Christianity · doctrine · Holiness · theologians · theology

RC Sproul’s “The Holiness of God” pt. 7

Continuing my series going through RC Sproul’s, “The Holiness of God.” Chapter seven, War and Peace with a Holy God At this juncture in Dr. Sproul’s treatise on the Holiness of God he begins to bring everything to a head. He’s defined holiness, he’s covered what it means to consider or rather reflect on God’s… Continue reading RC Sproul’s “The Holiness of God” pt. 7

Christianity · Suicide

I will Never Look at The Bridge the Same Way Again…

This post is gonna be very personal and slightly raw. If you would rather not read I’ll understand, in fact I’d suggest you don’t. With that said, I’ve got to get something off my chest. I will never look at the Golden Gate Bridge the same way again. I’ve never walked all the way across… Continue reading I will Never Look at The Bridge the Same Way Again…

Christianity

Part 10 in a series concerning the gospel as cosmological–From Dominic Bnonn Tennant

I share this blog article in its entirety. I honestly have nothing to add, just the desire to share his insights. I agree with brother Tennant in much of everything, and his articles both enthrall me and encourage me to find ways to put them into practice. I thank God for his wisdom and insight.… Continue reading Part 10 in a series concerning the gospel as cosmological–From Dominic Bnonn Tennant

Christianity · doctrine · theology

You Are Not Your Job, but Love What You Do…

Often when we are introduced or being introduced to new people a common question prefaces the discussion.

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“What do you do (i.e. for a living)?” or even “What are you(i.e. what is your job)?” Most of us just answer this without thinking of the implications of the question. The question, in and of itself, doesn’t do much more in the context of the conversation than attempt at a starting point to find out more of the person being questioned, such as: possible interests, goals, financial acumen, etc. Peeling back some of the layers of explicit intentions by the questioner, perhaps some implicit ideas of what you are answering of yourself are right beneath the surface of your response.
A small tangent before I continue. What follows are my gleanings and present actions when being asked the question. I do not necessarily need people to do as I do in this situation, only to think of the intentions in your answering the question within your professed worldview (assumed to be a Christian one). Starting conversations with people whom you’ve never met is difficult, and I do not think there is a correct conversation starter question to be had. Different situations call for different approaches. Now I’ll move on ahead to making some people angry, some confused, and others just reading this and moving along in tacit agreement.

People (including myself) answer this on occasion with responses not even in the category of occupational. Some responses I’ve given in the past are; Rock Climber, Cyclist, Mod, Punk, and a Baseball Player. Some people have responded to me with answers depicting (what I presume to be) their greatest passions: Vegan, Vegetarian, Yogi, Hippie, Retired etc. Regardless if one answers with hobbies or occupational titles the answer encodes something you believe about yourself, “I am a(choose your title).”
At the core the response should give the person(who doesn’t know you from Adam) a first impression as to what is your greatest desire. To put it another way,

you’re giving them the identity through which all other interactions will take place.

Let that sink in a bit.

If someone where to ask me, “What are you?” and I answer with “I’m a Landscaper.” what may be the next question? It’s probably going to have to do with landscaping, right? If I ask someone the same question and they retort with, “I’m a Vegetarian.” what is the tendency? To ask questions or make statements regarding vegetarianism, right? This is only natural and not an error in and of itself. But as a Christian I do believe there should be more intentionality with our conversations than mere temporal matters. What’s worse, is the response may signify that all the person answering is concerned with are these temporal matters.

I am going to make a slight detour and make some points on why I think this is an evangelistic endeavor. I promise it’s going to come right back.

