Saturday, November 20, 2010

What does this actually mean?

A friend of mine asked me about I John 4:18 which reads:
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
(New International Version)

Below is my reply. It is good to remember our Father's perfect Agape' love!

Thanks for asking me about this. I will do my best to give you a faithful exegesis. If you haven't done so yet, I would recommend reading a fuller context for this passage beginning with v13.

Lets start by looking at the main words in this text: Fear, Love, Perfect, Punishment

The bible has two meanings for the word fear:
1. Respect/ Reverence
2. To be afraid
This passage is talking about #2.

The word for Love John is using is Agape'. I think you have a good grasp on this kind of love so I will not explain it.

Next is Perfect. This word has only one meaning and it is not what we typically think of or mean when we say 'perfect'. Our version of perfect means to be flawless, morally pure, sinless, without blemish, etc. When John uses this word it means: to be whole or complete, not lacking anything.

So when John combines these two, Agape' & Perfect, he is talking about a love that completes us, makes us whole, provides our every need and ultimately casts out any fear we may have about the future (which, as you know, from our perspective is quite uncertain and unpredictable). Picture us as a glass completely empty and the water that fills it all the way to the brim is God's Agape'. It fills us all the way to the top. Nothing else could be nor need be added.

Therefore, (with God's perfect agape' in us) we do not need to be afraid. Particularly of the future, i.e. Punishment; which seems to be John's immediate context for the cause of fear. The reason is that, while God's agape' is perfect, so is His punishment.

This punishment has to do with the coming Judgement John mentions a few sentences earlier. Those who do not have the love of God in them fear this day whereas those of us who do have God's agape in us long for it!

While John is addressing a fear that is specific (the eternal destiny of our soul) I believe this has a broader application. When we fear (eternal judgment or otherwise) it is because we do not trust God's agape' to be perfect and all we truly need. This lack of trust produces in us all manner of fear, doubt and worry: What will tomorrow bring? How will I provide for my family? Will my kids turn out ok? Am I a good parent? Do I have what it takes to accomplish the task God is calling me to? Will I be accepted by others? How will we survive in these troubled times? Will things really be OK? And so it goes.

Agape' expels every fear. I love the way John puts it: Agape DRIVES OUT fear. It is the picture of a strong man plowing every fear out of our path with God's agape. Like Jesus did when he cleansed the temple with a whip!

If we fear something it is because God's agape' has not been made perfect (fully made its way) in us. This compels us to know God more deeply and intimately in order that His Agape' may perfect in us what is lacking and producing our fear. And with Agape' made complete in us nothing can stop us from accomplishing God's will nor delay God from accomplishing His will through us! However, I am afraid (no pun intended) for the most part this is a life long process of learning how to trust God and not an instantaneous act on God's part.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions. I am happy to be here for you my friend.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don't Take My Word For It.

As I read through Acts 17 I am finding it hard to focus on just one thing to discuss. There is so much in this chapter that I love. This is hands down one of my favorite chapters in this book.

Let me focus on Paul’s visit to Berea (vs. 10-15). The main point of this section is found in verse 11; “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Paul preaches the same message everywhere he goes. He tells everyone that Jesus is Messiah, that he had to suffer and rise from the dead and reasoned with them from the Scriptures. The Bereans display an attitude towards truth that I think we all could benefit from adopting ourselves. Verse 11 says that they received the message with Eagerness and then Examined Paul’s message with the Word of God.

I ask myself how ‘eager’ I am to come to Anchor each week and worship with you all? Is that a word that describes me? Am I EAGER to hear God’s truth proclaimed or am I just coming out of a religious duty? One will keep me faithfully and joyfully coming back to corporate worship each week. The other may do the same but not with a light and joyful heart but rather with a heart that is tired and burdened with the yoke of religious duty. With this kind of heart I will soon find excuses to not bother joining the body in corporate worship… even if it is just for this one week (Not a good thing B.T.W.)

The other Characteristic the Bereans had was an ability/willingness to examine the Scriptures and test Paul to see if what he was telling them was the Truth. This is so important to do. While I am convinced Tim (and any guest speaker he invites to fill in for him) is faithful to prepare a message that is true to God’s Word, those who speak are still fallen people who have the potential to get it wrong. That is why we should never let our eagerness to hear the Word hinder us from examining the Word to make sure what is being taught is Truth.

Examining the Word for ourselves does a couple of things:

1. 1. It increases our knowledge of God’s Word.

2. 2. This increases our joy and love for God Himself.

