Two Ticks and No Dog

My family was from East Texas, and I did a lot of growing up there (though I was born in Louisiana), so I learned the language. Lots of colorful expressions came to me from there. This one about two ticks and no dog comes to mind quite often in working with couples in counseling. Not to talk about any one of them, that’s confidential, but to say that with Lots of them I see two hurting people, wanting help from the other, but both either have nothing to give or they have an internal rule against giving.

When they have nothing to give, perhaps it is because the trauma and abuse they feel has depleted them, taken away their personality and strength, or built a wall of stone. The abuse may have happened long before the marriage, or in the marriage alone, or in both before and after. Regardless, they have their emotional arms wrapped around them and their head covered with lots of “never again’s” and “I know what I’ll do’s” to protect them from any further attack. I have made another discovery. Sometimes it is because they learned about “romance” in Jr. High school and their knowledge of people and relationships has not grown much since that time.

So, what do we do? We start with self-awareness, and with a search for what made the wall necessary. We must not just tear down the wall if the relationship is still hurtful. Self-awareness is part of what J. B. Phillips was talking about when he developed his translation of the New Testament verse, Romans 12:2, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mold”. Sometimes even the world right at home can mold us into someone other than the person God created us to be. Couples begin speaking in “we-think”. An abusive partner may enforce compliance with their ideas. In the case of the “two ticks and no dog” couple, maybe both have tried to enforce compliance and both have become exhausted.

Recovering self-awareness takes a lot of conversation with our selves, and a lot of choice making and growing in wisdom, but it can happen. Next, comes assertively expressing ourselves to others without being a people pleaser, and also without being a bully toward them. Differences of opinion and personality need to be O.K., and they can even be fun. What happens when one spouse begins to speak for themselves, is that the other spouse may struggle with two things, 1) that their spouse isn’t blindly following them, and 2) that they themselves are now only speaking for their own self, and they too, will need to get used to more independence.

After self-awareness, and the assertiveness this involves, both ticks, ooops, I mean, People, will need to develop and share sensitivity. No couple becomes a happy and fulfilled couple without the ability to communicate about unmet needs, and do it in a way that is loving and helpful. Seeking the best for one another, as well as ourselves, practicing cooperation, openness, trustworthiness, and truthfulness with each other, two people can grow together, in reciprocal equality.

They will no longer be two ticks with no dog. They will be two strong people who can join each other to build a life together.

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The Nashville statement is motivated by religious sexism, more evidence

Another excellent article to share… more truth is out…

Biblical Personhood

I have argued before that the Nashville Statement, seemingly about gay and transgender people, is actually a stealth way to make evangelicals sign on sexist values. Here is another piece of evidence.

The CBMW web page currently start with the Nashville statement right beside their Danvers statement on Biblical™ Manhood and Womanhood. These are the first and biggest things you see on the web page of an organization which exist to promote gender roles:

Almost at the top of the list of initial signatories, and one of the main endorsers, is Russell Moore. In a 2007 interview i, Moore said:

“… most of the people in our churches are in same-sex marriages right now, they just don’t realize it. Because you have people who have marriages in which we do not have male headship, you do not have male protection…”

According to Moore, to let go of…

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What if we view anxiety as what it means to be human?

May I share another blog post? This is one, of the blogs I read, and this post, I believe, is one to share. I have often shared this same thoughts with clients in the Counseling Room.

Musings of a Christian Psychologist

Do you often feel guilty that you struggle with anxiety? Do you beat yourself up afterwards? When you hear, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything and with thanksgiving present your requests to God” (Phil 4:6-7) do you feel more burdened knowing that you are often anxious and filled with worry?

Indeed the Scriptures speak very frequently about our anxieties and worries. Might it be that it is a human experience (this side of the Fall) that will not be removed? If you worried less about your worries; if you felt less shame and guilt for them, how might that change how you respond to your worries?

Discuss!

I leave you with this thought as you ponder your way of responding to your worry. Psalm 56:3 says, When I am afraid I put my trust in you. It doesn’t say that such trust erases fear. You can be afraid and…

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Is Access Enough?

I am reading a challenging but thoroughly interesting book these days. It is, The People’s Book, edited by Jennifer Powell McNutt and David Lauber. This collection of Papers is in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the appearance of Luther’s Ninety-five Thesis.

