Wednesday, October 21, 2020

"Eisegete or Exegete?"

Hebrews 9.19-20 NASU

“For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.’”

When my oldest child was about two years old she made her first attempt at reading. It was a comical episode in her young life. Christina proudly positioned her book on her lap, as she’d often seen others do, cleared her throat, and began talking to the book! She modeled exactly what (she thought) big people did when they read… pick up a book, open it, and talk to the words on the page! Though she did not know it, Christina was pretending to read.

Today Christina is a successful C.P.A. and a wonderful mother. She is highly educated and definitely knows how to read! But as a toddler, Christina had not yet grasped the concept.

Moses knew how to read and write. He fully grasped the concept. According to Acts 7.22, Moses was a literate and well educated Hebrew. “Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord” (Exodus 24.4) in a document he called “the Book of the Covenant.” Moses served as a scribe and a spokesman for the Lord’s message. He was a divine mouthpiece, a true and honest reader and communicator of God’s word

A true reader allows the words of the book to make their intended impact. A pretend reader imposes his own thoughts upon the text. 

Moses sprinkled blood on “both the book itself and all the people” in an ancient ritual symbolically sealing the terms of the relationship between the book’s Author (God) and the book’s audience (Moses and the ancient Hebrews). Moses “took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people” (Exodus 24.7). He did not talk to the words by interpreting them through the filter of his own limited understanding. He simply read God’s word publicly and let it speak for itself.

A new and permanent covenant relationship exists between the Lord and all honest Bible readers who refuse to view Scripture through the lens of their own opinions and experience. We, the people of the Book, must allow the Author of the Book to define the terms of the relationship by the “blood of the covenant” that binds us.

_________________

Note on the Title: Exegesis literally means “to draw the meaning out of” a given text. Eisegesis, by contrast, is the practice of reading one's own interpretation into a text. An exegete makes every attempt to view the text objectively, while an eisegete replaces the clear and most obvious meaning of a passage with subjective opinion.

The painting above is entitled "Reading Young Man" by famous Romanian painter Ignat Bednarik (1882-1963). He suffered from progressive blindness beginning at about the age of fifty-six until his death. Discover his beautiful art at http://www.bednarik.non-profit.nl/index.htm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

"Everything is Becoming Obsolete"

Hebrews 8.13 NKJV

“In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

The only constant is change. Change is inevitable. Nothing you take in with your senses will exist tomorrow as it did today. Living things grow old. People age. They change. Times change and times change all things. We cannot depend on what is for long. What is becomes what was in the literal blink of an eye or a single beat of your heart. Flexibility becomes your only ally against the opposing forces of change.

The earth is in a constant state of change… earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis happen. Buildings that are rigid and not bolted to solid ground crumble and are swept away at the onslaught of unrelenting geologic pressures. Structures firmly attached to terra firma and built with flexible components may sway and shake in the storm, but remain standing after the storm.

We must anticipate and embrace the storms of change, as uncomfortable or frightening as they are. Change is hardest for those hardened against it. The “new covenant” was offensive to hard-line, hard-core, hard-hearted first century Hebrews. A Crucified Messiah was not what they expected or wanted. It was a ‘God-thing’ nevertheless.

Remain rigid and die. Stay flexible and grounded, and you will survive the unpredictable gale forces of change. Get ready for change. “For what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Prepare for something new.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now
it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Jeremiah 43.19a NIV

_________________


The beautiful, hand-crafted quilts posted above are entitled "Spring Melody" and "Winds of Change" and used by permission of designer / artist Karen Eckmeier. You may veiw her incredible work at The Quilted Lizard Fiber Art Studio (http://www.quilted-lizard.com/).

Monday, October 19, 2020

"Melchizedek"

Hebrews 7.16 NASU

“…not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.”


