SDO + EKC = SDO & EKO
Friday, September 16, 2005
Getting the Juices Flowing
So much going on. Beginning is much more difficult than any part of writing. Rather than talk about how difficult it is to get back into blogging, I suppose I ought to start at it.
FYI--this new blogging effort will not be the same as my past entries, which were typically long and primarily exegetical and reflectional. Instead, I will attempt to stick more closely to the "What in the world is going on in Scott's life?" stuff. Now is the time when things really are going on. More than ever, this is true!
I just completed a book review on Vaughan Roberts book Life's Big Questions, which is a VERY good and helpful book. It traces themes of life (money, marriage, missions, etc.) through the entirety of scripture from their establishment in the Old Testament, through their distortion in the Fall, the prediction of restoration in the Prophets, the hope of things being set right at the coming of Jesus Christ, and the picture of all things restored and perfected in the consummation of the kingdom. It is smashing. Give it a read, and I guarantee you will emerge from the task with a more informed and wholistic understanding of how the Bible, with all of its diversity of writers and writings, speaks with one voice about life's issues. Roberts writes with a commitment to the centrality of Christ in the message of the Bible... so good.
I had an interview with 5/3 Bank a couple of days ago, which went very well. Thus continues my search for employment that will provide me (AND MY WIFE-TO-BE) with medical benefits. This branch is located on Poplar Level Road, just off of the Watterson... interesting. I actually started singing a song about its "ghettoness" as I pulled up.
Hold on, now. I should let you know that I have been experiencing what I have identified as a "Dr. Orrick-ism." To be specific, I have started to make up songs to random tunes as they come to me during the situations of life. I'll give you an example- I started singing to Bolo in the gym the other day, borrowing the melody from a Jack Johnson song and incorporating my latest joke with John, namely, spelling his last name out every time I refer to him... long story, but it goes back to when we were at the Men's Wearhouse picking out the tuxedos for MY wedding.
From now on, if you see my Hawaiian friend (from whom I infamously stole the cookies), please say, "Hello, Mr. Letoto. That's L-E-T-O-T-O!" He'll get a kick out of it, lemme tell ya.
I'm in Ohio with Em. I love being here. I didn't know that a man could have two families. Apparently, it's possible, because I am that man.
I like Coldplay.
I am digressing. More to come later, when it won't be in such a long post that your eyes begin to dry past the point where you are able to go on reading. Wouldn't want your vision to expire for my lack of brevity.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
To Quote Rafiki
To quote Rafiki (please tell me you all remember who he is...)
"IT IS TIME!"
That is right, ladies and gentlemen. I am once again posting on this blog. I have been inspired by my closest friends... and I figure that there might be some soul out there interested in the latest-and-greatest, maybe even the mundane-and-ordinary, happenings in my life.
That's all for now.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
The Fire Hydrant Effect
This past week has been awesome for me. Though I cannot remember a time when I have “had” less time, I am honestly declaring that this past week has been one long running fountain of grace in my life. In fact, the Lord is doing so much work in me that I feel like I am attempting to drink from a fire hydrant!
First of all, the Lord has been hearing and answering my prayers, and the prayers of my other brothers and sisters here at Boyce College. I hope that you are able to share this joy with me, because you are praying. So much blessing and refreshing comes from laboring in prayer with fellow believers. Prayer meeting on Tuesday nights has been such a sweet time of communing with the Lord and experiencing unity and love that accompanies those who seek the Lord’s face with one another. The Lord has also lifted my spirit through prayer time with my close friends. We have been praying much for one another, and it has been staggering to watch the way our souls have been knit together in Christ.
Secondly, and this is certainly in-line with and, perhaps, an extension of the first, the Lord has been moving powerfully through Boyce students passionate in their desire for evangelism. I was able to join with both the Monday and the Thursday teams in this past week—what an experience it was! Both times, we went out prayerfully, seeking to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel of Christ. Both times, the Lord was faithful to answer our prayers and allow us to share in the true joy that comes through declaring the great things of God to those who very deeply—whether they will admit it or not—desire to hear the truth about who they are, who God is, what is wrong, and what is the great, glorious solution to all of their sin, struggles, and desires for satisfaction.
