Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Touch of Humor - Principles? - The Mad Theologian's Final Post

Which principles do you champion? Are these biblical principles? Have you made your principles most important because they are your principles?


This week, Wednesday July 19th, 2017, just a little after noon, the Mad Theologian's faith became sight. 

Mike Erich passed away at home after a long battle with cancer with his wife at his side. Mike was a brilliant man that will truly be missed at home, at church, and by all those who knew him. Mike was man of deep conviction about the things of the Lord and particularly God's Word which he diligently studied and wrote about. For Mike it has always been about the love of God shown to us in Christ's death on the cross and resurrection where we can find salvation. This is salvation offered freely. The Grace of God in Christ says come give me your sins and I will give you my righteousness. It has never been about what we can do to please God, but rather what God has done to save us. Mike's deepest desire for all people would be that they find salvation in Christ.

I have posted Mike's final cartoon. He was working on this cartoon the few days before his death and it seemed appropriate to post his last work just as he left it. I have added the questions below the cartoon as Mike would typically do. Mike was a man of principle and yet he always let his principles be subject to God's principles. While Mike definitely had his opinions, he always strove to grow into God's opinions about the world and grow in the love, peace, and unity demonstrated to us in Christ. Love people and do that in Grace of God.

Now Mike is with the Lord and I think he would want us to be of good courage. In fact, if he could, he would probably tell us about his move from earth to heaven with A Touch of Humor. I know he would definitely want us to "see" the Bible to understand his absence. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 "6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."

Since becoming a believer in Christ Mike has had it as his highest value to follow and please Christ. And he has done well. Mike is now with the Lord, -and that is a good thing. If you are a follower of Christ then be of good courage, the absence is painful and yet short. Soon we all will get a chance to join Mike and please the Lord. Yesterday Mike's faith became sight.

Finally, if you are not a believer in Christ, Mike would tell you "Come." Come and follow Christ today.

Mike, we love and miss you and look forward to our reunion with you in heaven standing in the Grace of Christ.

Jared Jenkins

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Inside Out

What’s in your heart? Sometimes we can look good on the outside, but the inside is something else. The Pharisees were experts at this, polishing up the outside to hide the inside (Mark 12:41-44; Matthew 23:23-28; 6:1-18). In the final analysis, though, I suppose I am also good at this, and I suspect most of us are. But God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Romans 2:16; Hebrews 4:12,13). And what is naturally inside us is sin (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 7:14; Isaiah 64:6). The problem is, it is not easy to change the heart. Simply gritting one’s teeth and trying harder does not work. A detailed knowledge of the rules does not do it. Self-help schemes fail. And just faking it is not good enough. We need the gospel.
The gospel says that Jesus Christ paid the whole price for sin (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21) and we are saved through faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9). This opens the way for God to begin to change us from the inside out (Ezekiel 36:25-27; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10). Which is motivated by our love for God for what He has done for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Titus 2:11-14), not just to please other people outwardly (Galatians 1:10; Proverbs 29:25; 1 Corinthians 4:3-5). This means that change comes from inside us, rooted in our heart, moved by the love of God, and is not just something we act out externally. Now it does require a response on our part, in being willing to go along with what God is doing in our lives (Galatians 5:16; Colossians 2:6,7; Romans 12:1,2). But this is not something we work up or fake, but something we trust God for (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 37:3-6). Now this is a process that takes place over time and requires our effort (Philippians 3:12-16; 1 Timothy 4:7,8; Hebrews 12:1,2). But it is God who provides the power to do it (2 Peter 1:3; Colossians 1:29; Philippians 2:13). Therefore God is at work in us to transform us. And it starts by changing what we set our heart on (Colossians 3:1-4; 2 Corinthians 3:2,3; Matthew 12:34,35).  For where our heart goes, the rest of us will follow.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Our Story

How should we look at life? I am convinced that are our life is a tale composed and executed by God. Also, that it is part of a larger cosmic tale, a tale that those who trust in Christ have been given an overview of in Scripture. Our story is woven into the larger story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. But there are other ways to view life. We can see it as a grand resort hotel, where we expect all our needs to be met and if they are not, we complain to the management. Or we can see it as a prison, some place where we are trapped and must wait with fortitude and clinched jaw until someday we are released. It can be regarded as an endless treadmill of meaningless tasks that we do because it is what is required of us. And how we see life will affect how we live it. Scripture tells us that God is in control of the world, working all things according to the council of His will (Ephesians 1:11). It also says God is in control of our individual lives, working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). All this is so that He can carry out His purpose in our lives (Ephesians 2:10). But in order for us to properly carry out His purpose in our lives, we need the assistance of the Author.   

Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). But He, through His Spirit, is at work in our lives to transform us and accomplish His purposes in the world (2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29). Therefore, we must trust in Him to accomplish this (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 2 Corinthians 3:5,6). To do this He assists us in our prayer (Romans 8:26,27), bestows on us gifts to enable us to carry out His ministry (Romans 12:3-8), and brings us through our difficulties to ultimate victory (2 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:37). But this does not mean it will always be easy. Rather, we are told to expect problems (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). But these sufferings are put in perspective by what we know of the end of the story (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; Revelation 21:4). But it comes back to, how do we view life? If we see it as a resort hotel, then even relatively minor problems can be devastating. If we see it as a dungeon, they become one more torture to make us grit our teeth and try to endure it. If life is a treadmill, then they become a huge weight, liable to make us stumble and fall off the machine. But if life is a story, these difficulties become one more challenge to overcome on our journey through life to our final destination. And we know how the story ends. How do you view life?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Old Erich Proverb - Imprisoned

The man imprisoned in his own time is locked up in a small gray prison cell.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Voice from the Past - Chesterton

For definitions are very dreadful things: they do the two things that most men, especially comfortable men, cannot endure. They fight; and they fight fair.

G. K. Chesterton,  1874-1936, Utopia of Usurers, V. The Church and the Servile State (Gutenberg Press, produced by Mike Pullen, 2000).

How important is it to define what we are discussing? Can it help keep the discussion fair?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Rustic Faces the Music

There was a rustic who lived on the outskirts of the kingdom and who had gone to the big city to learn how to better serve the King. There was a dispute over what kind of music should be used by the King's army. The rustic, being very ignorant of those sorts of things, obtained a guide to show him the various options.

The first one involved a large pipe organ playing complex hymns. The rustic found the whole thing very majestic. The people wore fine clothes and suits. He was told it was the classical approach.

"This is the older form of music," said the guide.

"Is it the oldest music used by the army?" asked the rustic.

"No, but it is the oldest most people remember."

The next group used the piano. They were simpler, but a more lively. The rustic liked it, though he could see why some modern people might see it as a bit old-fashioned and boring. The people were still wearing their good clothes, but not quite as fancy. This was called the old favorites.

The following group went for a guitar and banjo. They were more lively, and the rustic found himself clapping his hands and stamping his feet. The people were wearing more casual clothes. This approach was called country.

The fourth group had electric guitars and drums. They were louder, with more of a driving beat. The people were dressed considerably more casually, and some of the men had long hair. This music was called soft rock.

The final group had electric guitars, drums, and loudspeakers. They were very fast and loud and nearly blew you out of the room. The rustic liked it, but he saw why some might regard it as too loud and chaotic. The people were very casual, almost a little grungy. This was full scale rock and roll.

As the rustic walked away, he turned to the guide and said, "I do not see anything in the King's manual regarding type of music. Why not allow people whatever they happen to want? Or better yet, learn to respect other people's choice of music and even learn to appreciate the kinds they are not familiar with. I like all of them to some degree and would like to see them all incorporated together."

The guide rolled his eyes to show what he thought of the naivete of this statement.       

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Avoiding Idolatry

How do we tell when something in our life becomes idolatry? Now I am not talking about obviously bad things. I am not even primarily talking about the blatantly addicting things, such as alcohol, smoking, drugs, gambling, and pornography. (It is not part of my purpose here to ask if any of these are acceptable in moderation. But their dangers as potential addictive agents are well known.) But anything can be an idol if we let it take first place in our lives. And these things can be subtle, even insidious, so we have to ask, how do we protect ourselves from something taking the place of God in our lives?

Now God has given us good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 4:3-5; Titus 1:15; James 1:17). But we also need to realize that anything that we put above God is an idol (Colossians 3:5; 1:18; Exodus 20:3). It is well known that money and possessions can fall into this category. But so can other good things, like entertainment, recreation, family, friends, country, and church family. All these things are good in the right perspective, but wrong if made central. Now the solution is not to hide in a cave and not enjoy any of the good things God has given. But we do need to be aware of the potential danger involved. 

For those who have put their faith in Christ, we need to remember our sins are forgiven (Romans 8:33,34; 3:21-26; Ephesians 1:7). But we need to see this, not as an excuse to live as we wish, but a motivation to live for God (Galatians 5:13,14; Titus 2:11-14; Romans 12:1,2). We need to avoid both complacency and discouragement. This is particularly necessary because growth in Christ is a process that leads us forward one step at a time (Philippians 3:12-16; 1 Timothy 4:7,8; Hebrews 5:12-14). Now God is at work in us to change us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:3), but we need to intentionally respond to these things by choosing to follow Christ (Galatians 5:18; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 6:12-14). And we need to trust God to show us what things in us need to change (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; Isaiah 40:31).
However, we also need to recognize we are weak and have the real potential of falling (1 Corinthians 10:12,13; 1 Peter 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 11:1-5).  There may even be some cases where we need to take drastic action (Matthew 5:29,30; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). But we must remember that the dangers are very individual. And what can be a problem for one person may not be a problem for another. But we need to trust God to show us what we need to do, and also be open to His direction as to what we need to change (Psalms 139:23,24; 19:12-14; Proverbs 28:13). We must do this, realizing that God loves us and forgives us and is at work in our lives to lead us in the right way.