Oct 3, 2008

I thought I would try again… [this one has been cooking for over a year… and it is still incompete…]

 

I start these and feel (as I have mentioned before/often) that they are drivel, and susceptible to misinterpretation because of their brevity and vagueness (ah, I just realized I have discovered a new excuse for long-windedness and verbosity: pursuit of ‘precision’—oh, this is great…smile).

 

But, as always, I will take a running start and see what the Lord gives… maybe He will get some of you readers to misinterpret these points along the direction of something REALLY useful or truthful for you—so the entire enterprise becomes worthwhile… (“Glenn said it for ‘garrulosity’, but God meant it for good…”, paraphrase of the Joseph story, obviously)…

 

Some of these are just self-examination points, of course, but they should be asked of ourselves occasionally anyway.

 

 

 

…………………..

 

 

 

4L’s

 

Over the past 35 years, as our Lord has shared His heart and His perspective with me, certain description-phrases of God have impressed themselves upon me. The “God of warmth and color and music” was an early one; and the ‘good-hearted God’ has been dominant for the last several years.

 

But over the last 18months or so, I have been using this phrase to communicate--to myself and others—certain key aspects of our God: “The living, loving, laughing, and lamenting God”.

 

Living. The living God is one of the more striking phrases in the bible to me. I always notice it when reading, because the implications are so staggering and awesome. A God who is alive--Who has the truest form of, the most intense ‘version’ of, the only uncompromised quality of, and the uniquely impossibly-irrepressible instance of what we call ‘life’. 

 

I see life all around me: teeming, expanding, healing, adapting, initiating, innovating, creating new/more life, organizing, balancing, interacting, preserving, sustaining, and outrunning death and decay.

 

And even when we use this to describe humans, it is telling: “She really is a live one!”, “He is so full of life”, “they are so lively”… and other versions such as ‘vivacious’ and ‘full of vitality’…

 

When you enter a park, where many living things are, you know you are sharing the space with them. When you enter a room in which a living person is (as opposed to a deceased one, at a funeral, for example), you know there are implicit limits and responsibilities created by their presence. You know you are ‘at risk’ of being interacted with, by another agent essentially like yourself. You know you are not alone—the space is shared—and the possibilities of communication, cooperation, and conflict are very real. There is another ‘presence’ in this space.

 

When I try to map these various nuances of ‘life’ onto God, what emerges in my mind is a much closer, much more real, and much more ‘awaiting interaction’ Person. God seems less ‘cut and dried’ and more ‘brimming with possibilities’.

 

The Hebrew prophets constantly derided the idols of their neighbors (and of themselves!) as being lifeless, ‘unable to do either good or bad’. A False god was false because it was a ‘religious concept’ only—useless for anything practical, unable to interrupt our lives, impotent for helping with the real problems they/we face. The biblical God is alive—in all that word is supposed to mean—with life of purest quality and maximum robustness and commanding (and often, comforting) presence. And He shares this life with us, and teaches us how to experience more of it… “I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10.10).

 

Loving. It is a commonplace to quote I John 4:8 “God is love”, but I often wonder if ‘traditional Christians’ know how odd this really is, in the history of religions. As I read more and more in the religious texts of Islam, later Judaism, and extremist groups in Christianity, I am always surprised again when I return to reading the Bible. The consistent emphasis on God’s love (and not just His ‘mercy’ and ‘authority’ and even ‘salvation’) and the consequent command to love ‘one another’ is without parallel outside that text.

 

I can find statements about God’s love in other texts, to be sure, but the sheer ‘density’ of love-type-terms in the Bible—and especially the post-Pentecost New Testament epistles—is almost bizarre. I have pointed out elsewhere (and I made this point in the Middle-Platonism piece repeatedly) that this concept-complex of God’s love for humans and His requirement for us to love one another was quite counter-culture and very unexpected in NT times.

 

And even in the Hebrew Bible, in which statements of God’s love are often in covenantal forms, there is still a steady thread of passages describing God’s heart in the matter. And the uniqueness of God’s drawing the nation of slaves Israel to Himself is highlighted: What God ever took a people for Himself out of another nation? (Deut 4.34).

