Day 46 - Theodosius
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Matthew, Mark, Luke. Twenty-five percent complete with the Bible. It’s pretty cool. Anyways …
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
Do all Christians have this same assurance that Peter had? If Jesus prayed over Peter a faith that could not be destroyed, then I trust the Lord granted such a faith.
As for the rest of us, Jesus warns that there are many kinds of soil, and the seed sown may not last for many (Mark 4:3-9). Paul and Timothy warn us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). James says that we must endure trials until the end to know that our faith was long-lasting (James 1:2-12).
I hear often that Christians have assurance of salvation, but I honestly never know if I have that assurance. So often do I recognize that my soil is dry, rocky, filled with ravenous crows, and covered in thorn bushes. I quickly choke out the seedlings of the Word in my life. Each day I tremble before God regarding my salvation because I know how quickly my heart turns away from Him. And as much as I’d like to believe that Christians have assurance of salvation, most of my trust rests in James’ words, which do not really give me any peace or rest. James simply says that when I receive the crown of life and cast it before the feet of Jesus, then I will know that my faith has endured. Really, James? My death and my resurrection will be the only ways to know that my faith was true?
I wish I might hear Jesus’ words. “Keith, Keith, Satan wants you, but I have prayed that your faith will last.” That would bring so much peace.
God, give me faith. Help my unbelief!
3:56 pm • 8 August 2012
Day 36 through 41 - Theodosius
Each night on my bed, I found myself looking up from within at the vertex where the wooden poles of the teepee merged and overlapped with one another. Never would I have imagined myself to be, but I was a camp counselor for 3-5th graders.
I thought, “Is this what it would be like to be in heaven?” Complete peace, that is. Something I’ve really been craving. The one camper who had given me grief throughout the entire week was finally put to sleep. No kids screaming or fighting. No make-your-own whistles from acorn shells annoyingly screeching about. All I felt was myself breathe. None of my worries from back home had followed me to the top of that mountain. None of it occupied my mind. All I could see was the white tarp of the teepee in contrast with the jutting rays of black wood that kept the tent up above me.
I imagined God within the tent. And if you think me not irreverent, just for this moment, it was as if His presence were the shelter itself.
My favorite chapter from the Bible is Hosea 2. It talks about God taking His adulterous people, Israel, back to Himself. God steals Israel back from the other gods to which she bowed down, and He takes away her well-cared vineyards and treasured goods which she gave credit to other men and gods. He then leads her through the desert and makes her His bride, where she forgets all of her former idolatrous ways as she looks in the face of her God and Master, whom she now calls her Bridegroom and Husband.
One thing I’ve never understood about Hosea 2, however, was verse 15: “And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.”
What is the Valley of Achor? While at camp (and while being on track with my daily readings), I finally understood that the Valley of Achor was the valley in which an Israelite, Achan, had been found guilty of being unfaithful to God’s commandments (Joshua 7). Because of this one sin, God permitted all of Israel to be overwhelmed by her adversaries. And when Israel discovered the source of her downfall, they stoned Achan with a great heap of stones. And then it hit me: the Valley of Achor means “the Valley of Trouble.” Achan brought trouble on God’s Israel, and God had justly brought trouble upon Achan.
But in the Valley of Trouble, God places Hope. A troublemaker received his just and troubling punishment. And later, Hope in the flesh, received a troublesome sentence at the hands of troublesome people like myself.
I often and willingly turn aside from Hope in almost everything I do. So often are the future days’ worries found in my heart and mind. So often do I let the wind and seas shake my eyes from walking toward my Savior. So often are the names of other gods found on my lips; but He “will remove the names of the Baals from my mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more” (Hosea 2:17).
One day, I will experience this peace. I trust that this peace will be more undisturbed and eternally satisfying than the brief silence I found in the dingy, white teepee tent - as serene as it was. The new Shelter in which I will find myself will be none other than Christ Jesus.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
12:05 am • 4 August 2012 • 2 notes
Day 34 - Theodosius
Time for another awkward post!
“If any man among you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp, but when evening comes, he shall bathe himself in water, and as the sun sets, he may come inside the camp.” (Deuteronomy 23:10-11)
So, I was talking with a friend one day. And we were talking about masturbation and our views about it. He held the view that it did less harm - possibly no harm at all - especially compared to pornography or premarital sex. I asked, “So, you can masturbate without lusting?” Because, I think that lust in itself is destructive. I think that’s what the Bible teaches, at least.
But I often have the same thoughts as my friend, however. I even wonder, did Jesus masturbate? I mean, to experience self-stimulating pleasure is not any worse than feeling the physical self-stimulation of giving oneself the pleasure of food … or the emotional pleasure of friendship … or the mental pleasure of rest and sleep. As far as Christians know, it is that Jesus did not lust. Perhaps He could have masturbated without lust.
