Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How Are We To Live? Part-1

How Are We To Live? Part-1 (Introduction & Creation)

As we begin our entrance into another year as image-bearers, I’d like to consider the motivation we employ in living our day-to-day lives. Whether “Christian” or not, every human being is, by God’s definition, an “image-bearer” and therefore obligated before God to live in a certain way. Though every Christian would agree with the general principle that we all (Christian and non-Christian) are to live our lives to the glory of God, exactly how are we to accomplish this goal? Is the “Law of God” our motivation? Or is our motivation the consideration of the popular refrain, “What Would Jesus Do”? Or could it be a re-conception of the WWJD idea into, “What Would I Do” or “What Would You Do”? Exactly how does a person purpose to “live to the glory of God”? And is the how any different for the unbeliever than for the Christian? To be sure, only the Christian can live in this way; but is that to say that the Christian’s call to do so is based on radically different criteria? In other words, is the basis for the Christian’s call on his life any different than the basis for the unbeliever’s call on his life?

What is God’s call on our life? Whether you’re a Christian or not, God’s call for every human being is to “be perfect” as He is perfect. This is the fundamental requirement that God lays upon all of us. The fact that no person can answer that call in and of himself does not negate the call, though it does result in another call on our lives—the call to faith in Him, or more specifically, faith in Jesus Christ. And the first call isn’t superseded by the second call. All human beings are required to be perfect as God is perfect and, subsequently, because of our inability to accomplish the first call, we’re all called to faith in Jesus Christ. Without debating aspects of the “eternal decree”, generally speaking Christians agree that the Bible asserts both calls on all people, everywhere. The question is: What is the relationship (if any) between the calling to “be perfect” and the calling to faith in Christ? And if there is a relationship between the two, how are either of these callings (or both of them) understood in the life of a human being, whether the Christian or the non-Christian?

(When I use the masculine “his” or “him”, or even the term “man” in referring to a human being, I’m doing so for ease of use and clarity: “And God created “man” in His own image, in the image of God He created him [man]; male and female He created them [man].” Man, therefore, refers to human beings, whether male or female.)

We must first understand what it means to be “perfect”. If we look at Adam, we can easily see how both callings of God are implicated in the life of a human being. God created all things “good”; and with the completion of His creation in His “image-son” (man), He proclaimed His work “very good”. Biblically, we can speak of perfection in the created order in two senses: perfection before The Fall and perfection in the Redemptive State. There is a sense in which the Scripture speaks of Creation before the fall as “perfect”. In Eden, we see the Shalomic perfection that typifies the consummative state in the New Creation. In Eden, all is as it should be (though not what it will be): Shalom reigns as all of God’s creation exists in harmony and fullness of being. We can understand the perfection of creation as the authenticity of every created thing being fully what it was created to be, existing in this world fully aware, so-to-speak, of its created function and therefore relating with integrity, in truth to every other created thing and to the Creator Himself. And on the seventh day, God rested; all of Creation was to follow Man (Adam and Eve) into the eternal Shabbat of God’s Rest. The creation was “perfect” for its purpose. The perfection of man, specifically, was his authentic humanness as image-bearer; his calling to be perfect was the calling for him to live his life as he was created to be—an authentic human being, God’s “image-son”.

Like Adam, the call on our lives now as human beings created in the image of God is to be what we were created to be--authentic human beings who bear the image of God! To be perfect as God is perfect is for us to be fully conformed to our (created) nature. This is not something that we're called to do but something that we're called to be. God's perfection lies in the fact that He is who He is--always! Like Adam, we're called to be "perfect as God is perfect", which is to say, we're called to be who we are as image-sons--always! As a type of Christ (as Christ is the "last Adam", He is the true Man, the fountainhead of a new humanity), Adam's created "perfection" was his authentic humanity.

But then…

(to be continued...)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Great Googly Moogly (throughout the years) wishes you a Merry Christmas

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Merry Christmas!