In a chapter by G. Sujin Pak, Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity at Duke University, there is a focus we do well to stop and ponder. Dr. Pak points out that the usual view of that time and environment was that church leadership had forbidden all but the clergy and the professors from having scripture, reading it for themselves, and sharing it with others. The truth is, Pak says, is that all laypersons had, at some location, access to the scriptures. But, there was a catch…

Also, themes such as salvation by grace had been talked about in many of the ivory towers of theology. But, there was a catch…

Dr. Pak says that one of the major effects of the reformation was to move this mere access to the scripture, all the way over to action about the scripture. The catch mentioned above was that the discussion of scripture often stayed in the ivory tower. Plus, even though the layperson could obtain access to scripture, the layperson was often discouraged from doing so by 1) leaders who told them they would be wasting their time and would only be confused, and 2) leaders who, themselves, did not read much scripture, but only literature about scripture.

A major outgrowth of the Reformation that affected all churches and all believers was the move to action about the Word of God. Scriptures were rediscovered and were proclaimed in the churches and even in the homes and the streets. Scriptures like…

John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” (Jesus)

Joel 2:28, “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.”

I Peter 2:9, But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;…”

I Corinthians 14:31, For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;…”

What was this??? It looks like all believers were called to read, interpret, share with others, encourage and build up one another. Then, we have come to believe, that the Word of God, shared with one another, and voraciously taken in by the believers who are reading it, will be used by the Spirit of God to bring about growth and maturity in the lives of believers. This was the predecessor of our modern day Sunday School classes in which we grapple with the study of the word of God, whether we are clergy or layperson… whether we are young or old in the faith. It is the predecessor of the home group, if the home group meets for Bible study and Bible understanding. It is even the predecessor of the two people, or more people, or just one person who sit at someone’s table to open the Bible, and open their hearts to see what God will have for them.

It’s not just about access, it’s about action…

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Prayer According to the Will of God

The Apostle, John, said in his own letter, I John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

For this Blog post/ Bible Study I will depend much on the work of Stan Grenz, and his book, Prayer- the Cry for the Kingdom. His outline and his thoughts are excellent.[1]

Grenz states that “praying according to God’s Will has to do with both the petitioner and the petition.” He quotes John Allan Lavender, “Spirituality leads to effective praying, whereas the prayer of the unspiritual person is of no avail.”

Grenz writes about the importance of our own condition.[2]

  • Sin hinders prayer. Psalm 66:18 says “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear”
  • As stated in the study of the Lord’s Model Prayer, our two great enemies are our own sin, and also the unforgiveness of the sins of others. “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” Mark 11:25
  • Interpersonal problems affect our prayers negatively. Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
  • I Peter 3:7 says, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone more susceptible to harm, as a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” A lack of mutuality in marriage will hinder prayer.
  • Here is another… Proverbs 21:13 “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.”

Isaiah sums it up in chapter 59 verses 1-2, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short
That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,  And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Next, Grenz points out the importance of proper motivation. “Our calling as disciples of Jesus is to engage in the business of the King.” A Look at the prayers of Paul showed that, “his central desire was that [his readers] come to a full knowledge of—that is, that they experience fully—the love of Christ.”[3] And James warned against wrong motives. Chapter 4:3. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Third, the Lord calls us into cooperation with him in his work in this world. “Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38 “The willingness to cooperate with God in the granting of one’s request brings results, whereas unwillingness to be God’s tool leads to ineffectiveness.”[4]

A fourth principle of praying according to the Will of God is that it will naturally be compatible with the Word of God. It is Biblical Prayer and may easily, even rightly, be “seasoned with God’s purposes as disclosed in scripture.”[5] Luke gives us an example of this in Acts 4:23-31, as believers prayed in response to the threats of the Rulers-

“When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, ‘O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM,

who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said,
‘WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE,
AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS?

‘THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND,
AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER
AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.’

‘For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.

Then there is another principle of praying according to God’s Will. Many times we think of those things we may want and we check them out against God’s Will in scripture. We want to see if our wishes are in accord. This is appropriate, but it is not complete. It is also our calling to make sure we know God’s wishes about all matters of his Will, and how he wants to include us. God’s Will isn’t just about checking out our Will, but also growing in the life of letting his Will become our Will. Is there more I should be wanting for Him.

            Let’s pray for areas of concern to God and the believer-

  • For those who have not committed their lives to Christ,
  • For the world’s needs, evangelism, missions, peacemaking, feeding, helping, etc.,
  • For world leaders,
  • For social action,
  • For other Christians,
  • For situations in which God’s Will is not known,
  • For the sick, the grieving, broken hearts, broken spirits, broken minds,
  • For those who suffer abuse, for those who fight abuse, for how we should fight abuse,
  • The list goes on.

