I'm not all that great at writing, but I enjoy "thinking out loud" in written form. Sometimes I even change my own mind after reading what I've written! Other times I like what I say. I hope that you find something here to inspire you, to encourage you, to make you smile, or to make you think.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Christianity vs. Paganism - revisited

Last year I wrote several posts about the differences between Christianity and paganism. I think that the basic idea that Dr. Peter Jones works from that Christianity can be called “twoism" and paganism “oneism” has some merit. That is, in paganism, the Creator - creation distinction tends to be blurred. So do other important distinctions, like male and female, though that may be more a characteristic of post modernism. I suppose that post modernism can be seen as a form of modern paganism.

In other words, I think that the little “oneism” vs. “twoism” explanation is good as far as it goes. It explains what it explains. There is a difference between Christianity and paganism, after all.

However, even the Apostle Paul saw some merit in some Roman  ideas, ideas that were gleaned from pagan philosophers and poets. The Apostle John as well used a number of philosophical concepts that were actually borrowed from paganism. The idea that the God incarnate is the Logos is clearly taken from Greek philosophy. The idea that there is something which enlightens every man is also  a borrowed concept.

Lately I have been thinking that maybe oneism vs. twoism is a bit simplistic. After all, Christianity itself  has a kind of “oneism”.  That is, there is only one God, not many. There is also only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.  There is only one Church. Jesus Christ is the only Savior, the only way to God, the only source of truth revealed to mankind, the only source of life. That is all true.

Also, great Christian teachers and even saints have borrowed heavily from pagan philosophical concepts. No, that does not make them syncretistic or pagan themselves!  It does show that there is some value in some of what the great philosophers of the ancient world discovered through seeking truth. No, they did not get all of God’s truth that way, but they could naturally see a lot of truth by using the reasoning abilities that God had given them.

St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas are two examples of men of God who were able to find truth in pagan philosophy and use it in their defense of the Gospel.

After all, all truth is God’s truth. If we focus too much on the “twoist” nature of Christianity, then we might miss the great “oneist” truths of the Bible. The Bible can be said to be both “oneist” and “twoist.”  God’s truth is both, actually. It is oneist some ways, and twoist other ways.

Of course, Dr. Jones is focusing on monism, the philosophical concept behind pantheism.  In that sense, oneism is definitely a blurring of the Creator-creature distinction.

So, I do not reject all that Dr. Jones teaches, but there is more to the subject than just that.  In fact, I don’t really reject anything he teaches. I just think that there is a Biblical oneness - which he would not deny - and that pagans can, by using their God-given ability to reason, see and understand certain truths. No one can come to know Christ, though, without God’s revelation of the Gospel found in His Word.

Ephesians 4

Unity in the Body of Christ

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. 

Check out The Truth Exchange for some excellent articles of interest to all Christians. I have been thinking a lot about Ephesians 4 lately.  

Thursday, December 25, 2014

An Oboe Merry Christmas!

Last Sunday I debuted the oboe d'Amore at church on worship team and for communion.

Our team was short an electric bass, an electric guitar, and vocalist because of  out of town family commitments. So, the team members included myself on d'amore, Ben on the grand piano, Janet on her bass viol, and Josh on drums. It was more acoustic sounding, except that we were miked.

We got a lot of good complements, and people even clapped several times. The songs were all traditional Christmas hymns with a more contemporary setting. I improvise - that is make up - my parts with an emphasis on sustained tones with some embellishments and a few fancy noodly stuff thrown in. Fun. I also throw in the melody at times.

Everything is recorded, so in awhile, Ben will give me a recording of everything I have played in the last couple of months. Then I will see if it really sounded as good as we all felt it sounded!  Reality check.

My daughter said it sounded good - which is high praise coming from her! She's pretty picky. She also noticed that I was having a little trouble with breathing, which no one else noticed. I was. I had to use my asthma inhaler just before we played, and my lungs hurt just a wee bit. While my breathing on the d'amore is much more comfortable than it was a couple of months ago when I started playing her, there is still some discomfort.

