's plan for that person perfected. This has special implication for family relationships.

- I can be more patient with myself. It's not about me and what I do or don't do. It's about what Jesus Christ has done and will do on my behalf. It's about His grace alone, and one day the desires of my heart as related in the previous post, will be fulfilled.

Praise be to God!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Blessed Hope

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Titus 2:11-14

This mention of the blessed hope is focused on the eschatological appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, and indeed He is the center and foundation of all our hope, and His coming again is central to the full actualization of all we ultimately hope for.

It is that "all we ultimately hope for" that I've given some thought to recently. What do we ultimately hope for?

- To see Christ face to face and love Him fully and wholeheartedly without sin.

- To see His purpose in redemption completed in all it's cosmic and creational scope, that is in the resurrection of the body and the inauguration of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

- To finally wholeheartedly and unreservedly love one another without sin, and thus being able to enjoy a fullness of relationship to one another not possible in a fallen and not yet fully redeemed world.

- To have rest from the impact of the fall and the resulting curse that is upon creation and our labor in particular.

- To fully wholeheartedly glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

What else would you add?

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's Just a Game The Steelers beat the Colts! That's pretty neat in my mind. But even as I say it I am aware of how transitory such glory is. It's a game... We enjoy it... We're glad "our" team won.... But a few months from now, or a year from now, or 10 years from now the memory will have faded...

John Grisham's story Bleachers deals with that very fact of the transitory nature of glory as found in the sports world. If you ever played a high school sport, you may want to read that book. Such glory is momentary, but living takes a lifetime.

As Christians, we recognize there is more to life then the transitory glory of this world, and there is a glory to be sought that goes beyond this life...

Sola Deo Gloria!

~ The Billy Goat ~

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lola Mattfeld - RIP

Yesterday we received word that our friend Lola Mattfeld passed away Monday night at her home in Spokane, WA. She had struggled for a number of years with cancer. We knew the Mattfelds from our days at Grace Seminary in Winona Lake, IN. She was a very dear Christian sister and a good friend to my wife. Please pray for her husband Bob, her two sons Paul and Nathen with their wives, and her grandchildren. Here is the notice as published on Lola's Caring Bridge page.

MONDAY, JANUARY 09, 2006 09:24 PM, CST

Lola passed away peacefully tonight at 8:55pm. My son, Paul and I were at her bed side when she breathed her last breath. Lola had begun feeling bad earlier on Friday. We had learned that Lola’s Platelets had fallen really low, while her white cells had spike higher. The Hospice nurse told us her MDS had turned for the worse. She had just gotten a blood transfusion about two weeks ago. By Sunday night she really began getting really tired. Monday morning she was becoming delirious. The day was very difficult for her as she struggled finding much comfort. This all happened way too quickly!

Our Pastor, Paul and I prayed with Lola this evening as she seemed to be in peaceful agreement of the Lord’s presence with her. Proverbs says, “ a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”. I give tribute to a wonderful woman who was the Lord’s treasure. I will miss her dearly.

Thank you all for your prayerful support over the many months as she went through her stem cell transplant ordeal. This has indeed been the most difficult time of our lives. Your prayers and support has made it a little easier for both of us. Her Memorial may be this coming weekend.

God Bless you all



Monday, January 09, 2006

More Odds & Ends

Bridge for Dummies by Eddie Kantar. Several ages ago, while at college, some Fraternity brothers tried to teach me Bridge. Of course I forgot most of it. This book was in my Christmas stocking, so now I understand a little better what the guy who writes the Bridge column in the newspaper is talking about. Maybe someday I'll even have time to take up the game again.

Go Longhorns!!! My wife's nephew graduated from UT in Austin. We're told he was wearing a pretty big grin on his face when Texas beat USC in the Rose Bowl.

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers get past a tough Indianapolis Colt team next week? Will a wild card team end up in the Super Bowl? Stay tuned....

Did I tell you we saw "The Lion, The Witch, & the Wardrobe"? It was VERY well done. I recommend it.

Sola Deo Gloria,

~ The Billy Goat ~

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Of This and That:
Being a List of Somewhat Random and Disjointed Comments

Not having a PC or ISP connection at home has been good for us as a family over all. But it also means that I'm not always able to blog as often as I may sometimes want to. Ideas that need careful construction have to wait. News and other blog posts I'd like to post comment on in this place get passed over. This will be a kind of random catch up post.

From My Christmas Stocking:

Greek/English Interliner New Testament: I've found this a VERY helpful study tool. Some of the Greek I learned from seminary so many years ago is starting to come back.

The Edge of Eternity by Randy Alcorn. John Bunyan wrote "Pilgrims Progress". C. S. Lewis wrote "Pilgrim's Regress". Alcorn has brought the concept into the 21st century.

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey. Let's face it. The stories we learned in Sunday school class were "sanitized". What did it really mean for the eternal Son of God to live as a man in this fallen world?

Worship: Michael W. Smith: I enjoyed this. Others may not depending on their view of music and worship.

The Fourth Wiseman: Martin Sheen before he was Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. I have always enjoyed this apocryphal story; a story of one man's faith and hope.

Joshua: What would happen if Jesus visited your town? The ecumenical aspect of this story will probably be a turn off for many.

My friend Paulos recently had a post that illustrated the Proverb that "A soft answer turns away wrath." It's a worthwhile post that you may read here.

Exegetical Musings: Is the "Lord"s Day of Revelation 1:10 referring to the first day of the week (the majority view), or is it John's way of speaking of what Paul and Peter call "the Day of the LORD" (minority view)? I do not have time to develope this, only to say my own preference, based on grammatical and contextual concerns, is the minority view. By the way this is not a "make or break" text for the church's meeting on the first day of the week.

I'm at the local library and my time is about to expire.

Peace to all who love Jesus,

~ The Billy Goat ~