Simply Sit and Be Still

God’s presence is so good. We can just sit and abide in it.

Bring Him questions, ideas, thoughts, fears, wishes and dreams.

Jesus has worked this privilege for us. We can enter God’s presence and dwell there.

Try it. Make yourself physically comfortable, and sit, be still. Once you’ve finished pouring yourself, emotionally, mentally etc, to Him…let Him pour Himself out to you.

It really is incredible. We can become one with God.

On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you (John 14:20)…. may they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One – I in them and You in Me…. (John 17:21-23)

We would be foolish to pass up the opportunity.

Black and White – or Grey

I am young, relatively, at least in my mind. I still tend to see the majority of decisions as black and white. When I turn the heating on, it’s either “fully on” (5/5 on all the radiator dials) or “fully off”.

When I order a pizza, unless my wise wife stops me, it’s a ‘large’ with all the sides.

These are trivial examples. The more controversial: who should I vote for? How honest should I be? Who can lead a Church, who can preach, and who can’t…and why? What is gender, can it be changed, can it be defined? What is loving, what is not? Should I sell all my possessions to the poor?

I know a lot of people say that as you get older things become less black and white, and a little bit more grey. There is balance, there is nuance, there are caveats and conditions.

I think I am old enough to believe this.

But, at the same time, I think I’m young enough to know the importance of black and white clarity.

Black and white clarity, enables confidence. Where greyness, implies compromise.

Balance. So, was Jesus black and white, or was He grey? A few moments spring to mind:

1) When asked whether His disciples should pay tax, He said: Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.

2) What speaking on promises and vows, He taught that: we shouldn’t swear by heaven or earth, but let our ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ mean ‘no’.

3) When confronted with the woman caught in adultery, He challenged the accusers ‘to throw the first stone only if they had not sinned themselves’.

4) When asked upon which mountain worship was to happen, He foretold: that a time was coming where people would worship in Spirit and Truth.

5) When asked if He was the Son of God, He replied: This is what you say I am.

6) When asked whether or not the disciple John would live forever, Jesus explained: “If I want Him to remain alive, what is that to you”

7) When asked “who is my neighbour”, He told a story and asked in return: “which man was a neighbour?”

It seems our Lord and Saviour was black and white in certain areas, with a wisdom and Gandalf-like ambiguity in other areas. He spoke plainly to some, in parables to others and in riddles to many.

New Book – New Seeds of Contemplation

Can’t promise I’ll be making notes on every chapter, but this is what I’ve just started. It’s a little out of my comfort zone and a little “left field” from what I’m used to.

But it was highly recommended from a friend/mentor I look up and respect! Wish me luck!

Chapter 1 explored ‘What is Contemplation?’. The best summary I found was “Contemplation is the awareness and realisation, even in some sense experience, of what each Christian obscurely believes: it is no longer I who live, but Christ who live in me”.

In other words, its about being aware that Christ is living in us, and this awareness being an experience.

It’s a little over my head, but I’m prepared to engage with it. This will definitely stretch me in my faith!

I’ve included an affiliate link in case anyone is interested and wants to read as well. The book was pretty tricky to get in the UK and I had to wait a month. New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

Genesis 1:1-2:3 Part 3 The Divine Image

Another thing that I wanted to share from my study of this chapter, is the emphasis on the creation of mankind. It says God created man(kind) in His image and in the image and likeness of God He created them. I think overall the passage mentions that we were made in God’s image three times! As Mike Pilavachi would say, if God says something three times, it’s generally “good-theology” to pay attention.

So it is not surprise then that the commentators did pay a lot of attention to this. I wanted to include a list of thoughts towards what it means to be made in the ‘Divine Image’ here:

1. Humans are given Various (God-like) Capacities. Wayne Grudem, I understand, calls these “communicable attributes of God” – the attributes of God that we share/shadow in. For example we can reason, we can create, we can talk and listen. Obviously not to the infinite extent God-can, but like Him nonetheless. There are “incommunicable attributes” as well such as omnipotence, omnipresence etc. But clearly part of what it means to be made in God’s image is that we can function a little like God. See my previous post on Genesis to see how God has provided mankind with authority.

2. Humans are made Relational beings. Just like the Trinitarian God, who has been subtlety introduced throughout this passage (His Spirit over the water, “let us make mankind” and that He made us in His image: male and female), human beings are made relational. In fact we will later notice that the one thing “not good” in all of creation is that it was not good for man to be alone.

The commentators highlighted that we are not just relational in terms of our capacity to relate to each other, but also in our capacity to relate to God.