So, I'm going to have to finally admit that my asthma is a bigger problem for me than what I want to face up to. Off to the doc. in the new year. I'm so much better than I was even a year ago - actually Sept. of 2013 was the last time I had bronchitis. That is a long stretch for me!  Maybe I can make it to be never having bronchitis again, let alone the flu or pneumonia!  Music must have healing properties at least to the extent that playing a wind instrument makes a person want to have more air!  It motivates me to get the help I need so I can keep blowing for many more years. :-)

My husband and I also did communion music. We played Of the Father's Love Begotten and Thou Who Wast Rich. Thou... uses the French melody Quelle Est Cette Odeur Agréable.

Here's something I wrote about the hymn Thou Who Wast Rich. from last year.   When I wrote this blog post last year, I had just returned from Honduras a few weeks before. My pastor friend and his family were really trying to change the church culture in the area where he lived. The prosperity Gospel with its emphasis on giving to wealthy preachers was something he abhored. In fact, in his church, he didn't even talk about tithing!  His people were poor, so how could he ask them to give up what they themselves needed to live on?  He and his wife were the ones being generous and encouraging true generosity, not giving in order to become rich or to make others rich.

It is something I had been thinking about a lot as well. So, this hymn expresses a lot of what I believe to be who Christ is and then who we are expected to be as followers of Christ - generous and giving, not greedy and taking. I want to live that way, myself. Christmas is a good time to remember Christ's sacrifice and the sacrifices we are to give in His name.

 It is one of my favorite Christmas hymns, or maybe one of my favorite hymns of all kinds.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oboe True Confessions

Okay, so I did a newby kind of really embarassing thing last Saturday. It was something that I have told students, even, to never do. It's sick 'em in oboe cleaning.

You see, the top of the upper joint of the oboe is quite narrow. You have to run a kind of thin silk swab that is sown onto a strong string with a weight at the end through the bore of the instrument. It's a bit tricky, since if you're not careful or if the swab is too thick, it will get stuck.

The oboe bore is conical shaped. Anyway, I've never gotten a swab stuck. Ever. Until last Saturday.

It was really stuck. I had pulled really, really hard to get it through. Oh, my!  Did I ever feel dumb.

I hadn't realized that the bore of the oboe d'Amore was even smaller at the very top than the regular oboe. The swab I use for my oboe is too large for the d'Amore. Duh!

So, on Monday I went into the local music store, and rather sheepishly confessed my transgression. The technician was in and was able to quickly get the piece of swab out. He told me that it was really jammed in there.

I knew that already. Anyway, d'Amore back in service. After Christmas, I'll take her in for a tune up. It's now broken in.  He'll check it all over to make any adjustments that may be needed.  Some of the notes aren't quite right pitch and response wise.  It can't all be me or the reeds. Honestly, it can't!

Sunday I hope to debut the instrument for communion music at our church. We shall see. I'll play my regular oboe for worship as well.

I love this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oboe D'Amore Update

Something very exciting arrived today. Well, I suppose not everyone would find it all that exciting, but I do. It's this!

Da L'opera Omnia Di J. S. Bach (Tuttii "Soli-duetti-trii E Passi Tecnici" Per Oboe, Oboe D'amore, Oboe Da Caccia, Taille (II Volume))

Very cool.  It's from Milan. This volume has oboe, oboe d'Amore, and English Horn parts to the Christmas Oratorio, the Easter Oratorio, and a bunch of other things. Fun. 

Bach was very kind to the oboe, all of them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Oboe Update

Well, I did a crazy thing last month. I purchased an oboe d'Amore.

What do I want to do with it? Well, try to tame it in the first place. There's the breathing issue and the reed issue and the fingers issue and all that.

I suffer from asthma, so a few years ago when I purchased a new oboe, I needed one that was free blowing and reeds that were kind of soft. Reed making was never my favorite thing to do, so I talked to a fellow oboe player who was also trying to return to the instrument. She was suffering from lyme disease. Because of her physical limitations, she had started to use ready made reeds and had purchased an oboe that was easier to play than her Loree from when she was actively playing.