I am intrigued by the character Melchizedek, named only in Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and the letter to the Hebrews, chapters 5, 6, and 7.  
  • Melchizedek is a type of Jesus. Jesus is his anti-type. [1]
  • Melchizedek, like Jesus, was both a priest and a king.
  • Abraham offered Melchizedek 10% of his plunder from a recent battle.
  • Melchizedek offered bread and wine to Abraham.
  • Melchizedek, the greater, blessed Abraham, the lesser.
  • Melchizedek, like Jesus, was greater than the Levitical priesthood established four hundred years after Melchizedek.
  • King David’s messianic Psalm 110 compared Melchizekek with Jesus.
  • Melchizedek was a real, historical person. He was not a pre-existent visitation of Jesus, an angel, or the Holy Spirit. It is unlikely that he was Noah’s son Shem, as some commentators assert.
  • Melchizedek had parents, but no genealogical record of his ancestry, birth or death has existed or been discovered since the time of Abraham.
  • Melchizedek served the same one true God (El Elyon “God Most High”) that Abraham did (Elohim, Hebrew for “God”).
  • Melchizedek’s station as a priest was conferred by God, not earned by virtue of his birthright.
Like Melchizedek and Abraham, no eternal merit may be accomplished through my ancestry. I bring nothing to the table. My salvation is conferred, not earned. My station in the Kingdom of God is not on the basis of an artificial physical requirement or legal association. My relationship with God is an undeserved gift freely bestowed. It is the result of God’s selfless act of redemption and His proven by His unfathomable love with the gift of His Son.

The fulfillment of His purpose in me depends solely on “the power of an indestructible life.” That is, of course, the life of Jesus Christ who lives in me.

_____________

[1] Typology is the study of person, events, or symbols that foreshadow things to come. In the Bible, a “type” often refers to an Old Testament figure who “typifies” or finds its fulfillment in Christ. For example, in Romans 5.14 NAS Paul called Adam a “type of Him [Jesus] who was to come.” In this example Adam is the “type” and Jesus is the “antitype.” To further illustrate, Noah’s ark and the flood is a “type” for which baptism is the “antitype.” See 1st Peter 3.20-21.

Image from http://mysterysolvedwithmessiahjesus.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/what-exactly-does-it-mean-to-return-to-the-jewish-roots-of-the-christian-faith/golden-star-of-david/.

Friday, October 16, 2020

"The Art of Imitation"

Hebrews 6.12 NIV

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

Did you ever want to run away and join the circus? I did. As a boy, I dreamt of traveling the world as a juggler or lion tamer or trapeze artist. It was just dream for me, but there are people who actually do that. Circus performers were heroes in my young mind and I wanted to be just like them.

In September 2006 my wife and I took our youngest children to the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus. It was magical, imaginative, and colorful. My kids loved it. So did I. The “Greatest Show on Earth” rekindled my early desire to travel with a troupe of acrobats, magicians, and clowns entertaining children around the world. I still want to train lions, ride elephants, and take a pie in the face for a laugh.

One month later, Adonica and I attended a very different circus with close friends and clients. Our eyes and ears overflowed with fantastic costumed and lighted images and rhythmic sounds of world music in the Guy Laliberté production of Cirque Du Soleil’s “Delirium.” This circus is not for kids but it did throw me back to my childhood. The hula-hoopsters, musicians, and dancers were fearless and powerful. They displayed their amazing talent with a grace that seemed to defy reality. It was transcendent, almost supernatural. I wished I was young enough to train to be a circus performer.

I imagine every successful circus professional started out with a dream just like me. At some crucial point, the emerging entertainer made the decision to run away and join the circus. To earn an audition, the performer ‘wanna-be’ had to live and breathe the essence of Hebrews 6.12...
  • overcome laziness in the practice of his/her skill
  • exhibit great faith and patience
  • imitate other successful circus performers
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who
through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

God gives dreams. You have one. Don’t be lazy. Open your eyes. Who is living your dream? Do what they did. Practice the art of imitation. Persevere. No successful performer on the circus stage of life got and stayed there by accident. It started with a dream. Then there was practice, practice, and more practice. Faithful dedication to the pursuit of excellence and patient repetition of your craft is mandatory to achieve your goal to stand before the great audiences of Ringling, Barnum, Bailey, Laliberté, and the world stage.

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who
through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”



Thursday, October 15, 2020

"Don't Talk to Strangers"

Hebrews 5.13-14 NASU

“For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

Milk is introductory food for the newly born. Milk helps a baby grow strong. Solid food is for older children and adults who have developed the capacity to chew and digest food with substance. The plan is growth. No one stays on a strict diet of milk for long.

Believers are supposed to grow up. Brand new converts will not immediately partake in “the word of righteousness.” They are not expected to grasp Scripture beyond the basic truths of the person and work of Jesus, personal salvation, and the fellowship of believers in the body of Christ (see Hebrews 6.1-2). 

