Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hidden Treasure

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." (Mat 13:44 - KJV)

Jesus' parable describing the Kingdom of Heaven says some important things about this new journey I am on - setting my "affection" on things above (Colossians 3:3).

What would motivate someone to buy a metal detector? They, probably, believe something of value can be found below the surface in special locations, and they are willing to invest their money and time to look.

The man in Jesus' parable had somehow found a buried treasure in a field which he did not, yet, own and thought it of such great value he did two (2) things:

  • The first thing he did was hide it. Since it was originally hidden, I guess he re-hid it.

  • The second thing he did was sell all he had and bought the entire field. I guess he was unsure how much treasure was there and he wanted it all.

There are several things to learn here:
1. The Kingdom of God is the treasure and is very valuable, so much so that the man (who probably represents us) was calculating that all he had was worth the purchase. God's Kingdom is of such value that when recognized would lead any sane man to do what ever it would take to obtain that treasure.

2. The man could not get the treasure without purchasing the field; there was no sneaking around in the middle of the night to pull out the treasure. He wasn't trying to steal someone else's treasure he wanted to own it legitimately.

3. He joyfully sold all he had. Imagine the neighbors and his friends watching him cash out all he had and purchase a "worthless" plot of earth. "What a waste" they would have thought; that is until they started noticing his change in lifestyle.

4. The first thing he did was hide it. This is initially disturbing, because isn't the kingdom of Heaven to be shared instead of concealed? I think the point of this is that he wanted to make sure he had all he could hold before sharing. He wanted to take his time and enjoy it at his own pace without someone interfering or spoiling it first. I believe God wants us to share out of the overflow of what we experience of Him. We can't honestly recommend something for others we have not experienced for ourselves; God does not expect us to.

5. Where one looks is very important. Those who purchase metal detectors don't just use them anywhere, they pick a place where they think the things they want are located. The Bible tells us in Colossians 2:3 that it is in Christ where all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy the man with lots of children?

Psalm 127:4-5 says, "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."

Being a former Gothardite I took this scripture to heart; my wife and I have eight (8) sons.

It was fine when they were small, but as they have gone their own way and chosen their own lifestyle, some of them much earlier than they should, I have struggled with my emotions over their choices and actions. I have never cried so much as I have with several of my children and I have often been anything but happy, sometimes at the point of despair.

Psalms 127:5 has haunted me and over this past year, or so, and I have secretly questioned the validity of that verse, asking God where that "happy" is that I am supposed to be experiencing.

There are several things that I have decided along the way, not the least of which is that life is not over and God's work in my children is not finished; it is very likely that as they mature I shall become happy and grateful for God's directive and my choice to have them. Each time I bring my sorrow to Christ I am reminded of my many blessings.

Today God pointed out that I am happy with and in Him and my struggles with the things most dear to my heart have moved me to seek Him more. He comforts my sorrow and gives hope in the future. It was then I realized that Psalm 127:5 doesn't say the man with many children will be happy with and in those children. Coupled with the scripture from Colossians 3:1-3, where it says to set my affections on things above and not on things on the earth, I realized the happiness is from learning how to move my affections from the natural love of my children to the supernatural love for Christ, to draw comfort from Christ's care and his presence in the midst of distress.

I am truly happy and, perhaps, had I not chosen to have the number of children I have I would not have become so.


A new journey begins, I think.

A new journey begins, I think, at my discovery two days ago while doing research on Colossians 1:24. Someone on the internet quoted John Piper's book, "Desiring God".

Piper's point was that God should be enjoyed; that the desire for pleasure is a God given desire and that it finds its satisfaction in Him. Piper referred to C.S.Lewis' statement that our passions are not too strong, but too weak - so weak they are satisfied with sinful acts and that when Christ is fully engaged nothing else will do; we lose our "taste" for sin.

I am seeing scripture in a whole new way; noticing the "comfort", "satisfaction", and "affection" words and indicators.

In Colossians 3:1-3, where I have been camped out for a while, I noticed it says to set my "affection" on things above.

The question to ask, of course, is "What are the things above that I am to set my affection on?” I think the primary answer is God, himself (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

I can be affectionate towards God and that affection, by God's work in me, can be so intense and that pleasure so great that nothing else will satisfy.

That is what I want and I think it shall be interesting where this journey of discovery shall go.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What we DO changes how we THINK.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled..." (Colossians 1:21)

We tend to think we are rational beings; acting according to our thoughts, ideals, and goals. Instead, I have come to believe that, except in rare instances, we think according to what we do.

What we think is, actually, changed by what we do.

I have had friends, and pastors (not always the same thing), who were philosophically opposed certain activities and actions until they started doing them, and then those activities were OK and to be viewed in a new light.

This can work negatively and positively:

Negatively, if we start doing what we know is wrong we will eventually come to see it as not so bad, and then to be fully embraced. It is like a wedge which opens a small gap at first and, once started, continues until it is fully implanted in ways we never thought we would allow.

Also negatively, if someone wrongs another, the perpetrator will, eventually, start thinking of the other as deserving those actions. The blame balances out the initial guilt felt by the perpetrator and serves to justify their actions.

The good news of the Gospel is that those who are alienated from God (and others) in their minds (thoughts) by wicked works (deeds), can receive forgiveness, through being joined to Christ Jesus, and have their minds renewed, their works forgiven, and their relationships restored.

We can, then, put this same principle to work positively:
  • To feel love toward someone difficult to love, do loving deeds to them - it will affect your thoughts and actually make them easier to love;

  • To feel closer to God in a "dry" season, do Christ-like things - it will affect your mind and your thoughts will improve.