I thought that was a great idea, given the amount of time as well as the amount of money I had to invest in reeds. Reedmaking takes about half of an oboe players time, and I wanted to just play and not whittle so much. I still have to adjust the reeds, but that's not so bad.

The Fox 300 I purchased is an asthmatic's dream oboe. Yes, you lose some projection and richness,  but it sounds very nice. It has all the bells and whistles of any professional oboe. Also, I don't have to worry about it cracking, like my old oboe did.

Now the d'Amore is a different animal, but not too different. My asthma is much better than it was a few years ago. Our little Cocker Spaniel, Sam, has been gone about 3 years, now. Our parakeets died a year or so ago. So, we are pet free. They were our daughter's pets, but all parents know how that goes. I made some other changes in bedding and stuff like that, and it has made a huge difference.

So, I thought maybe I could fill up a larger oboe made of Grenadilla. Man, I have to work hard to build up stamina - which is a good thing. It's coming along, but that part surprised me. I never had problems with the English Horn when I played it in college, but that was how long ago, now?

This is very good for me in so many ways.

I may have to break down and start making my own.  The reeds I purchased for the d'Amore are not very well made. I have to practically remake them anyway. We shall see.

Of course, for an oboe player, it's always the reed, the reed, the reed... :-)  What a bunch of whiners we are!

Stubborn little things. They have to learn new positions, but not new fingerings. Old dogs always have trouble learning new tricks, but my sisu will prevail.

Sisu is what makes Finns sit in a hot sauna and then go jump in a frozen lake. So, it makes us do crazy things.

"Sisu is a Finnish word generally meaning determination, bravery, and resilience."
- Wikkipedia

My goal with all of this?  Okay, so now comes the really weird part. I want to play Gospel blues oboe. My muse is Mahalia Jackson. 

Also, I have been playing my regular oboe in the worship team at our church. I love that, since I get to improvise my own parts. It's getting so I don't really need the lead sheet, so I am slowly weaning myself away from the printed page. Of course, the worship songs are straight, so it is easier for me to get into it.

The blues are a different genre, of course. We shall see. I'm trying to record something every day on Sound Cloud. That keeps me motivated. Also, I can check my progress. 

Another thing I want to do is learn the d'Amore parts to Bach's works. A book is coming in the mail and is supposed to arrive on Christmas Eve. 

Never too late to dream new dreams and try new things. You never know where they may lead. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Okay, so my oboe and I have kind of an off again, on again relationship - a bit like a rocky love affair. Right now it's on.

We have a few gigs coming up - 1,) the wedding of the sister of our son-in-law; 2.) a Christmas program at a large church in the neighboring town. That involves a real orchestra my husband and I get to play in. Rehearsals start some time this month. ; 3.) some communion music for our church; 4.) and I get to play my oboe in the worship band at church - which is a bit odd, since I play along with keyboard, drum, vocalists, keyboard, and electric guitars. I call it a rock band, but my daughter reminds me it just worship music. No matter. I'm very excited - too excited, actually - about being able to play my oboe in a rock band. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Hey, if it involves drums and electric guitars, it has to be a rock band, right?

I'm also thinking of calling my old jazz teacher for some lessons. Well, actually he was our daughter's tenor sax teacher when she was in high school, and I took about a month's worth of lessons from him. He even had me play in one of his recitals. So, I learned K.C. Blues out of the Charlie Parker Omnibook and played it. Of course, his other students were all kids, but hey!  He told me it sounded hip - and then we giggled. He even wanted to learn oboe himself, since he thought it was well-suited for jazz.

I got my oboe overhauled. I got new reeds. I got my Charlie Parker Omnibook. I also got my Bach b Minor Mass and pretend that the continuo is an electric bass guitar.  I'm gonna' give Dave a call. Well, at least I'll have fun with this. It's good to try new things.

Maybe I'll get an English Horn. It might be better suited to jazz, even.

My daughter mocks me and is not impressed.  Meh.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Killing Sin - Like a Change of Clothes - John Owen - part 2

Colossians 3
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,

So, when we put off all the sinful "stuff" that Paul lists earlier in Colossians 3, then we are ready to put on Christ. We are not left uncovered. That is, we don't just remove the bad stuff, we put on the good stuff. 