But there is more… There is the on-going battle with the enemy of our souls. Mature Christians will face temptations, trials, and times of testing. We are targeted for destruction by the devil. We will be tried to the breaking point and pressured to quit the church, lose our faith, and say “yes” to sin. Therefore, as strong, growing, healthy believers we must...
  • Press into the word of God.
  • Become “accustomed to the word of righteousness.”
  • Partake of “solid food.”
  • “Practice” their faith daily.
  • Train “their senses... to discern good and evil.”
  • Read the Bible.
  • Obey the Bible.
  • Prepare to suffer. 
  • Pray.
  • Persevere.
  • Trust Jesus in all things.
Children are targets of predators who commit heinous crimes. These lost souls know children are naïve and readily fooled. A child’s senses are not yet “trained to discern good and evil.” A bad person with evil intentions can easily confuse or trick a child into believing a lie that could cost the child’s life.


As adults, we understand this awful potential so we train our children not to talk to strangers, and accept neither rides or candy from them. As our kids grow up, they naturally develop a sense of right and wrong. Through practice, trial and error, and the experience of age-appropriate, natural consequences, children learn to correctly distinguish good from evil. It is not necessary to remind an older teenager not to speak to strangers. An adolescent can sense ‘stranger danger’ and, if he or she has matured sufficiently, will choose to avoid suspicious people and questionable situations.

Young adults can sidestep the pitfalls of the ‘hard life’ if they listen to the wisdom of loving parents and their “word of righteousness.” Similarly, we must train our senses to hear and apply “the word of righteousness” found in the pages of Scripture. We are designed to grow up and partake of solid spiritual food. We learn by “practice” to “discern good and evil” so we can make right decisions and stay away from the alluring voice of demonic strangers.

“For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word
of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who
because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

______________

School food clip art in this post was created by illustrator Mark A. Hicks. Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery for use by teachers on the Discovery Education website (http://www.discoveryschool.com/).

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

"Pending Faith"

Hebrews 4.2b NASU

“…but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”

God’s word will not benefit me unless I receive it by faith. I must believe what He says.

Successful salespeople depend on customers who exhibit genuine interest and real motivation to own what they have to sell. Clients must believe in the product or service the vendor is promoting. It also helps if the customer trusts the salesperson. Confidence in the messenger carries weight in the buyer’s decision-making process.

Faith in the message and the messenger is essential in every effective transaction. Without faith, the sale will remain in “pending” status. It will not close. No sale is made, no profit is gained, and no one benefits. Faith moves the transaction forward from offer to negotiation, through pending to sold.

Bible reading is good, but not good enough. The truth recorded in the sixty-six books of Scripture was inspired by God Himself and promoted by super-vendors like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David, Solomon, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul. Their words can forever impact one’s life. They are able to shape a personal destiny in ways that transcend imagination. But true believers must go beyond perpetual pending and close the sale. They must believe

The “word,” when “united by faith,” earns a return on investment of time spent in reading, listening to, and learning from the Bible. Pending followers of Jesus (who read the Bible) must get sold (that is, believe the Bible).

“…but the word they heard did... profit them, 
because it was... united by faith in those who heard.” [1]

____________________

[1] The text from Hebrews 4.2 contains a double negative and should remain true if both "not's" are removed from the verse. That is to say, if "the word" does not profit people when it is not "united by faith," then it follows that there is great value in "the word" when it is combined with "faith" by those who read and hear it.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

"Be Faithful"

Hebrews 3.5-6 NIV

“Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house.






















“And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.”

Some days I am hugely UN-inspired. The Bible fails to rouse my spirit from its tired and apathetic state. No fresh insights emerge to shake me loose from the ho-hum-ness of predictable living. My daily practice of P B & J (prayer, Bible, and journaling) produces nothing profound.

God’s Word says:
  1. Moses was faithful and Jesus was faithful.
  2. Moses was a servant in God’s house. Jesus was a son over God’s house.
  3. Believers from all generations comprise the house of God.
  4. I am part of God's house if I hold on to courage and hope.
I need courage and hope to remain faithful when my energy is down and my outlook is bleak. Some days are less inspirational than others. I can accept that. Sometimes, in my Christian walk, I must simply push forward by faith.

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
2nd Corinthians 5.7 NAS

Like Moses and Jesus and all other saints before me... I choose to remain faithful... faithful to my loved ones, faithful to my calling and vocation, and faithful to the promises I've made. No matter how I feel, faithfulness is always the right choice.