If we as Christians are to be united and identified with Christ (Gal 3:27, 1 Cor 6:15, 2 Cor 5:17, Eph 2:6, Rom 7:4, etc) , who has ultimate authority (Matt 28:18); witnessing the gospel in both active (Matt 28:20, Acts 10:42, 2 Tim 4:2) and passive ways (1 Pet 2:11–12, 3:15–16, 2 Cor 6:3–10); teaching believers to obey everything he has commanded (Matt 28:20); living holy (set apart) lives for the glory and praise of God (Rom 15:6, 1 Pet 1:14–15); then how we respond to this and conduct ourselves within the occupations we have is paramount to our gospel witness.
Not everyone loves the job they have, not everyone seeks different employment, and neither of these is necessarily bad; but what does it communicate when all you hear from someone is how awful their job is? How much they desire a “better job”? A job that pays more/better? Even still, what do you think when someone sings nothing but praise for their job, bragging about the income and/or benefits of it? One sounds bitter and the other sounds arrogant. Neither, I would argue, are a Christian response (1 Cor 10:31).
God, no matter your employment, gave you the job (James 1:17, 1 Cor 4:7). You don’t deserve it, at all (Rom 2:1–3, 1 Cor 4:7). In fact he is your boss; not the supervisor, manager, owner, or whoever may be the authority over you (1 Pet 2:18, Eph 6:5, Titus 2:9, Matt 24:46, John 13:16) . They in fact also work for Jesus Christ (Rom 13:1, 1 Pet 2:18, Col 4:1, Eph 6:9, John 13:16), even if they have no clue. This should lead us to perform our jobs dutifully and joyfully to his glory (1 Cor 10:31, Col 3:17). If we have a job that brings us little to no pleasure, we should perform them with Christ-like humility until circumstances outside our control dictate a change. It communicates something the world has no idea how to parse; that this “great” or even “dead end” job has its end in magnifying the one who created everything.

Now back to the main point…

My identity is in Christ, therefore my response (in most every situation) should be “A Christian.” If I feel they are seeking a bit more specificity I’ll respond with something akin to, “I work in Landscaping for income.” or “I used to be a Climber, now I’m a Christian who likes to climb.” I admit it sounds odd, but it brings the conversation to places it may have taken more time to get to, or maybe even never at all. I love what I do, not because I like to be out in creation; not that my managers, coworkers, and owners are wonderful people; all these are true. I love what I do because through my employment I have ample opportunity to display God’s blessings of the gospel to a world lost amidst its own self destruction.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I haven’t always thought this way and still don’t respond accordingly every-time the question is posed, but with the intention to do so and the more I reflect on it, the more it becomes second nature. Practice makes perfect they say. What better thing for a Christian to do than practice magnifying the glory of God in Christ and his authority over every single aspect of our lives, including even your job that you despise/love, or a “throw away” conversation starter such as “What do you do?”

about me · Christianity · marriage · Relationships

A Pretty Lady, A Handsome Fella, A Drinking Buddy, or The Kingdom Of God?…

 

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.
Matt 13:44–46

These two parables from Jesus have such overarching applications I would like to use them as my justification on how I go about relationships, both romantic and plutonic.

A small prologue before I begin.
I have only used this approach once regarding a romantic relationship but it’s applicability is relevant across the board. I’ve been using it for a few years now with respect to all other relationships. How many of the points a friend may fall under doesn’t explain how good a friend they are, nor does it describe how I feel about them. With that said, if we are not intentional in every relationship we seek, as Christians, I believe we do a disservice to our gospel witness.

The approach I take has 5 points with a few sub-points under some.

1. Sanctification
2. Conversant
3. Soul Seeking
4. Common Interests
5. Physical Attractiveness*

Each point naturally ends up touching the other, with the final point only applicable to romantic relationships. I need to preface the rest of this discussion with saying that I am not one to begin any relationship seeking it to become romantic. I am a large proponent of taking Paul seriously in 1 Cor 7, and don’t think a Christian can justify marrying just for being married’s sake. Nor do I think a Christian can be friends (or stay friends) with someone just because they “make me feel good”, or “we’ve been friends forever”, or even “my life wouldn’t be the same without him/her.” The parable cited above doesn’t describe the Kingdom of God in these terms. It is something of so much value, of such an unapproachable worth, that everything in this temporal life pales in comparison. To be a part of God’s kingdom is to be identified with and united to Christ, seeking to be constantly conforming to his image and likeness; in deed, word, and spiritual acumen. So with that said let me define my 5 points…

  1. Sanctification (becoming more Christ-like)
    If the relationship you have with someone is not rooted in sanctification then it may be best to jettison said relationship. This has, to me, a logical progression.a) Does being around this person make you more like Christ?
    b) While you are around this person are they becoming more like Christ?
    c) Do you want this person to bring you to a more Christ-likeness?
    d) Does this person want you to bring them to a more Christ-likeness?