Again, Paul reminds us that all of this putting off and putting on is in the context of a relationship with God. This is what God chose us for. This is what He wants to do in our lives, with our co-operation.  

He wants us to take off the sinful things so He can clothe us with beautiful things. We may think that we look just fine in the old clothes of our sin.  Actually, we don't. We don't even look good to others, let alone to God. 

If we are going around sinning sexually and being greedy, we don't look good.  Some are able to hide their sin better, but we all have it lurking in the deep recesses of our souls. 

Notice that we are holy and beloved if we know Christ.  That should give us both comfort and motivation.  Since we are holy and beloved, we are motivated to put on the beautiful clothing that God has for us. 

Compassionate hearts:
Since we know our own struggles with sin, we should be compassionate.  I know that we Christians don't always show this, but please remember. Whenever there is a tragedy anywhere in the world, Christians are the first responders.  We are a compassionate people. Even Christian groups that I do not agree with show compassion in many ways. This is a characteristic of Christianity.  

We have see it in the recent slide here in Western Washington in Oso.  All kinds of Christian groups and churches have responded with compassion. 

Yes, government agencies have done the biggest part of the work, and we are all grateful for their sacrifices.  It is not just Christians who have responded, but Christians have responded with compassionate hearts. 

13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 

14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This section is really, really clear.  This is the Christian's reward for putting off the old junk in our lives. 

Here's a list:
Love, peace, thankfulness, the word of Christ in you richly, part of a larger group in the body of Christ, you're not alone anymore, wisdom, admonishment in a loving community, music!, heartfelt gratitude to God, purpose in life as we do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.  We are part of a family that extends beyond the walls of our  own congregation. 

Killing Sin - Like a Change of Clothes - John Owen

Colossians 3

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

The Apostle Paul, here, is talking to Christians.  Being raised with Christ refers to the new birth, or regeneration, or the new life we have in Christ. There are a number of Biblical terms that are used to show how a person who believes in Christ from the heart is no longer the same person they were before.  They have entered into a new kind of living, so this new life should show on the outside in what a person does, says, and thinks. 

Regeneration is the new birth.  Conversion is the change of life that follows new birth. If there is no change, then there probably has been no new birth either.  

We tell children that God gives us a new "want to" after we are born again.  Where before we just wanted to do whatever we wanted to do, we now want to love, obey, and follow Jesus.  

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 

We still live on this earth, but our heart setting is now on heavenly things.  

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

We continue to live here, but our old way of life died.  This has to do with what is called  our identification with Christ. Christ died for our sins. Our sins were nailed to the cross as it were.  So, in a sense, we died with Christ on the cross.  Our new life is hidden with Christ in God. That is a very safe and secure place to be.  The things of this world come and go, but our safe place in Him stays the same throughout all eternity. 

Meanwhile, we are still on the earth. How are we supposed to live down here, then?

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

This is our hope, and it is a done deal, a sure thing.  Christ will return one day just as He promised.  You can read about that in Acts 1. At that point, we will enter into His presence.  Remember, the idea of glory has to do with His abiding presence.  We will be in His presence forever, then. 

It is common for people to say things like, "My husband is my life" or "My wife is my life" or "My children are my life."  That means that they are precious to us, the most important of relationships in our lives. 

For a believer, Christ is our life. He is the most precious person in our lives.  We could lose everything and everyone else, but we can never lose Christ. He is God's abiding presence in us through the Holy Spirit.  What a wonderful comfort and hope! 
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 

In light of the fact that Christ is our life and our life is hidden in Christ with God and we are raised to new life in Christ, we need to get rid of the things that used to fill up our days and thoughts.  Here are some of the things that we must put to death. 

Sexual immorality, impurity, passion:
This is a polite way of saying all kinds of sexual sin.  Paul did not have to spell it out for people. In fact, we probably don't need it spelled out in our day.  It especially has to do with satisfying sexual desires outside the bond of marriage. 