After all, He had to have had a nocturnal emission at some point in is life if He chose not to masturbate. So, knowing that Jesus followed the Law perfectly, He would have had to make a Temple sacrifice for the uncleanliness of a seminal emission under either circumstance, right?
Is this blasphemous? It feels weird, but at the same time, I feel like it ought not to be.
Perhaps this is just my liberal, gender/sexuality-oriented, Berkeley mindedness sinking in.
In the meantime, I’ll be gone for a week. No posts from me for a while (which I guess is a good thing, because I seem to be the only one posting now … and my posts are tending to get weirder and weirder as of late).
4:35 am • 29 July 2012
Day 33 - Theodosius
Why is this the first time I’ve actually noticed the difference between Luke and the other gospels? I’ve known for quite sometime the discourse that people have had regarding Luke and the “Q source,” but this is the first time I have noticed for myself the uniqueness of the Gospel of Luke.
The other Synoptic Gospels seem to start right off the bat with the nativity and Jesus’ baptism. But Luke is addressing his as a letter to Theophilus, which I suppose to mean “friend of God.”
And though the other Gospels of Matthew and Mark show glimpses of Jesus’ divinity, Luke is the most blunt of the three. He tells us that heavenly hosts sing of Jesus’ coming, Elizabeth and her unborn baby are filled with the Spirit, and Mary even shouts the famous Magnificat (Luke 1). Simeon and Anna phrophesy of Jesus’ messianic and divine nature after His circumcision (Luke 2). Following that, this is the first time in the Gospels that Jesus is ever mentioned as a child, who even at twelve years, shocked people with His wisdom (1:41-52).
But that’s not all. What blew me away was when Jesus walked into Nazareth, practically stating His purpose by opening Isaiah’s scroll and reading aloud Isaiah 61:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
He rolled up the scroll and sat back down saying, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
He must have been a lunatic to walk into the midst of a Jewish assembly and declare Himself Israel’s ultimate Messiah. If someone were to walk into my church today and say, “Yep. That thing that you read, the Bible? Well, yeah, it’s really all about me.” I’d think him a lunatic and blasphemer, and if I were living under Jewish halakhic law, the congregation would take Him out and stone him.
Likewise, the people around Jesus responded initially with a blank stare and became filled with rage to the point that they pushed Him to a cliffside, but did not prevail in killing Him.
But, man. Luke is a pretty insane historian.
6:37 pm • 26 July 2012
Day 32 - Theodosius
As I read today, I was arguing with and totally disrespecting my mom. I actually was talking back to her. “Go ahead. Shake your head,” I said to her as she swung her head side-to-side at me in disappointment and shock. Yeah. Simultaneously sinning while reading the Bible. It was a pretty big argument with lots of back-talk, and we’re still not talking …
Something is really wrong with me, and I’m not sure what’s gotten into me lately. “Sin is crouching at the door,” but I am to master it. But as the supposed master of sin, what if I decide to let him in? As the master, I have that freedom, no? According to God, I’d be granting Death a visit; I, the host, would become the house slave. But the sound of his knock is quite beckoning. In fact, I think I’ve let him in already. And I don’t remember when I did.
Much of what I read today came as a quick blur. Maybe it was because my mother’s voice and my voice were far too loud for me to hear what I was even reading. And even after our argument, I just found myself too angry to hear what God had to say … other than this section:
“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ … you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people.” (Deuteronomy 13:6-9)
I find it so easy to turn from God. Death has made a long journey and he is willing to greet me at my doorpost bearing a basket of comfort and pleasure. God, who supposedly is omnipresent and omnipotent, seems off in the mountainside taking His precious time (lest He tire Himself), promising from afar the great Gift He has for me: Himself.
I read this book called Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill. I thought it a good read. It made me look forward to the day when God would look at my struggles as I waited for Him. He would look at me and see His Son, who gave me strength to fight until the end. He’d give me strength to fasten my locks to Death as I prepared my house for the coming Bridegroom. And at His arrival, I’d hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”
But I don’t feel empowered anymore. Washed and Waiting may have been a good read, but I really am tired of waiting. It’s times like these when I’d much prefer the fate of the idolatrous Israelite.
1:51 am • 26 July 2012
Day 28 - Theodosius
Weird Bible Fact: When Jesus was captured and arrested, it appears there was a young, naked guy following Him.