 

And, as with the word ‘life’, I have to de-derivative-ize it. His love is the original love (from which all others are derived, copied, measured by), purest, most energetic, most consistent, most unwavering, least affected by our anti-love actions, both quietest and loudest of all loves(!), and the safest of all loves. In His love, we can relax, breathe easy, be ourselves, open the scariest and ugliest parts of our lives to Him. We can draw strength, calm, a sense of companionship from Him. We can be challenged to respond—not in thanks, nor in worship (those are for other aspects of His life-toward-us)—but in love-as-response-to-love, in love-bursting-from-the-heart-of-the-loved…

 

His love challenges all our lesser notions of love…

 

Laughing and Lamenting. The ‘theory’ behind this is easy: we, who are commanded to be Christ-like and God-like, are instructed to ‘weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice’. And for scriptural evidence, we know God authored the various Lament passages in the Hebrew Bible (e.g. Lamentations, various lamentations over the judgments on the various neighbors of Israel, and even over the discipline inflicted on Israel). ‘Grief’ is ascribed to His Spirit in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. The only explicit ‘laughter’ verses, however, are the wrong kind of laughter—laughter in derision at the arrogance of the enemies of God (e.g. Ps 2). But there are many ‘rejoicing’ passages—which at least would have ‘vigorous smiles’ (smile): Zeph 3.17b is my favorite (He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy), and the rejoicing in Heaven over the recovered sheep (Luke 15.7par) would not have excluded God!

 

So, I think the fact of this is clearly true. But –and maybe it’s a Western thing again—it is easier to think of God weeping with us in solidarity, than it is to ‘visualize’ (?) Him laughing. Perhaps our notion of Holiness (i.e., being different from us/creation) suggests to us more images of ‘sobriety’ and ‘somberness’ and ‘sensory deprivation’ and ‘asceticism’. But a reminder that God is more alive than we are, might suggest the opposite—that He laughs more often, harder and louder, and is more easily ‘incited’ to laughter. We know that joy is a big thing to Him—it is a fruit of the Spirit and one of our chief defenses against the numbness which the world/death infects us with through daily osmosis. I find it unreasonable to believe that the author of boundless and eternal and pervasive joy doesn’t laugh and sing (and maybe even dance—depending on your translation of Zeph 3.17… smile) Himself.

 

As I have pointed out often, His heart is not clouded or dulled by sin, and would be—theologically—more able to experience fullness of joy and of grief.

 

On a ‘mystical’ or ‘experiential’ level, I have known this. I have ‘sensed’ His weeping over my pain, loss, grief—and His weeping with me on the mourner’s bench.  But I have also sensed His joy at times (like in Chariots of Fire: “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His good pleasure”), and have experienced His use of humor in His gentle dealings with me [described later in this Letter].

 

I honestly expect His laughter to be the loudest and His smiles to be the brightest and His ‘grins’ to be the biggest in the New Future. [It’s a little like Chesterton’s memorable phrase about God’s boundless energy and expansive life: “God is younger than us, and it is we who have grown old”]

 

So, that’s one description of only four aspects of our great God: living, loving, laughing and lamenting.

 

 

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John – apostle of love versus Revelation

 

One of the puzzles of the NT to me is the in-our-face difference in tone between two of the Johanine works: Revelation and 1 John. Assuming that the apostle John wrote both—the view I hold—the contrast has always puzzled me.

 

The reason for my befuddlement is simple. John started out as a ‘son of thunder’, wanting to call down fire in judgment on the Samaritans. His life was changed by the ministry of Jesus and the post-Pentecost ministry of the Holy Spirit—and he became the ‘apostle of love’. Just as Peter was mellowed into beautiful gentleness and patience by the Spirit (cf. the gospels versus Acts and 1 Peter), so John was transformed into the person of I John.

 

But when I turn to Revelation, I am overwhelmed by the violent, traumatic, and terrifying images and vocabulary. [Of course, that is how I am SUPPOSED to respond—the whole point of that imagery is to get me to take the inevitability of final judgment (however long the patience of God delays that), the criticality of ethics (even for the beloved lovers of God), the stubbornness of my human nature, and the derivative and insubstantial nature of this age/world seriously. I have all but given up trying to mine the cognitive content from most of those images, and have rather submitted myself to their intense metaphorical and symbolic power.]

 

Now we know that Revelation is a virtual pastiche of OT prophetic and apocalyptic passages, so it is not actually ‘odd’ in the biblical register. It just seems a little ‘odd’ to me, in the Johanine register (i.e. the Gospel of John, and epistles 1,2,3 John). There is so much about love in his gospel and his epistles, and almost nothing about the end-time judgments. Gone from the Gospel are the Woe-passages (mostly) and even the Olivet Discourse and/or Little Apocalypse are absent. John 3.16 is followed by John 3.18—to be sure—but the proportion of patience-to-judgment verses seems different to me.