There are many good books written from a Christian perspective on the subject of marriage and sex within marriage.  Paul here is specifically addressing prohibited sexual activity. 

The Old Testament Law does go into more detail on that subject if you care to look into it more to see what the Bible prohibits and what the Bible allows.  Many Christians would prohibit things that are not prohibited in the Bible. Many Christians have been very uncomfortable with the Song of Solomon as well.  Anyway, sex is not sin in and of itself.  It is the improper use of this gift that Paul is talking about here. 

We might be okay in the area of sexual sin - though that is unlikely - , but what about wanting things you cannot have?  That hits close to home.  There are legitimate needs that we have.  This is a struggle that hits very close to home for all of us. 

Covetousness is especially bad when it makes people envious of what others have. The Bible talks a lot about trusting God to supply our needs and about being content with what we have.  It also talks about not being so content that we quit working or quit caring for our families.  There are legitimate needs.  There are also times that God gives us things that we don't really need, but that we just want. He is a good Father.  Balance in life is hard to achieve. 

So, be content, work for what you need, be grateful, and be generous?  I would think that those  things would go a long way to killing covetousness. 

On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

Strong warning, and motivation to quit sinning in these areas.  These things are especially a slap in the fact to God.  

 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 

Wow!  If we weren't shaken up by the other list, this one will get us for sure.  Remember, this passage begins with regeneration and the work of the Spirit in our lives.  We put these things off so we can put on Christ.  

It is like changing clothes, it seems to me. I'm sure I've heard that somewhere.  

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

this is pretty clear.  We were created originally in the image of God. 
(Genesis 1)   So, the new birth is the beginning of a renewal and restoration of that image in us.  I think of it like a painting that has been ruined. The Artist takes the painting and begins to restore it to what it was supposed to be in the first place.  

He is making something beautiful.  I am reminded of an old Gospel song by the Gaithers.  Something Beautiful. 

11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

In Christ, all the things that separate one believer from another are "fixed".  

I'll deal with the rest of the passage later.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Killing Sin - John Owen on the Work of the Holy Spirit

 Now on to John Owen.  He was a Puritan pastor and author of great theological works.  He was also a contemporary of John Bunyan.  His writings are kind of hard to understand since the English language has changed so much from his time to ours.

He wrote a little book called On the Mortification of Sin in Believers. Now, that is kind of a scary title, and the books is kind of scary as well.  In fact, since this is my blog and I'm not a scholar, nor do I write all that well, I will take the liberty of correcting John Owen!  Well, I know that's pretty cheeky, but he is not here to defend himself. My mind is not always very organized all the time, so please bear with me - or not.

Notice that this little treatise was written for Christians.  People who are not Christians may not understand.  I will probably post more about this book.  You see, we are told to kill sin in our lives.  There are many wrong ways to go about this, ways that lead to legalism and despair.  If done the right way, the killing of sin in our lives leads to peace and relief.  Even more important, it leads to a wonderful walk with God and a deep friendship with Him.  So, it is very important for believers to understand how to properly kill sin in our lives.

Sin is an enemy that will destroy us.  We either kill it, or it kills us. The old word for kill was "mortify", as in dealing it a mortal wound.  Here are two passages from the King James Version of the Bible that talk about this kind of mortification.  It basically means to quit doing sinful things.

Romans 8:13
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Colossians 3:5
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Okay, so here goes.  I think he wrote the book backwards. I mean, I think that the best part is at the end. If a person does not make it to the end of his little book because of despair over their sinfulness, then that is a shame. So if you read it, read the last chapter first, then the penultimate chapter, then go to the beginning and read the whole book.  I wish I'd done it that way.

Here is the outline of the last chapter. The idea of mortifying sin has to do with killing sin in our lives. That is, we quit sinning.  You may say that you are tired of people telling you what to do and what not to do. I have to say that I am, too.

So, killing sin is different from being told by people what you can and cannot do.  Often people are telling you to stop things that aren't even sinful. Often people prohibit things that in and of themselves are not sin.  Often people believe themselves to be the Holy Spirit in your life.