 

 

[1]Stanley Grenz, Prayer- the Cry for the Kingdom, revised edition, 2005, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, chapters 3-4, pages 54-92

[2] Grenz, p. 55

[3] Grenz, p. 59

[4] Grenz, p. 61

[5] Grenz, p.64

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How Do We Serve God?

How do we serve God?      The question took on a finer point recently when it went to “How will we serve God when we get to Heaven and no one has needs, needs that we can help fill in His name, no one lacks a knowledge of God that we can help fill in His name, and so on.” I like questions that make me go deeper, and answers that help me live better, so I dove into the search. Understanding feels good.

How do we serve? I think of the first and obvious answers. I serve God by the church experience of expression through music, letting that shared expression call me into remembering and learning from adoration. For me, the preaching is part of worship (the biggest part, in fact) as I encounter the pathos of a text from God’s revelation in his word. We serve in other ways at church, teaching, sweeping, giving, decorating, cooking, visiting the sick, encouraging each other, repairing stuff from the light switch to the air conditioning, and in many more ways.

But there is more serving of God outside the church. Whether through a church sponsored event or one we find on our own, we serve God through taking food to the hungry, helping people in need because of failing health, age, catastrophe, being the kind witness for the person struggling with their own internal questions about the purpose of their life, and many other ways.

What does the Bible say?

Perhaps we can find the simple advice helpful about service to God. Be like Jesus, and do what comes naturally. Look at how many times “Love one another” and “Build up one another” appear in scripture. This is serving God.

The most basic service to God is about where it all begins, which is not any of our efforts at all. We are saved by his grace. He came looking for us and found us. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:10) He has begun a work in our life that he will finish. (Philippians 1:3-6) Out of this new creaturely-ness (II Corinthians 5:17), our serving of God begins.

Again with the basics, I see Romans 12:1-2, and then Romans 12:3-8, and don’t stop reading even there.

 1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

This phrase often translated “spiritual service” or “reasonable service” can also be translated “logical, philosophically sound, service”.

  3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

 

One of the challenging stories from the early writings is the story of Rehoboam. In II Chronicles 12:1-16. It is a sad story of how he “Forsook the law of the Lord.” He weakened the nation of Judah spiritually, and also practically, so that Shishak of Egypt marched against the nation. When many leaders of the land humbled themselves, God spared Judah from vast destruction, but the land became subservient to Egypt. God allowed this as the scripture says in verse 8 …“so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.”

Yes, serving God is different from serving those people or things that oppress us, or call for us to follow along with them. “The way of the treacherous is hard.” So says Proverbs 13:15. Galatians 6:8 says “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

But, what does it mean to serve God? As stated above, it is being like Jesus and doing what comes naturally. It is bringing others to Christ and his salvation; it is loving each other in our treatment of each other; and building up each other by helping each other be stronger and encouraged, and forgiving each other. It is concern and social action for a world in its paralysis and its shame, it is turning a broken person’s hiding place into a meeting place… thus building this new community and fellowship we call Christ’s church. We call these actions being obedient to The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) and The Great Commandment. (Matthew 22:36-40) It is the prayer for God’s Kingdom and Will to become real in this Earth as it is in Heaven.[1]

One passage that I think should be read and re-read every few weeks is John 15:7-17. There in v.15, Jesus says, “I have called you friends.” Is that a glimpse of serving God in heaven… friends sharing each day together, in that place God has prepared for us.

As I read the description of heaven in the book of Revelation, I am struck by all the things that won’t be there. No sorrow, no pain, no sin, and the list goes on. We won’t serve by reform movements or challenging social ills. We won’t serve by growing the church. We will still serve by loving, won’t we? We will have full and complete fellowship with Jesus, with no interference between. Heaven seems to be about relationship, worship, friendship, thanksgiving, freedom, knowing even as we are known. But when we are there, perhaps we will see that these were a large part of what we called service while we were here.

[1] See the excellent writing about this prayer, in Prayer- the Cry for the Kingdom, Revised Edition, by Stanley Grenz.

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Evan, we hardly knew ye…

 

I became a Christian (“got saved” as we called it back then when it was an OK phrase), because someone went off and left a Bible open, and I found it and read it, and called out to God for forgiveness and salvation. It was not because some group of people somewhere sent me a list of the social, political, and cultural or even theological opinions I had to have to be a real Christian.

What Do I Mean?

 

A few days ago, in August 2017, the Nashville Statement was released by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood[1]. It presents itself as an affirmation of a Biblical view of sexuality. However, many of us see several traps within it, along with some narrow and abusive judgments of what it takes to be in the Will of God.