When we say or simply consider these words, it seems that the focus (at least for Christians) is the Babe in the manger. We think mainly (or only, sometimes) of the story of the Birth of Christ. Our minds are filled with visions of shepherds and angels, wise men and stars (or, more precisely, the star), the virgin birth and the power of the Spirit; we think of prophecies both old (Isaiah, Micah & Malachi, etc.) and new (Gabriel, Zacharias & Simeon) and the magnificent Magnificant of Mary; we consider the wonder of God coming in the flesh, of Emmanuel--God With Us! Our Christmas celebration abounds with the joy of the Good News that Christ has been born!

And there's nothing wrong with this. We should be filled with joy and wonderment, even a sense of awe and astonishment when we consider the story of the Birth of Christ. In Christ, God really has come in the flesh. And, we rightly understand and proclaim, He came in order to secure our redemption. But it seems that our Christmas celebration begins and ends, more often than not, only with the story of the Birth of Christ with little regard to the full meaning & purpose of His coming. Sure, we acknowledge in our conversation and even in our cards (when we can find them) the fact that Jesus was born in order to save us from our sin, that He came for our redemption. But do we acknowledge and proclaim (or even understand) that His birth is really the beginning of the fulfillment of all the Scripture; that in the birth of Christ the purpose of God for His entire Created Order is in process of being fulfilled?

The "Christmas Story" is really the story of the whole Bible. From the very beginning of Redemptive History (and even prior, but that's another post!), when God promised a "Seed" to the woman, the trajectory of the entirety of the Scripture was pointed to the coming of Christ. The Seed of the Woman who was promised to come is the One who will crush the serpent's head, reverse the curse and recover Sacred Space (see previous posts) ushering in the New Creation--the New Creation that is already upon us in the Kingdom of God of which we're a part of now, and the New Creation that will be consummated in the redemption of the entire Created Order upon Christ's return. This is the One who will redeem not only God's people, but the entire Created Order; and not simply to its original Shalomic state before The Fall, but to its consummate Shalomic state--the state of Creation that Eden only typified in its non-exhaustive or non-consummate perfection. The coming of Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament and means that we're in the "Last Days". The Birth of Christ means that God's purpose to set things right will be fulfilled; God will "sum up all things in Him (His Son). The Christmas Story is really the story that is told from Genesis to Revelation; it's the story of Redemption from beginning to consummation! The Birth of Christ is simply one aspect to the Christmas Story (though, obviously, a crucial aspect)!

As I've suggested in other places, the purpose of the Old Testament is simply to paint the portrait of Christ--who He is & what He is to accomplish. Since God's purpose in redemptive history is to redeem His creation and recover and consummate what was lost in The Fall, and since He does so by "summing up all things in Christ", then every idea, concept, event, situation, people group, etc., (including "the Law"), that contributes to His purpose adds brush-strokes, so-to-speak, to the portrait of Christ. There is nothing in the Old Testament that falls outside of the purpose of God in Christ. That being the case, when we celebrate Christmas, we're celebrating the accomplishment of the purpose of God--to redeem His creation! We can't just begin and end our celebration with the Babe in the Manger; we need to celebrate the New Creation that has come in & through the Babe in the Manger who is also the Man on the Cross who is also the King on His throne! We're celebrating Communion this Sunday and this is every bit a part of the Christmas Story as is the Birth of Christ. And that's because the Christmas Story doesn't begin and end with the Birth of Christ--it begins at Creation and ends at Consummation!

Our Christmas celebration is the celebration of Jesus Christ and the meaning of His birth. Do we celebrate Him in His fullness? Do we celebrate Him in the full knowledge of who He is & what He came to do? Everything in the Old Testament contributes to painting His portrait. Jesus Christ is the promised Seed of the Woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of David; He's the true "Israel", Servant, Disciple and Witness. He's the Messiah, King, High Priest and Lamb. He's the Prophet, the Prince of Peace, Mighty God and Eternal Father. He's the true "Chosen One", the Man of the Spirit, the true Son of God. He really is Emmanuel--God With Us! And He's come in fulfillment of the Scripture to recover and restore God's good creation! This is Christmas! This is what we celebrate at this time of year and always!