I could write a long entry here (You are saying, “Yes. We know this from experience!”), but I will refrain. Instead, I would like to leave you with a challenge. I will even attempt to make it a “short” exhortation, of sorts.
Many of you have been participating in the Tuesday night prayer group that meets in Carver 107 at 9 p.m. If you have, then I am confident your heart resonates with how powerful those times are for each individual and their religious affections, as well as for the building up of unity in the body here at Boyce. Many of you have been a part of an evangelism team from Boyce. If so, you can corroborate concerning how sweet those times of witnessing have been.
If you have shared these experiences with me, BRING OTHERS ALONG WITH YOU! Tell them how sweet it is. Let your own exuberance and passion for serving the Lord be so winsome that you have five more people join you for these times. It can happen. Exhort them for the good of their soul.
If you have not yet been able to join us for Tuesday prayer or for an evangelism team, you need to consider it, for the good of your soul. I understand the busyness that attends college life—I am dripping with it. Let me let you in on a little secret, though: Like I said before, this has been both one of the sweetest and most clearly the busiest week of my entire life. At the same time, the Lord has mysteriously provided an extra measure of grace for each task with which I have been trusted. Trust the Lord. Go to the meeting. Meet a lost person. See if the Lord does not bless you for it!
You know that this post would not be complete without a word from Scripture. I will allow it to speak for itself. Read slowly. Let what it is actually saying, not what you THINK that you know it says, speak to your soul.
–1 Corinthians 1:18-31
18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
Do you want to “get this?”
I love you, brothers and sisters. Get it.
One more thing. You have to open your mouth very wide to drink from a fire hydrant. Get ready. Grace comes out fast.
Monday, October 04, 2004
1 Samuel 12:19-25
And all the people said to Samuel, 'Pray for your servants to the LORD your
God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to
ask for ourselves a king.' And Samuel said to the people, 'Do not be afraid;
you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD,
but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty
things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will
not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased
the LORD to make you a people for himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it
from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I
will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD and
serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he
has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away,
both you and your king.' 1 Samuel 12:19-25
I thought this passage was incredibly striking. I was reading through Samuel, and came upon a passage that sounds like Paul... only a little rougher in translation. I'd encourage you to read this passage slowly, verse-by-verse, and allow the astounding things that the Lord says to his people through Samuel, even after they have forsaken Him, to start working on you. This response is one of grace for past sins and promise of graciousness concerning future sins. BUT SEE HOW IT IS SAID! Also note the exhortation to avoid useless and empty things, and particularly God's "stake" in the situation--the glory of His name. I wish I had time at the moment to BEGIN to unpack some of this... but you'll have to do that for yourself.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
This is not a plea for the Lord to awaken David from slumber in the morning, that he may begin his day with the reading of the Word of God. There is an opening here that goes beyond the physical opening of physical eyes. The eyes are those of the soul, the opening of them is their inclination, by God, to the things of God.
Eyes are made for looking. They are made for gazing. With them, one takes in the visible glory of the world and allows that inhalation of splendor to produce an effect within them. We go to a forest of redwoods, and the sight of them overwhelms us. Gazing at the great expanse of the universe and the size of its heavenly stars and planets produces in us a reaction of awe and wonder. The eyes are one inlet of glory to the soul. The body has other inlets, those of sensing sound and taste and touch, but what we see with our eyes gains our attention first, and most often retains it. At the sight of a beautiful painting, a collector may stand transfixed before it, remaining hours in the museum, as that painting affects him and leaves its impression upon him.