Long ago, the word “evangelical” was a good word. This is where the article title comes from. “Evan”, short for Evangelical, we hardly knew ye (you). There was a time when evangelical simply meant that we enjoyed, experienced, and told the good news for all to hear. But, many younger and middle-aged adults of today have not been able to see Evangelical Christianity without a social and political agenda, stitched on poorly, with the coarsest of threads. Secondly, as has been a problem since the early church, Moralism is still being substituted for the Gospel. The idea that we have got to get people to behave in certain ways is Pharisee-ism, not the Gospel. Let’s let the indwelling Christ within the believer be the true “hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

I was converted in my teen years, and had a church around me and welcoming me in wonderful ways. Little did I know then that this church was one of the best, and not all churches or religious leaders would be so kind, and Christ-like. It was not a church in the Reformed Tradition (another term popularized these days), but rather was a church (denomination) with a history of autonomy, with a high view of scripture, with a strong belief that each believer has a relationship with Christ in which they are discipled primarily by the Jesus who lives within us[2]. Wow!

Every now and then we would hear that things like the Apostle’s Creed, or the Nicene Creed, did have some good things to say, but we were reminded that these were not inspired scripture, and we had developed as a denomination without “official creeds”. With the 20th century arising and tightening of Fundamentalism it seems that more and more groups want to add to the definition of Christian. This is one of several reasons why I am troubled by, and why I reject the Nashville Statement.

Let me say it like this… I became a Christian (“got saved” as we called it back then when it was an OK phrase), because someone went off and left a Bible open, and I found it and read it, and called out to God for forgiveness and salvation. It was not because some group of people somewhere sent me a list of the social, political, and cultural or even theological opinions I had to have to be a real Christian.

The Nashville Statement has some truth within it, but the presence of truth doesn’t guarantee accuracy throughout, nor does it guarantee that this truth is spoken in love, or spoken with a good motive in mind. There are many places within the statement where no scriptural reference is made, none at all.

What is stated in those spots is a religious label or concept, which may have come out of someone’s well meaning interpretation at some time in the past. These general phrases have become popular in many circles, but, but, but they have not become scripture. I speak of phrases such as… divinely ordained differences, creation order, creation design, God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption,

When people use these phrases, it is often assumed that there is a scriptural definition of what they mean, and that there is a scriptural list of qualifiers which define what they mean. An honest and unbiased look at the scripture shows that these assumptions are just not so. There is no such thing in scripture as a “creation order” which links certain roles to males or females. Nowhere in scripture is anyone ever called the “priest of the family”.

Yet, people often use these phrases to keep people, especially women, “in their place”. (A goal of both racism and sexism.) While the Nashville Statement on the surface is about LGBT issues, between the lines there is traditional sexism.

I particularly noted one review of the Statement, which points out a problem at the core of both sexism and the role rigidity of the anti-feminist agenda. Retha Faurie, a writer in South Africa (where she has seen lots of social change), and a person I consider to be a good theologian, says this about the problem[3]

“Some feminists argue…  We should stop expecting of men/ women/ boys/ girls to fit into certain looks-and-behavior boxes. This would help youth who are not fitting the boxes to still accept their own biology, while embracing their non-gender-stereotypical personalities.”

The suggestion here is that “role rigidity” is in fact forcing some people into developing a third, or fourth, sexual group. …not the only factor behind the numerous LGBT issues, but it may certainly be one of them.

May I also suggest a blog article by Tim Fall,  “The “Nashville Statement” Fails to Understand God’s Plan for Women and Men[4]. Look for this article at timfall.wordpress.com There are many other great articles on his delightful blog… “Just One Train Wreck After Another.

 

 

One Last Statement

I Cor. 15: 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

This is the only “statement” I need.

 

 

 

[1] CBMW was founded in 1987, largely in opposition to the organization, Christians for Biblical Equality, which had arisen in the 1980’s. CBE states that rightly interpreted, the Bible teaches the basic equality of male and female, in church, society, and marriage. See http://www.cbeinternational.org

[2] We heard terms like Priesthood of the Believer, and Soul Competency, and learned to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ, as individuals as well as within the fellowship of other believers…

[3] Biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com

[4] timfall.wordpress.com

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The “Nashville Statement” Fails to Understand God’s Plan for Women and Men

I will soon write my own post about the Nashville Statement, but I must also share Tim’s post with you. It is an alert most necessary…

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

Most people reading theNashville Statementrecently published by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) will notice the repeated uses of the words “homosexual” and “transgender” in its fourteen articles, which might cause the reader to skip past the importance of Article 4:

We affirm that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.

