Our Daily Food

Autumn

We have a cute little white dog in our house, named Autumn. She is a maltese bichon, who loves everyone she has ever met. You can read the story about how she came into our home here.

Every morning, her breakfast routine is exactly the same. My wife prepare her an egg, a spoonful of yogurt, an omega supplement, and one scoop of dry dog food. And every day Autumn’s response is the same. She watches intently as my wife prepares her food for her, licking her chops. Then, she gobbles it down. You can check out a video of the event here.

As I recently watched this taking place, I reflected upon how she is totally dependent upon us. She looks intently at us because we are her provider. Without our provision, she would surely perish.

Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). These aren’t mere words. This is reality. We are just as dependent upon the Lord every day to provide us with our daily needs as our dog is. Without the daily provision of the Lord, we too would perish.

 

If he should set his heart to it
and gather to himself his spirit and his breath,
all flesh would perish together,
and man would return to dust (Job 34:14-15).

Textualism

Scalia

Antonin Scalia passed away in his sleep last Saturday (February 13, 2016). As I have been reading a bit about his life, one thing caught my attention: his view of the Constitution. He was a textualist. That is, he looked intently at the ordinary meaning of the words of the constitution to determine how to apply it. This is in contrast with the view of judicial activism, where a judge’s personal views impacts his (or her) decisions.

Scalia famously said, “If you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.”

The issues surrounding the interpretation of the Constitution are similar to the issues surrounding the interpretation of the Bible. The text of the Bible stands as God’s Word to us. Our task is to understand the ordinary meaning of the words of the Bible and act upon them. There will certainly be some things that we don’t like, especially when our well-loved sins are confronted. At these moments we can either accept the authority of the Bible or reject it. We can either be a textualist or a judicial activist.

The Bible clearly understands these two positions. First of all comes the textualist. This one will read the Bible and seek to apply in. Whenever something difficult to believe comes his way, he will cry out, “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24). When he fails, he will confess his sin, admitting that his behavior was in error and seeking the forgiveness of our gracious God (1 John 1:9).

On the other side is the judicial activist. He will interpret the Bible in accordance with his own views. So, if there is something he reads that he doesn’t like, he conveniently denies the Bible. Of these people, Paul writes, “Although they know God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking” (Romans 1:21). If something confronts his lifestyle, he will suppress truth so he can continue to live as he wants. Paul said that these are those who “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).

When it comes to the Bible, are you a textualist or a political activist?

The Genie

Genie

A genie is a magical creature of Arabian folklore, who is imprisoned in an oil lamp. When someone rubs the lamp, the genie is released, willing and able to grant wishes to the one who set him free. All sorts of stories result as wishes are granted by genie.

The magic of the fairy tale is that it easily engages us into thinking of what sort of wishes we might make if we happened to rub a lamp and set a genie free. Would we wish for a new car or a new home or for millions of dollars? Would we wish for success or for health or for world peace? How wonderful it would be to have such a genie! At some point, however, we come back to reality, realizing that the genie is mere fantasy.

Sadly, there are many who treat God like a genie who grants wishes. They pray to God, wishing for some good result in their life like health or wealth. Sometimes they pray in a crisis for a dying friend or for a wayward son or for an ailing marriage. But when God doesn’t act like a genie in granting their every desire, they give up on God, because he wasn’t working for them. Soon they come to deny God altogether, thinking that he is simply a fable.

How foolish this is. It is based upon a faulty understanding of exactly who God is. He is not our servant, compelled to obey our every whim. Rather, we are his creatures, created to love him and obey him. When he does’t answer our prayers, it isn’t because he is inept or imaginary. It is because he has plans that we know not of. Let us submit our will to his.

“You thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you”
(Psalm 50:21).

Veneer

 

veneer
Veneer can make sub-quality wood look great. The wood itself may be unattractive plywood or particle board, but glue a thin (1/8 inch) strip of oak on the outside and the wood looks like solid oak.

Many people live as if they were veneer-covered plywood. Whenever they are in public, they put on their good face. But in private they live otherwise.

The Pharisees of old lived like this. Jesus called them “white-washed tombs,” which look beautifully clean on the outside, but inwardly are full of decomposing bodies (Matthew 23:27). Jesus described them as cups that were clean on the outside, but on the inside were full of greed and self-indulgence (Matthew 23:25). To such people, Jesus said, “Woe to you.”

Over my years of pastoral ministry, I have discovered that people can hide their true selves pretty well (for decades, even). But eventually, their hypocrisy will be exposed, either during their lives or during the final judgment.

The good news is that we don’t need to be clean to be received by God. Neither do we need to cover our lives with a veneer of righteousness. The opposite is true. We must confess our uncleanness. God will take the old wood and transform it into something beautiful that doesn’t need to be hidden.

I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:5).

The Iceberg

Iceberg

Icebergs are large chunks of ice that float freely in the open water. Some are small, measuring only a few feet across. And some are gigantic, being the size of a small country. They are formed when chunks of ice break off from glaciers, ice shelves, or even a larger iceberg.

The common feature of all icebergs is that only a tenth of the volume of an iceberg is above the water. This is because of the relative densities of ice and seawater.

The iceberg is a picture of many facets of life. The books we read have been through an untold number of edits that we have never seen. We simply see the final product. The cars we drive have unknown hours of research behind them. We simply enjoy the opportunity to use them for transport. Marriage problems that come to the attention of others will have a depth of other issues below the surface. We only see a little of what is wrong. The people we know and love have untold backgrounds and experiences that have shaped who they are. We only enjoy their presence today.

When it comes to living life before God, there are many things going on all around us that we have little knowledge of or little control over. But for those of us who love God, we can rest in the assurance that God is working in the unseen details of our lives. This is true of our present circumstances. “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB). This is true of our future circumstance. “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9, ESV).

So live life trusting God with the unseen details in your life.

Bailout

Bailout

In 2008 the world faced a financial crisis. Stocks all over the world took a downturn not seen since the Great Depression in the 1930s. In the United States financial institutions and the automotive industry were in crisis. For right or wrong, the United States government bailed out these industries with billions of dollars.

Were the truth to be known, our sin has brought our lives into real crisis. We need help. We need a bailout. Unfortunately, no government can help us. We owe a spiritual debt that we can never pay. But God can. He can bail us out.

Jesus Christ died upon the cross to bail us out of our sin debt, if we but believe. Jesus “canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).

Our Public Prayer

PublicPrayer

Perhaps the most famous prayer in all of the Bible is called, “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is better named, “The Disciple’s Prayer” as it is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Here is the prayer, …

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
You kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but delivers us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13)

If you know this prayer, you have probably prayed it hundreds of times. Have you ever noticed the pronouns in the prayer? Jesus taught us to pray in the first person plural (i.e. “our,” “us,” and “we”).

Certainly, it is very appropriate to pray this prayer alone in your closet. It’s helpful to focus your attention upon the character and kingdom of God before asking for your needs. But Jesus didn’t give this prayer for us to use alone. He gave it to us to use in public. It is a prayer to be prayed with others. This is our public prayer.