The eyes themselves do not produce wonder and awe and delight and the other sensations. Those reactions are produced by the soul in response to a something which the eyes behold. Therefore, it is chiefly the object of the eyes attention that serves as the principle agent in these affections. Your eyes will not produce awe and wonder, probably, by looking at a dirt path. They may, but that satisfied response is more probable if the eyes are beholding the network of stars and galaxies that illuminate the expansive, black night sky. The more glorious and captivating the object of vision, the higher and deeper the response of the soul.
So, the eyes are useful for beholding wonders, and allowing those wonders to produce their due response within the soul. They perform their function as servants of the soul most adequately when they are beholding objects that are most capable of producing inspiration and affection—namely, the great realities of God.
Open my eyes—
David asks for the Lord to “open” his eyes. We must conclude that he asked for opening because his eyes were closed. Eyes are not useful if they are closed. I may point my head at the heavens, but if my eyes are closed, it benefits me none, and produces no sensation in my soul. If I am blindfolded, and taken to the Grand Canyon, turned to face that majesty, and asked what glorious response is being produced within me, I will be forced to respond that I have remained unchanged. No more affections rise up within me than if I had been taken to an empty room, placed six inches from a bare wall, and asked the same question.
Why are David’s eyes closed? All of us have eyes which are closed, until they are opened by the Lord. Before a person is converted, their eyes are completely closed, and they are unable to embrace the beauty of the Gospel. They are, indeed, blinded by Satan, prevented from seeing Christ’s glory. For this reason, Paul writes, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:3-4).
First and foremost, those who are not in Christ are blinded because they lack spiritual life within them. This life is requisite for spiritual understanding. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor 2:14).
In order to have spiritual understanding, a person must have the Spirit of Christ within him, who has regenerated him and enlightened his spiritual faculties. “But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:15-16).
Once the heart has been enlightened by the Spirit of God, the eyes of the heart are capable of “spiritual vision.” In other words, they become capable of beholding the things of God and comprehending them not as foolishness, but as beauty. “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).
David desires to have his eyes opened by the Lord. He must ask this favor of his Creator, who searches and knows his heart in all of its weakness. “He remembers our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14). David does not open his own eyes, nor does he appeal to any earthly power for the opening. He appeals to God alone. What is the purpose of his appeal? Why does he desire to have opened eyes?
That I may behold wondrous things—
Opened eyes would be purposeless if there were nothing to be seen. If you are concealed in an empty room, with no presence of light whatsoever, it would make little difference whether or not your eyes were opened or closed. Having your eyes opened would be purposeless. Having them closed would not cause you to miss anything.
However, if you kept your eyes shut tightly and were transported from that dark, sealed room to a beautiful botanical garden, full of exotic birds and flowers, there would be quite a difference between opened and closed eyes. With your eyes open, there is beauty and wonder, variation and excitement in the glory of that warm, bright place. With your eyes shut, there is dullness, darkness, and monotony.
In the first case, having opened eyes is worthless, for there is nothing to behold. In the second case, there is wonder to behold with the opened eyes, and that splendor will be missed without eyes opened to behold.
David desires to have opened eyes, because there are wondrous things to behold. If there were not, he might leave well enough alone. But that is not the case! There are wondrous things to behold, and he asks the Lord to free him from his darkness and to illumine the eyes of his soul to behold those wondrous things.
I must recognize that there are indeed wondrous things for us to behold. I must not allow myself to walk blindly in this world without regard for the splendor in the world around me. The world and the Word of God constantly call out for admiration and examination. The Lord must enlighten my soul to see them for their beauty and their worth, if I am to experience the true glory of God in his great gifts.
That I may behold wondrous things out of Your law—
David seeks to behold with God-opened eyes wondrous things out of God’s law. Two things, at the least, can be concluded from this. First, there is wonder in the law of the Lord. Second, the law is not wondrous if not looked upon with God-opened eyes.