Friday, December 19, 2008

SGCC Leadership Enjoying the Season

This is what our leadership does during the "Leadership meetings"--Sshhh, don't tell them I witnessed this insanity!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Album

This being the "season" and all...

I just received my copy of Kemper Crabb's Christmas CD and DVD. I've been waiting for this for a very long time. He had made a video of his Christmas show last year or the year before but as far as I know he never released it. If you check out his website, you can watch clips of that video. I assume that video corresponds with his "Medieval Christmas" CD. The CD that I got was "Downe in Yon Forrest: Christmas From the Middle Ages" and the DVD is different than the video clips on his site. I don't know if he scrapped the idea of putting the first show on DVD or not, but, as you can see, I've been trying to get that (or any) video of the Christmas show that he puts on.

The "Downe in Yon Forrest" show and CD has a very similar set-list and style as the "Medieval Christmas" show, but the arrangements are more intricate on the one they finally released on DVD. The selections that I've uploaded give you a taste of the quality and beauty of Kemper's music. This is my absolute favorite Christmas CD. I hope he makes another one with different titles next year.

My favorite song on this CD is, "Of the Father's Love Begotten". This arrangement is the best I've ever heard. In fact, I would say that this is my all-time favorite song on my all-time favorite Christmas CD. Listen to it closely. You'll notice that Frank Hart's cello solo in the middle is "Joy to the World". It is very subtle, yet powerful--as if it was always supposed to be there! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Garage Band is Killing Me

I'll be posting again soon. I've been busy working, preparing for Sundays, commenting on other blogs, and trying to learn Garage Band on my Mac. I'm not complaining; I've been enjoying all of this "busyness"...except Garage Band! I really want to learn it, but I'm not progressing very quickly. I've got a new keyboard now; a Casio that has a USB connection, so I'm finally able to "talk" with the program. That's a start. Now I need to configure a few things on the keyboard and get Mrs. Moogly to start playing some songs into Garage Band.

My purpose in this is to have Mrs. Moogly play a lot of songs into Garage Band so that I can pull out my bass and "practice with her" anytime I want. As most of you know, I often "lead" the worship service at church; but I also enjoy playing with my wife on occasion. The problem is that I don't have time to practice with her enough to feel competent enough to play on Sundays. Besides, she gets really tired of practicing with me because I tend to have her play the same song over and over and over...until I get it down. With Garage Band, I can play any song (and any part of a song) as often as I like whenever I like. This way, I can "practice" with her all the time and end up having a fairly large repertoire in my back pocket for playing on Sundays. I have it all figured out--except how to use the program! Soon....

Anyway, that's where I've been the last couple of week. I plan on posting some on our Christian "ethic". The popular refrain "What Would Jesus Do", with its accompanying bracelets, necklaces, t-shirts, ad nausea is really a crutch, at best, and another conduit to "law-keeping", at worst. The principle of WWJD should be changed to WWID--What Would I Do. Jesus is not our exemplar; He is the source of our LIFE. He is our example only in the sense that He shows us what a "son" of God looks like in relation to his Father. We don't look to Jesus and try to decide what He would do in a certain situation; we look to Jesus to see how it is that a son lives in relation to his father. And in that way, we then respond in the situations of life as He did--by faith, out of love and respect for our Father.

I'll expand on this line of thought soon. But for now, just begin thinking about how you normally think to respond in certain situations. Do you have to consider the "law"? Do you have to think about how Jesus would respond? Or do you realize that you are a child of God who possesses "everything pertaining to live and godliness" and who responds accordingly? Our lives are to be lived "naturally" as children of God--not out of compulsion.

Think about it and be ready to interact in the coming posts.

In the meantime...Garage Band is calling me..."MEH" (just for you, Abster!).