3. Human beings are made Human Becomings. Since humans are relational, and relationships happen over time part of what it means to be a human is to be someone who is moving into closer relationship with God. To be someone who is growing into their identity. That’s why Ephesians 4:13 hints at when it says: “until we all reach unity…and knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

It was picked up by the commentators in the next chapter: man is offered two paths to knowledge. 1) Experientially, through obedience to God and participation with His plan. 2) Sinfully, through detachment and “enlightenment” via the “tree of knowledge of good and evil”. The commentator emphasises that true knowledge is always found via knowing and obeying God. This is how we become more human. I am fascinated with this concept!

4. Human beings are made to Represent God to creation. Just as an ancient king might set up statues in distant lands to represent himself to the population, so too our God sets us up to represent Him to creation. However because of sin we are limited and marred in all our attempts to do this. However, Jesus who never sinned, is called the ultimate image of God, in fact His exact representation! (Col 1:15)

Finally, let us not forget Colossians 1:15: “THE SON IS THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD THE FIRSTBORN OVER ALL CREATION.’’ Where Adam and Eve failed to live up to the opportunity God gave them, Christ succeeds. May we seek to look upon Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12), may we contemplate His glory and in so doing be transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3). For we know that it when He appears, when we see Him, that we will be like Him (1 John 3:2).

Oh, may our gaze ever be towards Christ, the true divine image of God!

There was a quote which I really liked. To be made in the Divine image is both “a task and a gift, it is a history and a status”. Yes it is inherent in our nature to be made in God’s image, but it is also a responsibility, an invitation and something which we can grow into. May we seek to obey God, steward His gifts, represent Him, carry out our God-like capacities, and in so doing come to know Him more through experiential obedience!

Theology of the Old Testament

The introductions in the ESV study Bible seem a little like the trailers before a film at the cinema! Anticipation is building and I find I’m almost halfway through my popcorn! (Will definitely need another Pepsi from the counter before the actual film starts)

“The following trailers have been specially selected for this film”

My summary of this introduction, as usual my three favourite things are highlighted

This introduction gave less of an overview of the Old Testament, and more of an overview of it’s themes and style. Rather that trying to identify a single over-arching theme for the whole Old Testament and in so doing over-simplify and miss other themes! It suggested a better approach would be to see it as an ‘Unfolding Story’, with the various parts (law, prophets, history etc) all contributing to this story in different ways.

I think my notes above, are comprehensive enough to grasp without my spelling it all out again. So I wanted to share the three things that stood out to me.

1) Monotheism doesn’t just mean there is One God. Monotheism in the Old Testament means that as followers of God, we need to have an exclusive loyalty and devotion to One God. This is a move from comprehension towards application. It’s not enough to know that there is One God, we must also follow One God. This is easier than it sounds, especially when you consider Keller’s list of “counterfeit gods” (dreams, relationships, money, success, power and glory). Jesus reiterates this in the gospel when He says that you cannot serve two masters! And so the Old Testament reminds us that there is only One God who is worthy of our worship and devotion.

2) One of the ways the OT communicates this Grand Unfolding Story, is through the repeated Eschatology (which I understand to mean something to do with the future). Over and over again, the OT story is pointing towards a glorious future for God’s people, one that is brought about by a Messiah – aka Jesus! This was important to me because, it reminds me that Scripture is all about Jesus. And likewise, my life, as I read Scripture and immerse myself in the Bible, should also mirror this pattern. My prayer after reading this introduction was that I could say like John ‘He must increase, I must decrease’. Let everything I do point towards Him.

Even my social media presence should point towards Jesus, Tony Reinke said: “my social media feed must glorify someone because my life must glorify someone. So who is getting glorified in my feed? That’s the humongous questions we all face as image bearers in the digital age”.

3) God wants to restore humanity to it’s original purpose, He wants to rescue us from sin, and this is what He will do (has done) in Jesus.

As a heads up, we’ve got two more introductions before Genesis 1:1. One an introduction to the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), and the other is an introduction to Genesis. Then we begin. So far I’ve not got to use the commentary on Genesis, but will start that when I start reading. Thanks for reading this, and I would appreciate any feedback via ‘comments’ as to what works well and what doesn’t about these posts.

Finally, I want to end by Returning to the Question (as my History teacher would say)…why am I studying the Bible? Why am a I taking hours out of my morning, that could be given to sleep, reading, exercise or writing? It is because I want to have a dynamic relationship with God, I want to grow into a posture of receptivity and learning. And I want the number one teacher – in my life – to be God’s word (Not Piper, Keller, Willard, Ferris or twitter). May His true, perfect, good and transformational Word transform me. I want my life to be all about Jesus, and so I am going to devote my time to sitting at His feet and listening!

To Him be the Glory!