How strange it is that such wonder can be found in a law! No servant meditates on the laws of any earthly king to take great delight in them. In fact, meditating on law should strike fear in a man, not delight, for such examination, first of the law and second of the man himself, would reveal a severe chasm between the requirements of the law and the life of the man. The man would realize that he has broken the law and is incapable of keeping it fully. The law would not communicate life, but death.
Those with darkened understanding serve their own flesh, rejecting the wonder of God and his attributes, which have been displayed in what he has made (Rom. 1:20-22). To them, the law of God is not a thing of wonder, but a thing of terror. They hate the light that the law of the Lord shines upon their hearts, for it exposes their evil deeds for what they are, “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:20). Instead, they shut they reject the law, shut their eyes to it, and remain in darkness.
For those who have their eyes opened to the law of the Lord, its light is indeed wondrous, for in keeping it and meditating upon it they are blessed and preserved. Thus, it is written, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalms 1:1-3).
To the man with an opened soul, the law of God is delightful, for it communicates soul-to-soul, from God’s to his. The righteous man does not seek the counsel of the wicked nor that of the sinner nor that of the scoffer. He seeks that of the Lord. And where may this counsel be found—counsel which causes life and prosperity and fruitfulness? It may be found in the law of the Lord!
As one who calls himself a servant of God, I must seek to live with God-opened eyes, seeking to behold in the law of my God wondrous things. Without his grace, my blindness is death to me. Without his grace, his law pronounces my just desert of death to me. Thanks be to God, that he has rescued me “from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” in whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of my sins! (Col 1:13-14).
Lord, when I proclaim your Word to others, give me understanding that you do the opening work. You must open soul-eyes if they are to embrace the light of the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ! “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 2:15-17). To some, the Gospel is the aroma of life; to others, it is the aroma of death. What a wonder than man must surrender the result of Gospel proclamation to the work of the Holy Spirit of God! All we may do is preach the truth. He will determine the outcome.
Lord, when I look at your law and do not behold wondrous things, forgive me and open my eyes, that I may see it for what it truly is: the law of my King. Make it beautiful to me. More than gold. Sweeter than honey.
"Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law." Psalm 119:18
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Mr. Miyagi, Dr. Orrick and a Slave Named Scott
There exists a great tension in my life. I am at Bible school, where everyone has ideals concerning what constitutes the best formula for a good Christian, a good student, a good minister. The tension is that they are all different, and I am presented with all of them all of the time. Some say that now is a time to study—so study hard. Some say now is a time for practical hands-on ministry—so do lots of it. How is it possible to satisfy all of them?
To sum, I have been faced with a big decision about where to go following my graduation from Boyce. I have before me great opportunities for internships in Minneapolis and Washington D.C., should I decide I would like to pursue them. I also have the opportunity to remain here in Louisville and continue to work towards my Masters of Divinity at Southern Seminary. This decision represents some of the pull between the “studying” and the “getting out there.” I feel a great desire to “get out there,” which makes me want to go and try an internship. Of late, however, I have been feeling a very different motivating desire in my life, which I believe is from the Lord. At our Boyce College Men’s Night this past Friday, Dr. Orrick, Boyce’s Professor of Literature and Culture, spoke directly to my area of need, delivering some of the most applicable and refreshing insights that I have heard in the past three years. This is not an overstatement.
Dr. Orrick principally spoke out of 1 Timothy 4:7, which reads, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness.” There is much that he illustrated from this text, which I may post later, in a more fully developed set of notes from his entire message. Right now, though I will share the portions of his message which spoke most deeply to me, where I am, right now.
“Training yourself,” according to Dr. O, involves discipline. Sometimes, this discipline is strangely frustrating. Like Daniel-san from Karate Kid, we are often asked to practice discipline after discipline after discipline, without ever getting to the “good stuff.” Daniel-san wanted to learn karate. Instead of getting “karate” lessons, Mr. Miyagi had him spend a whole day waxing his cars, then a whole day painting his fence, followed by an entire day painting his house. Daniel-san became frustrated because Mr. Miyagi was not teaching him “karate.” In response to his complaint, Miyagi flew at Daniel-san with a flurry of karate hits and punches, of which Daniel-san blocked every one—using the same motions he had learned from his days waxing and painting.