'Down' is a temporary condition. Positive inspiration, godly desires, good feelings, and holy ambition, like Jesus Christ Himself, will soon return. Until that moment, I “...hold on to our courage and the hope.” I must have faith and remain faithful!

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11.1 NASU

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him,...”
Hebrews 11.6 NASU

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge
of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!’”
Matthew 25.21 NIV

Monday, October 12, 2020

"Are You Ready to Sky Dive?"

Hebrews 2.3a NKJV

“…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”
 
My son Stanford and I went skydiving for his eighteenth birthday.[1] Even my seventy-one year old father-in-law, Ralph, joined us. Each one of us stepped off an airplane at 13,500 feet with a dive master strapped to our backs in our first (and my only) ‘tandem dive.’

Why did we do it? I suspect Stanfor wanted to experience the thrill (and thrill it was) of free-falling at a speed of over one hundred miles per hour for nearly sixty (very long) seconds. I did it because Stan wanted me to go with him. (I’m not sure why Ralph would do such a crazy thing.) I’m now glad I jumped but I would not have put skydiving on the top of my birthday list!

The event was anything but ‘ho-hum.’ I was not bored. My senses were tweaked to the max. Contained deep in my soul was a singular purpose to which I was 100% committed… to land safely on planet earth! This was the goal of my salvation and dive master Bobby was my savior.

At pre-jump ground school we were told things can go wrong. People die jumping out of airplanes. Chutes don’t open. Equipment fails. Airplanes crash. In the unlikely event of an unexpected incident of this kind there was one rule and one rule only… do exactly what your dive master says. Don’t argue. Don’t talk. Don't even think. Just shut up and obey dive master Bobby’s every command.

About fifty years ago I strapped Jesus Christ to my back and together we made a tandem leap of faith. I am still hurling toward heaven at an incredible speed. I have one goal… to land safely on heaven’s ground. Things sometimes go very wrong. I feel afraid. Will I make it to heaven? Will my chute open on time? I am comforted by my belief that Jesus is infinitely qualified to have full control of my free fall through life. On my own I will fall to certain death. Separation from my Heavenly Dive Master is unthinkable. How could I possibly “escape” death if I “neglect so great a salvation?” I’m not about to un-strap myself from my tandem partner. Jesus is my Savior.

It’s always best, especially in times of crisis, to remember the most important rule of faith... shut up and obey Dive Master Jesus’ every command!

“…diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to
do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD
your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.”
Deuteronomy 28.1 NASU

________________

[1] I had a good experience at Skydive Oregon somewhere around September 2006. To learn more, go to http://www.skydiveoregon.com/.

Friday, October 09, 2020

"The Word of His Power"

Hebrews 1.2b, 3b NASU

“His Son… upholds all things by the word of His power.”

The original purpose of the book of Hebrews was to demonstrate the supremacy of Christ in all things for 1st century Jewish converts to Christianity. The book is filled with quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures all of which point to the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who “upholds all things by the word of His power.”

I am intrigued by the phrase “the word of His power.” The ‘power of His word’ implies that God’s spoken or written word contains power in and of itself and that, while the source of the power is God, it achieves independence once it is so imbued.

“The word of His power” suggests God’s power is the central thing and the word’s sole purpose is to express the character of a God who is all powerful.

As incredible as it sounds, highly focused concentration on the written word (the Bible) and the spoken word (preaching) may actually lead one away from the author of the word (Jesus). I can imagine Christians who simply ‘put in their time’ reading the Bible but miss out on the power of God and the inspiration He yearns to impart from the Scriptures. At the other extreme, I have known believers who presume the word of God has power apart from God Himself thus reducing the Bible and its application to magic and something unholy.

It is quite possible for a believer to confuse the Bible with God. The sin of ‘bibolatry’ is deceptively sanctimonious and perhaps even more dangerous than other forms of idol worship insofar as the sinner deludes himself into believing the pursuit of mastery of the Scriptures equates to holiness. Self-righteousness is the obvious result. But, true Bible study should be an act of humility. The purpose for reading the Bible is to achieve transformation of the soul, not simply to gain information about God. We must not make a god of Bible knowledge. God Himself is the sole object of our praise and adoration. The first and second commandments make that truth abundantly clear:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything
in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”
Deuteronomy 5.7-8 NIV

The Greek text of Hebrews 1.3 should be translated “the word of His power” and is so recorded in a variety of Bible versions which lean more toward literal than readable renditions (NASB, NASU, NKJV, KVJ, ESV, ASV). In these translations, God retains the power and the word is nothing more or less than a window into that reality. The word then is a portal through which I may come into contact with the raw nature and unleashed power of God Almighty!