 

And maybe that’s the issue—I realized. In the OT literary prophets, the judgment passages are mixed in with patience/nurturing passages, with the judgment/warning passages being slightly larger in volume than the patience/nurturing/calling passages. One can see this in most of the OT writing prophets, with several, though, being mostly judgment (e.g Hab).

 

So, if I were to take Hosea or Isaiah, for examples, and divide each into two books (one of judgment/warning passages and one of calling/comforting/patience/nurturing passages), I might get the same pattern I see in the Johanine NT writings.

 

At a rather imprecise level, I see that Revelation has about 18ish chapters of judgment and a couple of chapters of ‘regular’ content. The Gospel of John has the opposite mix—20ish chapters of patience/nurturing/instruction and maybe enough judgment-type passages to fill out two or three chapters. First John has 5 chapters of ‘extreme love’ (should we count this as 8-10, since the ‘density’ of love passages is so high?), and 2nd and 3rd John are ‘neutral’.

 

This rough ‘calculation’ would suggest that John is not radically different than the OT prophetic materials—containing a mix—but also that the balance has been ‘tipped’ to ‘more love than judgment’. [Although, we might should weight the terrifying imagery in Revelation higher than normal—like we did the love passages in 1 John—but we should note that those images are not original with John. One has only to compare some of his imagery with Joel, with Habakkuk, with Daniel, and with Ezekiel to see that our ‘extra’ weighting might be unwarranted.]

 

So I arrive at the conclusion that the apparent disparity between the Apocalypse of John and the Gospel/Epistles of John is only apparent—except that John might be more ‘love bearing’ than would be expected. And this does confirm the power of the transforming love of Christ in his life…

 

Would that I and all of us would be more and more transformed by the ministry of the Risen Lord, operating through the indwelling Spirit of the Living and Loving God.

 

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Pleasing to God!

 

This has got to be one of the most amazing (and to me—staggering) phrases in the Bible.

 

The thread of ‘pleasing God’ shows up throughout the scripture. The most memorable to me is Paul’s injunction to ‘learn what pleases God’ in Eph 5.10.

 

There are two ‘concepts’ that combine to create this staggering impression on me: the ‘size’ of God, and the personal—almost intimate—nature of something ‘pleasing’.

 

Over the decades, as God gets ‘bigger’ in my estimation (chuckle) and theological understanding (dim and infantile as it no doubt is), He doesn’t seem to get ‘farther away’ in the process. Everything ELSE recedes, though—sorta like those film effects in the movies, where the camera zooms in a person (center-frame) while the background behind them recedes. God increasingly ‘fills the frame’ of my perceptive life, and I am the richer for it. The terror that mortals normally have in the presence of the Tremendous One seems to evade me, no doubt because of my experience of His unfathomable gentleness and graciousness. It should be there—I am a mortal—and there are times (typically in music or worship) where it perhaps surfaces in my experience of His intensity.

 

But as He grows ‘bigger’ in my vision, all the elements that are part of His life are also enlarged to the same degree. His kindness begins to be more and more ‘immense’; His passion for social justice begins to appear more and more formidable; His ‘listening’ to my ‘little’ (but truly ‘life-size’ to me!) requests and thanks and pleadings is transformed more and more into something so munificent (without becoming condescending or patronizing or trivializing).

 

And that brings me to the next concept in the pair: the personal nature of something ‘pleasing’. I know what pleasure is—that of hugs by my daughters, by father’s day cards by my incredible sons, by being borne aloft by the Spirit of God via a piece of magical music, the smell of honeysuckle, the taste of caramel, the sense of eureka in study, the cry/sigh of relief by a soul-just-helped. I know how intense the feeling of pleasure is when I see beauty in the lives of my kids. I know the deep satisfaction of pleasure from a poem, or song, or essay. I know the pleasure of the sensuality in the divinely-created nature.

 

When I am able to please another person in someway—by word or deed—I am always touched by how such a thing can ocurr. But I am not ‘staggered’ thereby. But when I inject this great God into that, the dimensions of the act are expanded beyond my puny comprehension. To cause the Beyond-All God-person to be pleased?! To experience some version of what I feel when an encouraging email touches my heart?! To experience some version of what I feel when I am overjoyed at growth and depth in the lives of my precious kids?!

