Seminary Smatterings #1: Sausage, Silver, and Sovereign

There is a local butcher in town who has THE BEST breakfast sausage I have ever had.

The. Best.

We get a pound of it pretty much every week, and I pound out my own patties (a process that makes it that much more satisfying), and we enjoy taste-bud bliss for a couple of mornings.

And so I’m telling people about it all the time! My wife and I are telling people about the best-kept secret in Louisville, Kingsley’s Breakfast Sausage (if you’re in Louisville, go support this local family business; you won’t regret it).

But we tell people about it because we feel like they are missing out on something great.

Well, never does a week go by where I sit and class and don’t think, “People need to hear this!” Reading, studying, discussing, these things lead to deep connections being made in the Scripture and I come across things all the time that people need to know. I wish I had time for all the conversations I wish I could have.

So this is the first post in a series I will call, “Seminary Smatterings.” There won’t necessarily be consistency from week to week, but I just want to share some thoughts or lessons that have seemed profound.

From my Isaiah class:

We’re only in chapter one, but already there are a TON of things jumping off the page. I won’t go into all of them, but Isaiah 1 says some interesting things about Silver. In fact, God compares the Isrealites to Silver that has become “dross.” When a silversmith is working with silver, there is a refining process. Over and over, the smith heats the silver up to a liquid, and all the impurities—the dross—float to the top, where the Smith scrapes them off and repeats the process. And repeats.

Until he can see his reflection in the silver.

In Isaiah 1, God is stating his case against Israel: they have turned away from him and forgotten to properly honor him for all he has blessed them with. Worst of all, they have turned the means by which God graciously gave them a way to reconcile with him despite sin—the very essence of their worship practices—into mere lip service. Their hearts were not repentant of their sin, nor did they have any intention of turning to him.

Thus, their “silver has become dross” (Isa 1:22).

But wait, the end of chapter one (and remember, this sets the tone for all the book), God makes clear that he will redeem the faithful. And what image does he use?

25 “I will turn my hand against you
and will smelt away your dross as with lye
and remove all your alloy.
26 And I will restore your judges as at the first,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,
the faithful city.”

God tells Israel he’s going to turn up the fire. Let persecution come. Let hard times knock us down. Allow struggle. Ordain strife. And he allows that to bring out the impurities. He does it so that the faithful will remain.

And they will reflect his own face.

Be faithful, the fires are not meant for you, but for the impure, to reveal the faithful people of God.

From “Life and Teachings of Jesus”

Just a thought that was posed on day one that I found provocative (but possibly accurate—still thinking through this). What if Jesus’ whole ministry really could be summed up by his first pastoral sentence: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). What if that is simply his message.

What if “the Kingdom of God is at hand,” is not primarily about the end times, or about Heaven, per se, but a statement of fact? Said another way, what if the statement was, “God is King. Therefore, in light of this fact, repent (for it is the only proper way to come before a king). And believe in the Gospel for your salvation, for your membership in this Kingdom.” 

What if the “Kingdom of God” is the kingdom where people actually live as if God were their king? Bowing to his authority, submitting where his decrees bristle against our will? Giving him glory and honor? Trusting him to provide based on the fundamentals of his economy, his social order, his reign and his ability to fight his own battles?

What if we came before him with our hat in our hands, pleading for mercy because we don’t deserve communion with him, because that is how you come before a king, rather than “waltzing in, handing him the resume we’ve built up and telling him how glad he should be to have us on his team. That’s not how you act in the presence of a King!” (this was a paraphrase from my professor, regarding the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18). What if repentance has much more to do with giving up the notion that our lives are our own, and less to do with apologizing for each individual mistake we make? 

The point is, what if we are being called to give far more to be a Christian than we’d previously considered? What if God really is King, and we treat him like he is our “co-pilot” or “homeboy?”

What if we really do need to Repent? What if the Kingdom of God really IS at hand?

Just some thoughts. I’m sure I’ll have more next week!

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Complexity Can’t Always Be Explained

Albert Einstein was one of the world's greatest thinkers, and the more he learned, the more he (evidently) understood that copmlexity can't be easily discounted.

Albert Einstein was one of the world’s greatest thinkers, and the more he learned, the more he (evidently) understood that complexity can’t be easily discounted.

Every day, thousands of scientific discoveries are being made that help us to understand how our world works. But it will never answer why we see so much order, or why we are even able to observe patterns, laws and rules. Order comes from order. Chaos never results in order. Einstein understood that. Do you?

Do you think that the world’s order is proof of intelligent design?

Weekend Roundup

  • In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is a fantastic piece on what dialogue on tough issues looks like.
  • I don’t understand the Zombie obsession.
  • In the wake of a great Super Bowl, let’s remember that athletes are not role models.
  • As a communicator I try to keep this in mind. As a person it rings true as well.
  • “Prayer in an unhealthy congregation is often a response of desperation rather than a marker of the DNA of the church.” Thom Rainer makes som great observations about what commonly plagues churches.
  • I’m a big fan of This American Life. This week’s podcast on kids’ logic was particularly well done.
  • Pretty cool use of the iPhone Reminders app as a prayer list.

Weekend Roundup

WeekendRoundup

I’ve been a little light on posts this week, as “ChurchPastor” responsibilities have trumped “ChurchlessPastor” writing. But here are a few things I have found of interest around the web that should make for interesting reading this weekend!

  • Interesting read on the Inauguration Bibles.
  • Great observations about the church “Back Door” from Thom Rainer.
  • Great resource for churches wanting better recording options outside the Auditorium. Technology is SWEET!
  • Tongue-in-cheek alert: Internet users ask for less interactivity on websites. Made me wonder, at least, if we (especially churches) are being intentional about what we include on our websites, or if we are just including things because everyone else is.
  • 3 Things I Wish I Knew Before Getting Married.
  • If you don’t know about Noisetrade, it’s awesome. Check it out. While you’re at it, check out Dustin Ruth, whose EP is amazing and available for FREE DOWNLOAD (don’t forget to tip)!
  • This strikes me as silly. This isn’t an article about Christians in politics, but can we (the Church) please keep the main thing the main thing? Pray for the President. Be involved in politics. But first and foremost be a light to those around you.
  • One of my favorite iPhone apps is making a splash. AND it’s only $0.99 for a “very limited time.
  • Stop pretending to Love Jesus
  • Can’t wait to try THIS.

What are your reactions to the links above?

Weekend Quick Hits

Here are some interesting reads for you to consider over the weekend!

See you on the other side of the weekend!