What does this mean for a Bible-college student? It means that I am studying this right now that will have a tremendous impact on what my ministry and spiritual life looks like in the future. I am being equipped with tools that will make me faster, sharper, and more passionate as a minister of the Word of God. Even though some of this theological training might seem like waxing cars and painting fences, I am really learning about ministry (if you could compare it to karate…as it were).
Dr. Orrick’s word to me hit a nerve when I asked how he evaluated the tension which students feel between studying and “getting out there.” He proposed his answer in the form of an analogy:
Picture a tree farm. On this tree farm, there is a master and there are slaves (he asked for a pardoning of the possible problems due to the presence of “master” and “slave”… I ask that same pardon). One of these slaves is named Scott. He enjoys chopping trees, and he is fairly efficient at performing his job.
Scott is confused one day, when the master instructs him to go to the shed and sharpen the axes. He sharpens axes all day long. The next day, the master says the same, and he does the same. For an entire week, he does nothing but sharpen axes, and begins to feel perplexed. He is a good axe-man. Why is he not out doing his job and chopping down trees? After all, is that not his true task? No. It is not his true task.
Scott’s true task is to obey the master. If the master has him sharpen axes for three years, and he obliges his master willingly, he is doing his task and doing it very well.
Here is the lesson. As a student, I am in a period of life which Dr. Orrick describes as a “gathering stage.” I am gathering ingredients for a “recipe that I will be baking for the rest of my life.” These ingredients are the knowledge of the scriptures and tools for studying them effectively. I must admit, I am thoroughly enjoying this stage of my life. It is a stage of great struggle, due to the intensity of the coursework and pressures to “get out there.” On the other hand, it is a stage of great joy. I am spending my time studying the great realities of the universe: God, sin, hell, redemption, covenant, Christ, grace, justification, the Holy Spirit, and Christian fellowship. I have the opportunity to study old languages, like biblical Greek and Hebrew.
Here is the application. If the Lord directs my desires towards an extended period of study, then I may study in freedom, without guilt. I need not worry that I am not “doing enough.” This is a singular time in my life, which will not likely come again. As Dr. Orrick wisely said, with a wife and family come great responsibility and much less time to study and think and travel and other things which my singleness and youth afford to me currently.
I am loving my studies. Because of this, I have become increasingly able to study well, to study long, and to study hard. I do not have to feel guilty about that, fearing that I am not “doing enough” or that I need to get out of here and “do something” for the Lord. While it is taken for granted that a balance needs to be maintained between books and people, there should be no guilt involved if I should desire to continue gathering, and gathering for all I am worth. If I should indeed persevere unto life-long ministry, the many to whom I will potentially minister will share the fruit of the preparation I am doing right now.
What implications does this have for my decision about post-college activities? The same that it has for me right now, as a student and as a student busy with things like student council. I am doing the Master’s will. If he is communicating that will to me through the desires he fuels in my heart, then I am free (and commanded!) to pursue those desires with all of my heart, for it is an act of love, and I am called to love him with all of me (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37). Right now, I feel that desire and that will is for me to study and study hard. Can I do that in an internship? Yes. Will I? Perhaps. All I know is that I am loving my studies. Most of all, I am loving my Master in my studies, who indeed is the Master who has commissioned me to study.
“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.”—Psalm 119:97
Friday, September 24, 2004
Dr. Orrick straight broke it off at Boyce College Men's Night tonight. Wow. He spoke on personal piety, but it was really about spiritual discipline and training in righteousness. Huge implications for me and my studies. More to come on this tomorrow. I must be up to serve at a banquet which begins at 7 a.m., so I am off to the old "cave." Stay tuned.