 

This imparts a significance to my life-actions that seems so out of proportion to who/what I am… and this itself raises a sobering—but ultimately warming—concept: that this Great God can be pleased with even the tiniest acts of my life. A simple-but-contagious smile to a cashier, a choice to ‘not go there’ in my thought life, an act of generosity done with no one looking but Him, a moment of uncharacteristic wisdom to avoid some morally dangerous situation, stopping to share a sunset with God, reflection on the beauty of a friend’s character… the tiniest nuances and gestures and dances of life—bringing a quiet smile to the heart of the Limitless Lord! Amazing—and liberating—and inspiring…

 

 

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Emotional whiplash that produces nothing

 

One of the more repulsive results of sin in my life is my over-reaction to it. I tend to move in extremes (since I am generally ignorant of where the ‘middle’ is—sigh), and so when I commit some sin I particularly despise (or fail to do something I truly treasure), I often over-react (leading to dead legalism) in what I call ‘emotional whiplash’. I get so disgusted with myself and angry about it, that I ‘over-legislate’ in the opposite extreme. I prohibit that which is good, or I allow that which can become dangerous.

 

If I over-eat (in some kind of self-centered lust), I will swing to the other extreme and create a harsh regimen that reduces my ability to “get my life out the door” and which actually is of no value for restraint (cf Paul in Col 2.23: “harsh treatment of the body, …no value against fleshly indulgence”). If I drink too much, if I spend too much, if I sleep too much, if I work too much, if I withdraw too much… my reaction is predictable (sigh), and requires even MORE time to correct my over-reaction!

 

And so, when I should just start moving the pendulum back toward the center, I instead swing it all the way back to the opposite point of the arc, and it thus takes me twice as long to recover from failure than it should!

 

I know the proper procedure is much simpler: admit the failure to God, thank Him for the provision for forgiveness and for the ultimate removal of the underlying personal weakness, do a little ‘autopsy’ or ‘root cause analysis’ with a view to avoiding any precipitating factors NEXT time, and then get back into step with the Spirit, in the tasks of life/ministry/family/celebration. There is not supposed to be all this self-loathing and whining and self-serving guilt and despair and wallowing in self-pity that I seem to fall prey to sometimes. It’s supposed to be genuine grief over grieving our Loving Lord, a genuine relief-appreciation-confidence that the Cross is more than adequate to stop the bloodloss, and a ‘quiet haste’ to get back into the process of walking, sharing, and experiencing life with the Living God.

 

……………………………….

 

God rolls His eyes!

 

I know that God uses humor on me, to sometimes break me out of my ‘comfort zone’ morbidity-parties, but three especially stand out (for sharing with my friends—smile):

 

The first one I remember happened early in my life trying to serve the Lord. My young wife and I had just had our first child (who is now 32), we were in Seminary, I was working as a computer programmer, and we were struggling with Christmas family schedules and gift-finances. We had a radio on in the background, and had just slipped into sorta ‘complaining’ about how ‘overwhelmed’ we were by some now-unremembered problems. What I DO remember is that the radio—playing in the background—seemed to increase in volume (at least to us…smile) as it played the first line of the next song on the playlist. In this case, what came out of the speaker was that deep, God-like bass voice of George Beverly Shea as he sang the line “Shaaaackled by a heeeaaaavy burrrredddennnnn”—and my sweet wife and I cracked up laughing at the providential timing… the gloom was broken… and then we went back to living in the light of a good God…chuckle

 

The second time was a couple of decades later. My wife and I had just separated, and it was a difficult blow to my life, heart, and faith. I was in Silicon Valley at this point, and I was driving to work one morning—with the radio on again—and was complaining to God about being ‘alone’ and the difficulties this created for me in so many areas back then. But I wasn’t really pouring my heart out to Him—I was overstating the difficulty a little… you know, for a rhetorical effect on God (LOL)… and after He let me go on a little while, the Radio DJ switched the song to James Taylor’s “Walk Down that Lonesome road, all by yourself” (a cappella, for rhetorical effect on ME, obviously!)  and, again, I lost it in laughter and pulled out of the nose dive…

 

But the best that I can remember happened just recently in 2008: I was in QuietTime/Devotions, spiraling down morbidly (as is a fav pastime of mine, apparently), and I was in the OT passage [2 Chron 16.9] where it says “the eyes of the Lord range through the earth, to show himself strong for those who love Him…’ or some such… but when I read it out loud—in my pityparty mode, it came out AUDIBLY like this “ and the eyes of the Lord ROLL…” and when I said “Roll”, I visualized the Lord ‘rolling His eyes’ over me, while I was wasting time in my pity party! He was eager to minister to me through His word and our time together, but I was putting Him on ‘hold’ while I ‘gloried in how pathetic I am’ [and since I do this A LOT, the image of Him doing the “Here we go again...” and rolling His eyes just breaks me up now!]… still laffing on that one… so, now, when I get into the pre-Funk mode, the image of “God rolling his eyes” pops up and I am (typically) delivered…

 

 

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Lavished (Eph 1)

 

Over the years, as God has thawed by heart and warmed my eyes, I seem to notice more personal nuances of NT vocabulary.