We deny that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

What are these “divinely ordained differences”? The statement doesn’t say. Other CBMW writings, though, show the difference is that women are subordinate to men in all things: home, work, play, education. If a man and woman are involved, the man takes the lead and the woman follows. Always.

I disagree.

The Bible shows a lot of men and women working and living together…

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If you abide in Me…

 

“What does it mean to abide in Christ?” I have learned a lot of things from a lot of teachers, from elementary school to graduate school, but I have never had an invitation from any of them to abide with them. No doubt I would have learned a lot more if I had but, of course, that would be so very impractical. But, throughout scripture we find the call to abide, or, to remain in relationship and in fellowship with God. To make it all happen, God has come to us in the person of Jesus. Let’s look at what he says about it.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7

The Greek word for “abide” is not an unusual or special word. It simply means, “to remain”. Jesus describes this in John 15 when he says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)

“However strong the branch becomes, however far away it reaches round the home, out of sight of the vine, all its beauty and all its fruitfulness ever depend upon that one point of contact where it grows out of the vine. So be it with us too.”
Andrew Murray, Holy in Christ

While the word for “abide” is simple, the invitation and the urging of Jesus to remain in this fellowship with him is life changing, day after day. Our relationship with the Savior cannot be ended (John 10:27-29), but the quality of our daily fellowship is a product of our daily walk with him.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,… Colossians 2:6

Look back at John 15:7. There is something else to learn here. Jesus tells of a crucial factor of abiding… that of his words abiding in us. Jesus uses an unusual Greek word here for his “words”. I hesitate to talk about this different word, because many religious groups have exploited this word, and have misinterpreted it. They have turned it into a cultic and almost magic but mythical concept. (If you don’t know about the misuse, you are better off. Suffice it to say, that I do not hold to that idea.) While the common word for “word”, Logos, and this different word, Rhema, are often used interchangeably, there is a truth to be found in Jesus’ use of the word. Logos can mean a person’s words, but it can also mean wider concepts, philosophies, systematic teachings, and more. Rhema, simply, is the word that means one’s own personal words, spoken or written in time. One of the most tender moments of a friendship comes when we say to the friend, “I remember when you said to me…” We are often referring to some words we shared, words that we now cherish, words which continue to change our lives. I believe this is the sound and meaning that Jesus brings to John 15:7. It was the same sound and meaning found in Psalm 119:11.

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.”

Abiding is about remaining in active fellowship, communicating genuinely with Jesus, and taking in his words, letting them change us. This is a walking and praying life, in fellowship with Jesus. John talked about it later when he wrote to the early church.

“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. …….Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”  I John 2:24, 28

We often hear the question, “What would Jesus Do?” The truth found in this concept of abiding is that the answer is, “Ask Him.” We learn what he would do from studying his Word, and we learn what he would do from communicating with him, praying, walking in fellowship, and growing in his grace.

The purpose is His, He will carry it out; the fruit is His, He will bring it forth; the abiding is His, He will maintain it.”
Andrew Murray, The True Vine

[See John 8:31; John 15; I John 2:6; I John 4:13; Colossians 1:27; 2:6; 3:16]

 

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Teach us to Pray, and to be a Love Group

 

We have been looking at the instances of Jesus praying, and those passages where Jesus taught us more about praying. I am looking at the shorter passages, because the larger passages of Matthew 6, and John 17 need longer development. We looked at Matthew and Mark. Now, let’s look at Luke and John.

(Lk 6:27-28)    27“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

(Lk 11:1-13)
1It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2And He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 3‘Give us each day our daily bread.  4‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation.’”

5Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.8“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.

9“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10“For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11“Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12“Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”

(Jn 14:13-14, see also the fuller context of 8-20)    13“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14“If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

(Jn 15:7-8, 16) 7“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

16“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

(Jn 16:22-24) 22“Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.  23“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.

 

The words of Jesus speak for themselves. Permit me a brief summary.

There are so many truths that can be studied here, but let’s look at key words. Like the passages in Matthew and Mark, I see Love your enemies, Bless the curser, and Pray for the mistreater, as well as Forgive, Abide, and the call for persistent prayer. Without repeating myself too much, let me focus in on what John reports in chapter 15. If we abide in Jesus… then all he says about prayer comes together, and so do the passages about the kingdom coming on earth as in heaven. Abiding in Jesus makes it all possible, for us to love even our enemies. In these days when we hear so much about “hate groups”, I could wish the church stood out more as a “love group”.

 

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