Thursday, February 7, 2013

Death is not normal, it is our enemy!

In the Apostle John's account (chapter 11) of the death of Lazarus we find the shortest verse in the Bible "Jesus wept" (v.35). On two accounts it is recorded that "he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled" (v.33), and "Jesus, once more deeply moved" (v.38).

Let me provide some different translations for vv. 33, 38----

New Living Translation (©2007) "...a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled (33).

The Message "...a deep anger welled up within him" (33).

New Living Translation (©2007) "Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb..." (38).

The Message "Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb..." (38).

Here is the Greek definition for the word translated (groaning) found in most of our translations:

embrimaomai: to be moved with anger, to admonish sternly
Original Word: ἐμβριμάομαι
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: embrimaomai
Phonetic Spelling: (em-brim-ah'-om-ahee)
Short Definition: I snort, express indignant displeasure
Definition: I snort (with the notion of coercion springing out of displeasure, anger, indignation, antagonism), express indignant displeasure with some one; I charge sternly.

All of that for this: What was Jesus so angry about? What was he so displeased with? What was he so snorting mad at?

It was DEATH; the last enemy that he would destroy, did you catch that, the last enemy, the last enemy. Jesus was angry at death and the devil, who is the author of all death, (for he was a murderer from the beginning).

Think of it this way, the death of Lazarus stood for the death of the entire human race, how contrary to God's original design for the world and His creation. God's world was supposed to flourish in peace and wholeness. Then sin, death, and the devil came and destroyed all that was good and perfect. God in His great love and mercy sent His Son to redeem and bring reconciliation to a world that had become dark and disjointed.

I can remember when at my fathers bed side at the hospital when he was dying how I felt a horrible anger, I can remember telling my wife that, "this is not the way it is supposed to be," I didn't buy into that old worn out cliché that said, "death is the circle of life garbage, I knew that death was an enemy, yes, an enemy to every human and to God himself.

When I saw death I knew that I was looking at something that was abnormal, something that was out of place, and something needed to be fixed. Death is ugly, death is dark, and shows no mercy, and remember what causes death? It is something that is just as offensive, it is sin.

I believe that on that day, when Jesus came late to his friend’s aid, it was a purposeful delay. Jesus meant to show the world that he came to reclaim that which was lost through the fall. Jesus' raising Lazarus from the grave foreshadowed His own resurrection from the dead, for Lazarus would die again, but not our Lord, He now lives forever to grant His resurrection power to all who are united to Him by faith.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Does Character matter? Sure it does!

Does character matter? Take the time to ponder that question, don't let it just slip in one ear and out the other. I mean does virtue and integrity mean anything today? or should the virtues that makeup character be left to the long lost days of the Victorian era?

I think back to the days of Knights-you know the days when men were men and there was a code of conduct that was followed if you were to be recognized as a man of character. The term that was used to describe this kind of conduct was called chivalry. Wikipedia describes chivalry as:

Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is the traditional code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of Knighthood. Chivalry arose from an idealized German custom. It was originally conceived of as an aristocratic warrior code — the term derives from the French term for horseman — involving honor, gallantry, and individual training and service to others. Over time its meaning has been refined to emphasize more ideals such as knightly virtues, honor, courtly love, courtesy, and less martial aspects of the tradition.

When we talk about servant leadership, character certainly comes to the top of the list of what  makes a leader a great leader. We know that there are those that can lead through brute power and force; we know that many leaders view character traits as a weakness that will only be exploited by others.

I remember reading in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's biography by Eric Mataxas that Hitler hated Christianity-why? because Christianity taught and promoted such ideals as: forgiveness, love, kindness, turning the other cheek, all of which Hitler viewed as weaknesses. Hitler was certainly a strong and powerful leader, but he ruled through deceit, coercion, and inflicting pain and suffering on those he led.

Getting back to the question does character matter? of course it does! Character will never go out of date like bell bottom jeans, platform shoes, or dying hair blue, green and red. Character stands the test of time, it has grit, it defines who you are, it is really you, the real you .

A man/women without character is really a shell of a person. Without character there is nothing that defines that person--many times I've noticed that those without character will be "whatever you want them to be," they will be all things to all people groups. They are like a bowl of gelatin, no form or shape, just rolling around in the cup of life without any defining character foundation.

For the follower of Christ, he/she does not cultivate character traits just to build character, no, for the Christ follower there is a higher purpose in all he does----all that the believer does is for the glory of God, but the Bible is not silent about character, listen to the Scriptures as they speak concerning our topic at hand: "...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love" 2 Peter 2: 5-7.

Jesus sums up the topic for us in the Sermon on the Mount when he says "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven 5:16."

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...