 

One such word that has gotten my attention recently is ‘lavished’ used in the NIV at Eph 1.8 and 1 John 3.1 (but of two different Greek words):

 

  • In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Eph 1:7-8).

 

  • How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  (1 Jn 3:1).

 

 

“Paul especially uses περισσεύειν, which he even intensifies to ὑπερπερισσεύειν (R. 5:20; 2 C. 7:4; cf. Eph. 3:20; 1 Th. 3:10; 5:13), often in eschatological contexts. As Paul lives in utter joy at the time of salvation inaugurated with the exaltation of Christ, he continually points to the superabundance of this time as compared with the pre-Christian period. Fullness, which is an essential mark of God (cf. ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ Eph. 3:20 → πλοῦτος) is achieved in the age of salvation to an enhanced degree as compared with anything known hitherto. But this superabundance is manifested, not in superfluity of material goods, but in the sphere of the πνεῦμα [spirit]. It applies above all to the χάρις [grace], the gift of grace of the time of salvation. It is lavishly imparted to many in Christ, R. 5:15. Whereas in earlier times sin increased through the Law, grace is superabundantly greater in Christ (5:20: ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν, cf. 5:17: τὴν περισσείαν τῆς χάριτος). In keeping with this wealth of grace, a δόξα [glory] which is superabundant in comparison with the old covenant appertains to the ministry of NT δικαιοσύνη [righteousness] 2 C. 3:9. God causes rich grace in the form of every kind of wisdom and understanding to flow richly (περισσεύω trans.) on the apostles by declaring to them the secret of His saving counsel, Eph. 1:8. Known grace lavishly increases thanksgiving and thus overflows to the magnifying of God, 2 C. 4:15. [TDNT]

 

ἴδετε ποταπὴν ἀγάπην δέδωκεν ἡυῖνπατήρ, “consider how lavish is the love which the Father has showered upon us!” John’s excitement is evident, as he invites his readers to consider “how lavish is the love which the Father has showered upon us!” The plural ἴδετε (“consider”) heightens the sense of enthusiasm; especially since, elsewhere in the NT, this plural form is used only with reference to something “actually visible” (…). The word ποταπήν (“how lavish”), rarely used in the NT, sustains this atmosphere, and introduces a note of wonder: God’s love is so “lavish.” In the NT ποταπίς (literally, “of what sort”) usually describes that which is surprising or admirable (…); but, whereas the term commonly means “of what a kind” (cf. Matt 8:27; 2 Pet 3:11), here it signifies “of what a degree” (cf. Mark 13:1, ἴδε ποταποὶ λίθοι, “look, what massive stones!”).” [WBC]

 

The point about ‘lavish’ that impresses me at this point can be seen from the lexical entry for the Greek word Paul used: “be more than enough, be left over”.

 

God’s gifts and grace and gentleness and generosity are ‘above and beyond what is required’. He does not do ‘just enough to get by’, but abounds and super-abounds in His goodness to us. Some Hebrew Bible translations of the covenant proclamation of YHWH use the ‘lavish’ word to translate “but He lavishes His love on thousands of generations of those who honor Him”. He may mete out judgment with exactitude (for reasons of justice, fairness, and integrity), but when it comes to His joyous expressions of giving, sharing (e.g. we humans will share in the inheritance of His incredible Son?!!!), gifting, and blessing—He is ‘over the top’.

 

And “the point of my point” here is not really about the lavish gifts, but rather about the Giver. A lavish gift points to a lavish Giver, and the thought that God has/is such a lavish heart and lavish life leads me to worship, appreciation, and desire to get to know this One better and closer…

 

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Abraham and Isaac on the power of post-resurrection folk

 

One of the topics that has engaged biblical students (among others) over the millennia is Abraham’s response to God’s command to offer Isaac as a burnt offering on Mt Moriah. The incident is used in OT scripture as proof of Abraham’s submission/obedience to the Lord, and in Hebrews it is used to illustrate Abraham’s faith (instead of obedience) states that Abraham was expecting God to raise Isaac, even if he completed the sacrifice. [The promises given to Abraham required Isaac to be alive and produce offspring.]