 Notice how the Spirit works.  He works from the inside out, convincing us not only of the evil and guilt of our sin, but of its dangers. Also, the Spirit leads us to the One that can give us relief - Jesus Christ.

So, read about the work of the Spirit in the heart of the believer. Avoid those who wish to play Holy Spirit in your life. Avoid those who promise that if you submit to them, then you will have relief.  There are a lot of people like that out there.

Run from them!

Also, avoid those  who would tell you that there is no such thing as sin, so do whatever you want to do. There are no consequences. It's all good.

Run from them as well!

Run to God and fine grace to help in time of need.

Here is the outline of chapter 14 of John Owen's work.  The book can be found online in several places. I own a hard copy of the book - it is only about 100 pages long.  I also own an iTunes download of it.

Here he shows, with Scriptural support, that a person does not have to do this all on his or her own.  The sweet Holy Spirit of God does this work in us as we co-operate with Him.  Of course we are not passive observers in the process that is called sanctification. God has given us means that we can use - such as prayer, church attendance, confession of sin, singing, worship, praise, making better choices, and even all kinds of positive activities to replace the old habits that lead to death.

Remember that this whole work of mortifying sin is effected, carried on, accomplished by the power of the Spirit, in all its parts and degrees. 

a. The Spirit alone convinces the heart of the evil and guilt and danger of the sin to be mortified. And this is the first thing the Spirit does in order to move us to mortification: convince our soul of the evil of it. 

b. The Spirit alone reveals to us the fullness of Christ for our relief (1 Cor 2:8). 

c. The Spirit alone establishes an expectation of relief from Christ (2 Cor 1:21). 

d. The Spirit alone brings the cross of Christ into our hearts with its sin-killing power; for by the Spirit we are baptized into the death of Christ. 

e. The Spirit alone is the author and finisher of our sanctification; He gives us grace to strive for holiness. 

f. The Spirit supports and empowers our appeals to God (Romans 8:26). 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Glory - 4

Genesis 1:1-5

Genesis 1

The Creation of the World

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Technically I guess this is not the first manifestation of God's glory, but maybe it is the first. 

God's Spirit is present, hovering over the face of the waters.

The word "kabod" or "glory" when used of God has to do with His abiding presence.  His glory has to do with His great great and weighty reputation and importance.

Light is shiny, as is the Shekinah glory of God.  Hmm.

So, since this post contains my thinking on the subject of "glory", I 'm going to say that this is the Bible's first mention of God's glory.  The problem is that the word "glory" is not in the text, but the concept is certainly there.

God's Word begins with the light of His glory shown on the face of the deep.

No, light is not God, but it is used over and over again as a symbol of God's work and presence.  Since God is spirit, having no physical body, He both creates and then uses physical things to show us what He is like.

This statement is true.:

1 John 1:5

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

In the context of 1 John 1, the Apostle is talking about God's sinless moral character.  It is about His holiness in contrast to our sinfulness.  Darkness is used as a symbol of sin, and light as a symbol of sinlessness. 

Some are tempted to turn the phrase "God is light"  around, but that is not correct grammatically in the Greek.  

Some also try to turn around the phrase "God is love", saying that "Love is God" in the same way.  That was a popular interpretation of the Hippies, as you can well imagine.  One of God's attributes is love, as in He is loving.  We dare not deify love itself, as many pagan religions do.

1 John 4:8

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The first verses of the Bible found in Genesis 1  remind me of 2 Corinthians 4:6.  This verse supports the idea that the Bible begins with a manifestation of the glory of God.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

"We have here a further account of the first day’s work, in which observe, 1. That the first of all visible beings which God created was light; not that by it he himself might see to work (for the darkness and light are both alike to him), but that by it we might see his works and his glory in them, and might work our works while it is day. "

I love this Matthew Henry quote as well.:

"This was not only the first day of the world, but the first day of the week. I observe it to the honour of that day, because the new world began on the first day of the week likewise, in the resurrection of Christ, as the light of the world, early in the morning. In him the day-spring from on high has visited the world; and happy are we, for ever happy, if that day-star arise in our hearts."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Glory - 3

Okay, this is pretty complex, since God's glory has to do with His abiding presence as well as His fame, importance, and reputation. The word "Shekinah" is added to the word "glory" when it means God's presence, or God's manifest presence.  The term "Shekinah Glory" does not appear in the Bible, but the concept does.  I'll talk about that later.

