Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Manly Coffee Mugs...

This morning I awoke with a single thought on my mind…coffee.  In the past few years I have become a kind of a coffee snob, as much as I am loath to mention it.  I love fresh ground and then fresh brewed coffee.  For those that have only bought the pre-ground coffee in the stores you may not know that there is a difference but there is.  I had some dear friends that imported real Kona coffee beans from Hawaii and I was wanting a fresh cup from that tropical wonderland. 

Hearing the grinder go and then the sound of the water percolating over that tremendous blend I reached into the cupboard for a cup and my hand froze.  Looking in to the cabinet and all I saw was flowery frou-frou mugs.  I even saw one that said, “shhh mommy is not conscious yet.”  It occurred to me that all there were no manly cups available.  Looking back at the steadily brewing blend of roasted goodness and I was torn.  Is it just my weirdness or are there other men that hesitate to put their coffee in a cup that is a bit girly? 

Fortunately as I rummaged through I found a cup in the very back under bowl, (why the bowl was covering this cup I have not got a clue) and there sat a cup with two wolves howling at a full moon and I breathed a sigh of relief.  It was a smaller cup than I wanted but I felt that I finally had a suitable vessel for such a great concoction. 

I am not sure what this says about me.  I know that I could fall back on the old adage, “What would Jesus do?”  I know that I am just an armchair theologian but I have yet to read anything in the New or Old Testaments that deal with this issue.  So I guess I need to deal with the fact that not only am I a coffee a snob I am also a coffee mug snob.  Either way after the cup was chosen the appropriate additives to the brew I was able to sit and enjoy a cup and spend some time with the Lord in the silence of the house and my soul.  

Lord, thank you for the simple things and for being there in the big ones!  Please allow me to love you with an intensity that defies understanding. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fear Not!

You only have to turn on the news, read a newspaper or just walk through our neighborhoods and it is increasingly becoming a world that is against the principles of the Bible.  Looking at the attempt to regulate preachers in Texas to the beheadings in the Middle East being a Christian is increasingly becoming a dangerous thing.  As a Baptist and one who has studied the history of the protestant reformation this kind of persecution has happened before.  The truth is that the Church (the very Body of Jesus Christ) historically has been spread on the blood of the martyrs.  When we cry out to the Lord for Him to come back quickly we are ultimately asking for this kind of persecution to be ramped up.

I do not wish to be a doomsayer or to give a false prophecy.  My main feeling is that identifying ourselves with Christ MUST MEAN SOMETHING!  It has to be more than just sitting in a pew.  There was a time when a person committed themselves to Christ they knew that their life expectancy had just been reduced to less than 18 months.  Now we wonder if we can get a discount on our CafĂ© Latte’s at the local “Christian” coffee house.

With gunmen in Canada and craziness in Europe it is easy to be afraid. When times of trials and troubles come, when persecution begins people of God need to fall to their knees and pray. In Isaiah 41 the Lord has this to say:

“But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. “See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing.”

Fear Not For He Is With Us, According To Paul We Are Adopted Into the Family Of Jacob! Rest Easy In Him!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Requiem for the End of an Era!

I have walked the beaches of Normandy, strolled through the fields of Bastogne, sat in Flanders where real men bled and died for freedom.  I have read the very words of men who fought and bled to buy the freedom that we take for granted today, for freedom is never free!  And I weep for a lost greatness that should be our legacy.  Now the free world is clamoring to give up this freedom for bits of shiny metal and glass beads.  Gone is our national consciousness and as a culture I believe that we are in decline.

This may be a strike against American culture but that is not the worst part.  In the middle of this cultural decline and moral malaise the church has followed the same path.  It is hard to imagine the church, the Bride of Christ, the living body that carries in its breast the Holy Spirit of God; has willingly walked away from her source of power.  We now stand amidst the ashes of our former glory marginalized by the very people that we are charged with saving and loving.  How do we, the body  and bride of Christ, reach out to a world that does not want us?  How do we look into the loving, tear streaked face of Jesus and say that we have done all we could to tell the world that He loves them?  

Some have tried to answer these questions by pulling back from the world, to isolate themselves and their children and hope that whatever has infected the rest of the world will pass them by.  Others have tried to straddle the fence and live in both worlds, the effect of that is to really be a child of neither world.  Others have tried to engage the world using the world’s tools.  They embrace the Apostle Paul’s mantra of being all things to all men.  For me I a feel that none of these answers are really effective in the long run.  That leaves us still with the question of how do we live in this world and fulfill our calling to be in the world and not of it?

Pastor AL Weeks,
Slave of Christ

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Nicodemus "The" Teacher of the Jews

John chapter three has held a special place in the hearts of believers, theologians, and even casual readers of the Bible for countless years.  John as a book is an amazing piece of first century Greek literature and a fantastic insight into not only the Johnine community but also the first church that was alive and thriving during the time of the writing of this great book. 
This book was written by John the Beloved Apostle, the one that reclined on Jesus during the last supper and the brother of James.  This would have been one of the last books of the bible to be written and it would have been written by one of the last people on earth that had seen, walked, talked, ate, and drank with Jesus.  John does not try to record all the things that Jesus said or did but he does attempt to bring out Jesus as the Son of God, and in essence God Himself. 
      The book of John is a study in contrasts.  The most notable contrast found in this book is the one between light and dark.  The prologue (the first several verses of chapter one) deals with this concept and the contrasts manifest throughout this whole book.  In chapter three the entire scene takes place in the dark; from the beginning to the end there is a darkness that is portrayed.  The contrast comes in the fourth chapter when Jesus meets with the woman at the well.
Some have said that “the fact that Nicodemus came “at night” was, of course, due to fear lest he be seen, and thus his standing be compromised.”[1]  I have heard it said that the coming by night was not an act born of fear but rather that he came by night because that was when one studied the Law.  The day was for work and the night was for the study of the law.  It is interesting to note that by coming by night Nicodemus made himself a hero to the slave populations as far into the future as the 1800’s. 
Ultimately, “a number of reasons have been suggested as to why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, but all are based on speculation, and none are important as far as the translation is concerned.”[1]  To really understand the reason that John mentions the nightly meeting is to view it in light of the book as a whole. 
As we mentioned before there is deliberateness to the contrasting between the light and the dark.  “The Johannine prologue has alerted the reader to the symbolic significance of the separation of light and darkness. Light represents life, revelation, knowledge, understanding, while darkness represents incomprehension, rejection of divine truth, and, by implication, a severance from the source of all life, and thus, a state of death (1:4-5, 9). Are we to conclude, then, that Nicodemus is of the darkness and remains in darkness…”[2] 
Nicodemus came seeking something.  What he came for we will never know this side of glory.  The reason for this is that Jesus did not give him time to make his case or his appeal.  Now we can speculate all day long but in the end we just cannot know with certainty.  In chapter seven of John’s gospel Nicodemus is put down for his minor attempt at a defense of Jesus.  So it is clear that whatever that Nicodemus went away from this meeting with he did not share it with the majority of the Sanhedrin. 

-excerpt from my new book Musing from an Armchair Teologian  

[1] Barclay Moon Newman and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Gospel of John, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 76
[2] Winsome, Munro, The Pharisee and the Samaritan in John: Polar or parallel?, (The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 57.4 Oct 1995) Pg. 710 (3)

[1] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961), 229