I long to encounter God when I read the Bible. Having heard “the word of His power,” I must push through the text to the heart of Jesus. May God move me beyond the threshold of His word and into the living space of His existence, beyond the safe shoreline of His written truth and into the limitless depths of His immeasurable power.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

"Say Good-Bye"

Philemon 12-13a NAS

“I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me…”

Paul wrote to his close brother in Christ, Philemon, to appeal for leniency on behalf of a runaway slave. Onesimus became a follower of Jesus under the ministry of Paul and the two became such close friends that Paul referred to Onesimus as “my very heart.” With great personal anguish, Paul determined to send Onesimus back to Philemon. In so doing, Paul voluntarily broke his own heart to facilitate a reconciliation between two brothers of opposing social strata. 

Love is risky because it demands that we open our hearts to others around us. Relationships develop and enduring bonds of friendship are established. At some future point, God may call us to break our hearts and send away the precious objects of our love and devotion. This is exactly what Father God did with His own Son (John 3.16).

Love hurts. It’s not cheap. Saying good-bye is only easy if a deep union of love is never created. If you choose to love, prepare to suffer. Here are some good-bye’s that hurt me…
  • The deaths of my dogs Suzie, Shalom, Sandy, Sally 1, and Sally 2. 
  • Leaving the pastoral ministry to work on a failing marriage.
  • The dissolution of my (first) marriage.
  • Leaving Sunset Presbyterian Church.
  • Witnessing my dad’s last breath at the hospice center.
  • Sending my delinquent adolescent daughter to a foster care facility.
  • Watching my seven children grow up.
  • Six children obtaining driver’s licenses.
  • Saying good-bye to my mother and watching her die.  
  • Six children leaving for college.
  • Two daughters and two sons getting married.
  • Two children divorced or separated from spouses I love. 
  • One grown child rejecting me as her father.
  • The loss of my beautiful wife to cancer.  
In every case, love demanded I let go and say good-bye. Each time I wept. It hurt. It still does, if I let it. The precious people (and pets) of my past were meant to become united with my heart. As in the case of Jonathan whose soul “was knit with the soul of David” (1st Samuel 18.1 KJV), the fabric of my heart has become woven and unalterably intertwined with the people I have loved. Also, like David and Jonathan, or Paul and Onesimus, I cannot keep any of them. 

I found this in my journal on October 9th, 2014: 

There is no one I love on earth more than my (second) wife Adonica. I was smitten when I first met her and am still ‘head over heels’ in love 18 1/2 years after we both said 'I do.' I have discovered in this closest of all possible earthly relationships the great joy of both being loved and of having my love received. I am in heaven. Someday I will be required to let go of this woman. I hope our good-bye will be many years in the future. Adonica came into my life as an angel, a gift from heaven, proof of God’s great love for me. I was Ebenezer Scrooge. I woke up from a bad dream and was given a second chance at life on the day I met this woman. 

What I could not then know when I first penned these words, was that just twenty-two days later, Adonica would be diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. She lasted ten months, before I was forced to send my wounded heart back to Jesus at 12:14 p.m. on Sunday, August 30th, 2015. Adonica came to me as a gift from Jesus and He took her back just over five years ago. She came. We loved. She left. [1] I shall forever treasure and deeply miss this amazing woman, but my confidence in a God who can mend my broken heart is greater than the depth of the pain I still feel, but with lessening intensity. 

Our good-bye was an event of inestimable pain. She was my heart. I am now pray to my Father in heaven in the words of Paul to Philemon: 

“I have sent her back to You in person, that is,
sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me.”
Philemon 12-13a NAS


_____________________

The incredible acrylic painting at the top right is called "I Give You My Heart" and used by permission of artist S.M. Lein. Check out his graphics at http://www.artgonekra-z.com/index.html.

[1] How to Survive the Loss of a Love, Colgrove, Bloomfield, McWilliams, (c) 1976, 1991, adapted from poem on page 131 "You came. We loved. You left."