“And a young man followed Him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.” (Mark 14:51-52)
3:37 pm • 21 July 2012
Day 27 - Theodosius
The story of Balaam has always intrigued me. (Pretty much any non-Israelite who communicated with God or had astounding, “insider” knowledge of Abraham’s laudable God intrigues me.)
- Would Balaam have been a priest of the Zoroastrian religion? Seeing that he was a contemporary of Moses, it would have been understandable if he were a follower of polytheistic faiths - just like the rest of the faiths during those times. Rather, it seems he was monotheistic (Numbers 22:8), which is especially (and specifically) a characteristic of the Zoroastrian religion. It’s just baffling how God still used this outsider as His own prophet.
- What about King Melchizedek? Where did he come from and what knowledge did he have that he could bless the one and only God, Abraham’s God (Genesis 14)? He is mentioned in a mere verse or two, and yet Paul extracts a whole theological essay about Jesus being the High Priest of the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7). What the heck, dude.
- What caused Ruth to bless God and cry to her mother-in-law, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16)?
- And Job. He was not of Israel as far as I know. In fact, he was an inhabitant of the far-away land of Uz. He was healthy and wealthy. Yet, he did not make this a reason not to have a firm faith in God. From where did this Godly knowledge come? From where did this faith ignite? When God dealt with Israel in the desert, Israel angrily cursed at God every time (e.g. Numbers 20:3). But when God dealt with Job by means of loss and sickness, Job still blessed God: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
None of this was meant to put Balaam in a good light, because his overall story is rather twisted. But it’s just intriguing how God used (and saved) people who weren’t initially His own.
4:23 am • 21 July 2012
Day 26 - Theodosius
Sometimes, as I read the Torah, I just think that Moses and Aaron were theocratically in cahoots with one another. Did God really tell you that, Moses? Or is it you just trying to keep things going your way?
I especially thought this when a poor idiot went out to gather sticks on the Sabbath after the bajillionth time God said not to work on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36). The result: a good, old fashioned stoning. And immediately after, God decides to talk about tassels. Woo. Accessories!
Anywho, according to Jesus, the Sabbath was made to keep the needs of man - not for man to keep the requirements of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). Quite frankly, I don’t know where Jesus got this idea from, because the Law says that the Sabbath is for God, not for man, and it is kept unto Him, not unto man (Deuteronomy 5:12), and that His people are to keep the requirements of the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 5:14).
Why did Jesus not allow the Pharisees to stone the adulterous woman who was caught in the act (John 8:1-15)? Instead, He outsmarts the Pharisees and says, “Let anyone who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” How and why then does Jesus, who is supposed to be the same just God who was displayed in the Torah, permit the constantly rebellious, sinful Israel to cast stones at the poor Sabbath breaker and the young half-Egyptian, half-Israelite boy for blashpeming (Leviticus 24:10-16)?
For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” (Exodus 33:19, Romans 9:15).
Then show mercy and compassion to me, God, because I know that Your kindness brings life and repentance.
1:48 am • 20 July 2012
Day 25 - Theodosius
“But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:22-24)
Help my unbelief!
5:43 pm • 18 July 2012
Day 24 - Theodosius
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)
I am ashamed of Jesus’ words. Almost every single waking moment, I loathe and despise His Word.
As much as I wish I could have stated that with a sense of joy and liberation and relief, there’s a great part of me that knows I’m missing a great part of the Gospel and this part of me yearns to cling to what He says. Because He’s the only Truth, and I firmly know that there’s no relief in falsehoods and fallacies. I cannot deny that He is the Son of God - perfect, holy, blameless, worthy of praise. With my whole life, I cannot muster the strength to ever publicly lie and declare these words, that “There is no God; Christ is dead” because I know well that Christ is risen and is God of the living.
Yet I don’t want His will. I don’t want to bend to His ways. And it is never difficult for me to think, “Fuck this shit. If I do my own thing, maybe He’ll save me from myself regardless. If I belong to Him, He’ll find me if I wander.” After all, whomever He frees is free. And whoever is not found to be in Christ will never stand before God.
Where, then, do I stand amongst these two groups? Am I a servant to the prince of the air or a son of the great Abba? Am I lost or just less found? Will Christ be ashamed of me or allow me to come to Him? Because if I am left to my own, then I am as free as a dead man can be. I can go out and love any person whom I want to love and experience whatever sensation I want to experience. And what a silly thought: perhaps I’d even be able to enjoy it all! Yes! To live and to love without these constant convictions. I think that’s what I want, after all, God.
But if I am free, then miraculously show Your will to me and miraculously open my eyes and miraculously humble me and miraculously deliver me. Though lives are transformed on my left and right, I’ve really lost hope that I’ll ever be changed.
2:54 am • 18 July 2012