There are some groups who want to see the Shekinah Glory as it appeared in Old Testament times.  They go through  weird rituals to try to get the Shekinah to appear.  I think that is very odd, and very occultic.  Nowhere in the Bible are we told to seek such an outward manifestation of God's presence.  We are to seek Him spiritually from the heart.

So, I am not trying to encourage people to look for strange manifestations.  My idea is to try to show, in my own inadequate way, how the Shekinah Glory of the Old Testament is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ, who is Emmanuel, God with us.  Also, Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit.   Therefore, we should not destroy that temple, but should glorify God with our bodies. Here is the entry from the Reformation Study Bible about that.

"3:16 God’s temple. God signified His presence in the temple by filling it with the cloud of His glory (1 Kin. 8:10,11). Now He lives in His people by filling them with the Holy Spirit. Paul’s focus here is on God’s people as a corporate whole; in 6:19 the emphasis shifts to the individual Christian’s body."

That is generally understood to mean that all we do, say, and think should be governed by God.  We are supposed to live to glorify God and show His presence in our lives by how we conduct ourselves in the world.

More later, but here are some Scriptures I'm thinking about in relation to God's abiding presence.

Matthew 1

The Birth of Jesus Christ

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ[e] took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed[f] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwillingto put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
cf. Isaiah 7:14

I Corinthians 3:16-17
16 Do you not know that you[a] are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

English Standard Version (ESV)
18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin[a] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Glory - 2

A couple of months ago I went to Bible Gateway to search for passages with the word "glory" in them. I was preparing some power points for a conference I was participating in.  It was pretty amazing, since there are hundreds of verses containing that word.

I am no scholar, of course, so it will be clear that I am not trying to write a treatise on the subject of "glory" in the Bible. This is for devotional purposes, please understand.  I try to stay within orthodox Evangelicalism in what I say, but please forgive any mistakes of grammar, interpretation, or anything else that might be not quite right.

So, I looked at different passages to get a feel for how the word "glory" was being used.  Then I looked at a couple of dictionaries in Hebrew and in Greek.  I have never studied Hebrew.  Greek is somewhat more familiar to me.

I found that the Hebrew word is transliterated into English as kabod or kavod.  That's pretty simple. So far, so good.  Here is some of what I found out about the usage of that word in the Old Testament.

It was used for shiny things.

It was used for weighty things.  Then, figuratively as people  who were weighty in their importance - either an individual or a nation that deserved honor.  "Heavy" or "weighty" is evidently the most basic meaning of the word.  I am not sure of the etymology of the word "kabod", but I read something - that I can't find now - that gave me the impression that the first part of the word was an actual measure of the weight of something.
 Not sure.

It was used for glory in battle.

So, I like this photo of some ancient Canaanite swords. If I understand the usage correctly, these things had kabod!

It was used for the glory of God, especially at specific times in Israel's history when God manifested His presence in a cloud of glory.  This was especially meaningful to the children of Israel after they escaped from Egypt and God used the glory cloud to guide them.  Thus, God's glory is associated with His abiding presence.

God's glory was manifested, too, as judgment against sin, as well as salvation.

"Kabod" was used in reference to human beings who were famous and important.

"Kabod" was used in reference to famous or important nations as well.

So, honor and fame are also meanings of the word, depending on the context of the passage.

Below you will find links to some reference material in case anyone would like to research the meaning of the word "kabod."

Great entry.:  Holman Bible Dictionary.
Not so great, but helpful, I guess.  The format is awkward. : Strong's Hebrew

Simple and sweet: Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings - The author emphasized that "kabod", as in God's glory,  was something that could be seen.  I guess that should go without saying.  

Do what I did and enter the word "glory" into the search feature at Bible Gateway