3. 3. This in turn increases our Eagerness to know Him more.

4. 4. This causes us to want to Examine the Word even more.

Do you see the pattern here? 1 leads to 2, 2 leads to 3, 3 leads to 4 and 4 takes us back to 1. This circle inevitably produces in us the noble character the Bereans had. But by all means –

Don’t Take My Word For It.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Grace and Truth

I am currently struggling with the tension found in clinging to both grace and truth.

So far here is what I have come up with... (insert crickets chirping)

I guess I'll have to keep thinking about it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

China Bound

Well I am off to China on Friday. I am very excited to be going to teach at an English camp for 2 weeks. I have never gone on a over-seas 'mission' trip before. I hope to learn a lot about China, the people and their way of life. Should be fun!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thoughts from Mt. Carmel - Day 1

This is a statue of Elijah killing one of the prophets of Ba'al. When I came to Mt. Carmel I was reminded of how powerful this event truly is. It is about a man who was the only prophet of Yahweh left in the land of Israel. He challenged all the prophets of Ba'al to a contest of sorts in order to show once and for all that Yahweh was the one, true and only God.

Both Elijah and the prophets of Ba'al had to sacrifice a bull on the alter and call out to their God. Whomever's God answered the prayer by consuming the sacrifice with fire from heaven would demonstrate whose God was the real God. As you may know, the prophets of Ba'al cried out to him all day long and got nothing. Elijah, on the other hand, cried out to God once and He answered not only by consuming the sacrifice but the entire alter and water that was thrown on it as well!

God had made His point. The LORD alone was the true and living God.

This caused me to think about our current day and age. We live in a time of plurality and relativism. There is no room for objective, absolute truth. This statue reminded me of Elijah's response to God's demonstration... He rounded up all 400 prophets of Ba'al and killed them. 

We don't do that much today. I mean that figuratively more that physically of course. Today we are in a culture very tolerant of "other religions", "other ideas of truth", etc. We no longer take an active stand against these things. We simply say (to ourselves of course), "Well I respect your opinion but I have a different one and that's O.K. too." We may very well take a personal, private stand and believe what we know is true. But to willingly challenge these ideas and belief systems to a duel is not part of mainstream Christianity in the United States. There are a few brave souls but they are definitely not the everyday believer.

Maybe Elijah's approach is not the best method for demonstrating the truth of God's existence to our culture today. Still, I can not help but think that the spirit of what he did is exactly what we need in our culture today! Someone to draw a line in the sand and say, "Whose side are you on? No more riding the fence!"

But how do we translate that into our world? It is something I am thinking about.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Israel bound!

My wife and I will be headed to Israel for a 2 week visit. We will be leaving in a few weeks and I am looking forward to the trip. I have been challenged to keep a daily entry on my blog to act as a 'spiritual diary' of sorts. I have agreed to take up this challenge and hope you all will find it encouraging to your spirit.

Let me begin with a confession. I am looking forward to going but am not nearly as excited as some of my other friends who are going. I wonder if I should be more excited than I am about it. I think it will be a good trip and I am very thankful to be going. I have always hoped that I would be able to go visit the land I read about in Scripture. Now I get to do that!

I think the excitement will build the closer we get and the longer we are in Israel. I would appreciate your prayers. I would love for God to meet me in a special way there. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Its always the little things

Many of you may know that I have a daughter that has Autism. It has been a long road and there seems to be many occasions where I feel as though it will never end. 

Lately, however, it seems as though there is light starting to shine at the end of this long, dark tunnel we have been in. Usually change in our daughter comes so slowly that we never notice it. It usually takes someone that has not seen her in 6-12 months saying how much she has grown since the last time they saw her. 

Well, in the last couple of months I have begun to see a change in my daughter. She is more vocal and using words to try and communicate. She is starting to tell us hi and bye, I love you, and call us by name. She is also starting to use full sentences when asking a question or telling us what she is doing.

The big thing right now is she wants to dance. So she is always asking me or her brother to dance with her to the Christmas music that is playing. It has been very special to see, for the first time, some glimpses of the person within begin to emerge. 

I have a lot! More than I deserve. I am truly blessed! But there is nothing more satisfying to me than to see the many 'family memory moments' created by my children. With all the things that are on my Christmas list this year, I am finding the ones that bring me joy cannot be purchased in any store.

Why do we get lost in the temporal things? Why is it so easy? Sometimes I wish I was not such a sucker. Sometimes I wish I could remember...

It's always the little things!