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

"As for Me and My Foot"

Titus 3.8b NASU

“…and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds.”

How do the various Bible versions compare?
“speak confidently”
New American Standard Bible
“stress these things”
New International Version
“affirm constantly”
King James Version
New King James Version
Douay-Rheims Bible
Noah Webster’s Bible (1833)
“give special emphasis”
Today’s English Version
Good News Translation
“insist on them”
New Living Translation
The Living Bible

“insist on these things”
Revised Standard Version
English Standard Version
God’s Word Translation
Holman Christian Standard Bible

“insist steadfastly”
The Amplified Bible

“insistas con firmeza”
Reina Valera-Revisada 1960

“insist strenously”
The Darby Bible
New Testament in Modern Speech (Weymouth)

“affirm confidently”
American Standard Version
World English Bible

“give certain witness”
Bible in Basic English

“speak with confidence”
Complete Jewish Bible

“insist that people follow”
Contemporary English Version

“be sure that the people understand”
Easy-to-Read Version

“be sure the people understand”
New Century Version

“insist on such truths”
New English Translation Bible

“be constantly strongly assertive”
Wuest Expanded New Testament

“affirm fully”
Young’s Literal Translation

Of all the translations and paraphrases I read this morning, one distills the essence of truth contained in each version of this great verse…

“I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand
on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will
concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone.”
Titus 3.8 “The Message”

So “concerning these things”…
  • the things of which Paul wrote
  • the great truths of the Bible
  • the Lordship of Jesus Christ
  • the decision to obey God
  • the love of God for you and me
  • following Jesus
  • being led by the Holy Spirit
… of these things I am commanded to put my foot down and stand firm, to stress and affirm their importance, to insist strenuously, and communicate with absolute confidence. Before I can stand I must place each foot on the ground. Before I can take a stand, I must put my foot down. As for me and my foot,[1] we will take our stand on Christ.[2]

“On Christ the solid rock I stand
 All other ground is sinking sand
 All other ground is sinking sand”

___________________

The beautiful and creative image of the foot made from drops of water was created by Canadian photographer Ronald Tsang (http://www.ronaldtsang.com/). 

[1] From Joshua's final command to the Israelites: "But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24.15c).   

[2] “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” also known as “On Christ the Solid Rock” was written in 1832 by Edward Mote, and the tune in 1863 by William B. Bradbury.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

"Have Conviction"

Titus 2. 15

“You must teach these things and encourage your people to do them, correcting them when necessary. You have the authority to do this, so... 

...dont let anyone ignore you or disregard what you say.” [1]

























Fourteen years ago I attended a leadership seminar in Portland [2] and heard outstanding speakers address the condition of our country and how to make it better. I was super-charged by inspirational giants like Zig Ziglar, Steve Forbes, Tommy Hopkins, and General Colin Powell.

Perhaps the greatest impact came from the man who wrote the book on leadership [3]. He is the former Mayor of New York City who caught the world’s attention in his brilliant response to the attack by terrorists on 9/11/01. As Rudolf Giuliani took center stage and the music blared Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” streamers of patriotic colors and confetti, like snow in a blinding blizzard, descended on 15,000 people at the Rose Quarter in Portland. The mayor was making the first point in his well rehearsed speech when a late-arriving piece of white confetti gently glided to the notebook on my lap. Here was Mr. Giuliani’s point:

“Know what you believe. Have conviction.”
Mayor Rudolf Giuliani, October 9th, 2006

I wrote his words on the one in a million pieces of confetti that would not be swept up from the arena floor that night and thrown in the garbage along with all the remaining event debris. Later that night I Scotch taped this solitary piece of confetti in my Bible next to this verse:

“These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”
Titus 2.15 NASU

I know what I believe and am convicted by its truth. About this truth, I am commanded to speak with authority and become impossible to ignore.
_____________________

[1] Scripture Titus 2.15 from the New Living Translation (NLT), 1996, 2004, Tyndale Charitable Trust, probably from the original 1996 version. The second edition NLT reads as follows: "You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don't let anyone disregard what you say."

[2] The event "Get Fired Up!" was a Get Motivated Seminar sponsored by Portland Business Alliance Members held at the Rose Garden Arena on October 9, 2006. 

[3] Leadership, Rudolf Giuliani, Hyperion, New York, 2002.