    This first point is something that works along the lines of any relationship. Even being around unbelievers may bring you more sanctification, while you being around them may surely bring them to become a Christian thereby making them sanctified. Only when “c” and “d” come into play is a friendship with an unbeliever something to question (they may be just fine with you preaching to them so using your best judgement is a good rule of thumb). It is also what everyone in a local church should be striving toward for each other. There should be no indication that a romantic intention is ever meant in this step.

  2. Conversant (Having conversations on diverse topics)
    This, for me, is  when my approach becomes slightly subjective. Not everyone may agree with it at this point.
    I love to talk. I’d prefer talking to playing games or doing any other various activities. Activities are fine, but if I can’t have an extended conversation with this person (even while performing activities) what depth is there to the relationship? I can find out many things about someone by observing how they do something and what it is they are doing, but words communicate much more than actions in this regard. That is what I will get at when discussing the next point. However, I also love talking about diverse things, anything really. If a person has only one area of conversational significance our relationship will be limited. This is not a bad thing, in fact it is something that can be learned (I learned it). Here is a question to consider when thinking about this point; if a friend you only do physical activities with becomes paralyzed (or vice versa), how likely is it that they remain a friend when the subject of your friendship has vanished?
  3. Soul Seeking (becoming intimate with the entire person)
    The Greek work for soul is ψυχή, transliterated this word is psyche. Does that look familiar? It should, but in english we only use a small part of its semantic domain. Under this point is getting to know the totality of an individual. If they are willing to learn, if they are willing to teach, what things do they like to do, what do they eat, what do they drink, do they have family, etc? It is closely connected to point number 2. So much so, that 2 and 3 are a tandem enterprise. To talk with someone in order to find out about who they are is to find out about their soul. And this is what will create a friend, as the archaic language of the Old Testament says, this person “is close to your bosom.”With all of the above points in close proximity and working together the next point should become effortless…
  4. Common Interests (being a foodie, walks in the park, hiking,bowling, cycling, rock climbing, various sporting activities, TV shows, movies, board games, etc.)
    I find it disconcerting that this is where most people (Christians included) start their search for relationships of any kind. I used to be one of these people, and I’ll tell you first hand that it has failed me mightily. I come back to the text originally cited above, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field, that a person found and hid. Then because of joy he went and sold all that he had and bought that field.” This should be the foremost common interest, that is why physical common interest is what this point is about. Personally I can do and enjoy most any physical activity someone asks me to accompany them in doing. I only choose to do very few, in this regard I’m pretty boring to most. I prefer to accommodate to other’s interests, it is why this point is so far down the list.This brings me to my final point.
  5. Physical Attractiveness*
    I put an asterisk here because, of all the points, this one is only applicable to romantic entanglements. I myself don’t have very much to contribute to the discussion on this point. Is there such a thing? Yes, but it is subjective. I’m of the conviction that if the first 4 points are not existing in your relationship with someone of the opposite gender, then the last point (which should precede a romantic entanglement) is a non sequitur, for the Christian especially. Finding someone to be attractive should be very important with regard to a romantic relationship only.  However, it should be so far outside the purview, I feel it best to disregard it until the time comes to pursue the individual who fulfills the first 4 points to an undisclosed satisfaction. Have I confused you with regard to point 5 yet?

Well, what are your thoughts on my approach? It is subject to alteration. I think I’m done for now.