 

But I have often wondered about what Abraham might have thought was the reason for the temporary-sacrifice of Isaac, given the expectation of resurrection. He knew Isaac could not actually stay dead (assuming that Abraham actually believed that God would make him go through with it—a questionable assumption, IMO).

 

It is conceivable that he saw the whole thing as just a test-of-loyalty (which we know it was—at least in one of its main aspects), but this could have been done via many other means other than death/resurrection.

 

The reason I mention this is that every time I read about the ‘explanations’ (by Herod and the populace) of Jesus’ miraculous powers, I think about Abraham’s understanding of resurrection and the promises made to him:

 

And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him (Mk 6:14).

 

Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,  and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others, that one of the prophets of old had risen again. (Lk 9:7).

 

In other words, there was at least the perception of some people (at the time of Christ) that a resurrected person would have extra ‘powers’ or miraculous abilities, and with the ability to create an impact beyond what a ‘normal life’ might be expected to yield.

 

I cannot find any evidence to suggest that this perspective was held by Abraham (or anybody before David), but if it was then Abraham might have reasoned like this:

 

“God promised me that the whole world would be blessed through my offspring. Even if my kids are really, really awesome, it is a stretch to think they could have a global impact of this sort.  A normal human life can only have normal human impacts—even kings would only impact part of the known world. Maybe my son has to become ‘transcendently human’ in some way, like becoming eternal or divine-like or immortal. Maybe Isaac has to die in order to achieve super-human, above-mortality status—for the promises to be fulfilled. Maybe this is the only way for him to have the power to impact the entire world.”

 

Data on resurrection beliefs in the ANE is nonexistent, although some legends/stories in the surrounding cultures witness the belief that post-mortem ‘souls’ could manifest other-worldly capabilities [even if they were not resurrected in bodies].  Even the agricultural myths of ‘spring rising from the dead of winter’ (maybe?) might suggest that a resurrected Isaac would be more-than-mortal…?

 

Oddly enough, the speculative speech I put into Abraham’s mouth above is actually a legitimate argument. That is exactly how it was done—our Lord died and rose again to solve the sin problem for the whole world. And His post-resurrection body/capabilities  will be required at the end of time to finally banish the very presence of evil from the New Future.

 

My reconstruction is speculative, since the data is so sparse—but I bet Abraham had some ‘guess’ at why God would have chosen to use death and resurrection as the means to achieving His blessing to all peoples through Isaac.

 

[That being said, it should be noted that anytime I personally try to guess why God has me do a certain task, I am probably wrong… Although He frequently shares His reason and goals for something, there is a ‘statistical reason’ (smile) why His ways are often called ‘inscrutable’ (LOL)…]

 

…………………………………

 

 

By looking at a future-glenn, I become more like him in time…

 

One of the things I learned early (from scripture) was that we become like the people we ‘pay attention to’ [In an unguarded way, that is—we can associate with the ‘wicked’ as long as we maintain the internal perspective of ‘ethical distance’ . We can love them, honor aspects of their character/lives, but we still recognize their unsuitability as examples to emulate. This seems to eliminate or reduce the ‘influence’ impact.]

 

We hang out with good-hearted believers, we ‘move’ in that direction ourselves. We study the heart and character of Jesus, we ‘move’ in that direction in our hearts. We spend time with God in prayer, we ‘move’ in that direction in our priorities.

 

One special case of this is my view of my ‘future self’—characterized fully by righteousness, love, compassion, patience, integrity, celebration, moral strength, and focus on the truly good. To a certain extent, I can visualize how these would ‘look’ in my current daily life, although I am sensitive to the danger of focusing on ‘externals’ and to the danger of false ‘visualizations’ due to my lack of full maturity. But I have noticed that in contemplating this ‘future glenn’ (a pale expression of what I will be like after the Final Transformation!), I am ‘challenged’ [like the ‘challenge’ of considering the heroes in Hebrews 11-12] and I can see myself responding positively to that image—and I seem to do better.

 

I suppose that this works partially from the related ‘think on the noble, good, true things’ principle [Phil 4.8], and partially from the fact that the ‘better glenn’ is more like Jesus than the ‘existing glenn’ (sigh), meaning that I am contemplating the Jesus-heart in the future glenn.

 

…..

 

(okay, that’s about a third of what I have to write—but the next installment with have to wait…)

 

Glenn  

 

 


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