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Friday, October 1, 2010

Par-don My English

Sometimes the English language doesn’t make sense. The words, good and hot, may have nothing to do with temperature. Far out may have nothing to do with distance. Space cadet may not identify a person studying to be an astronaut. A blast often refers to a good time, not an explosion. And grass may mean something entirely different from what we see on our lawns.

Often, the golf term par doesn’t make sense when we apply it to non-golfing situations. A teacher may write on a report card: “Johnny’s work has not been up to par recently.” Taken at face value, this report would mean Johnny’s work has been outstanding. After all if a golf score is not up to par, it is below par and, therefore, outstanding. A Father’s Day card may read: “Dad, when it comes to fathers, you are far above par.” Meant to flatter, the term far above par is hardly music to a golfer’s ears. And who hasn’t shrugged and sighed that a string of bad circumstances is par for the course. How can a string of bad circumstances be such a good thing as par for the course?

God’s words, written in the Bible, are consistent with His character. He is truthful (Deuteronomy 32:4); His words are truthful. He is wise (Jude 25); His words impart wisdom (Psalm 119:98). He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9); His words are faithful (Psalm 119:86, 138; Titus 1:9). He is the author of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33); His Word is the agent of peace (Psalm 119:165). He is the Creator of life (Genesis 1:1); His Word generates spiritual life (1 Peter 1:22, 23). God says what He means and means what He says.

Read Psalm 119:97-104, and expect God’s words to direct you in the right way. His words are par for the course any day and every day!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Bible and the Bard of Avon

Rumor has it that William Shakespeare slipped his name into Psalm 46 when the King James Version was nearly completed in 1610. According to the rumor, he did this to commemorate his 46th birthday. If you count 46 words from the psalm’s beginning, you will arrive at the word “shake.” Counting back 46 words from the end will take you to the word “spear.” Omit “Selah” from each count.

Whether William Shakespeare left his mark on the Bible is highly debatable, but his writings allude to the Bible so often it seems clear the Bible left its mark on him.

Some believers mark their Bible as they read it. They may underline key words, phrases, or sentences. Or they may highlight certain verses in color. Green identifies verses that refer to spiritual growth and/or eternal life. Blue identifies verses that refer to heaven. Red is used for verses that refer to blood atonement. Black identifies verses about sin, and gold identifies verses that contain promises. But marking the Bible means little or nothing if the Bible doesn’t leave its mark on us.

A life marked by the Bible will help others see the reality of Christ’s presence and power. It may persuade some to believe on the Savior.

King David testified, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Part of "All Things" Don't We Understand?

About 2,000 years ago Asaph the psalmist, musician, and choir director was almost at wits end. He had puzzled long and hard to understand why wicked people prospered. Life just didn’t seem fair. He wrestled with a heavyweight question, “Does the Most High have knowledge?” (Psalm 73:11b).

Asaph finally discovered the answer in “the sanctuary of God” (verse 17). Not only did God know the wicked were prospering while His people were suffering, He also knew He would punish the wicked someday. He would destroy the wicked, sweep them away, and “despise them as fantasies” (verses 19, 20).

Maybe you have stood in Asaph’s sandals or you are wearing them right now. You look at unfair personal situations and wonder if God really knows what is going on in your life. If He knew your troubles, wouldn’t He fix them—make them go away?

What Christian hasn’t been tempted to think God doesn’t know everything? Sure, He knows all about the composition of outer space, but does He know all about the bills piling up on my kitchen table? Does He know how badly I am hurting from the loss of my spouse? Does He know my son hasn’t contacted me for weeks? Does He know how lonely I feel? And what about those nagging joint pains that keep me from doing things younger people do so easily? Does He know?

“Open theism,” A new twist to theology (a twisted theology) insists God doesn’t know everything. If correct, this theology can’t put its arms around us when we hurt and assure us God understands and cares. It leaves us quite alone and helpless to see God at work in our dark days.

But the Bible is still the best theology book, and it still teaches us that God is all knowing. Nothing escapes His knowledge, not even that recent utility company’s rate increase or that sudden stiffness of the right knee.

The apostle Peter often put his foot in his mouth, but he spoke wisely in response to Jesus’ third interrogation, “Do you love me?” He responded, “Lord, you know all things” (John 21:17).

Let’s side with Peter in the open theism debate. The Lord does know all things. If we know He knows all things, we can trust Him to use all things for our good and His glory.