Archive for the ‘Colossians’ Category

Venice Time

December 20th, 2012
Marla on Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

Time in Motion

Our Italian doctor in Milan is fond of making the assertion, “Let’s look at the science.” Similarly, like a good scientist, Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, in his book: A Brief History of Time, after laboring for ten chapters with the science, offers this startling conclusion: The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the question of why there should be a universe to describe”. He then goes on to posit further, “Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?” (174). These questions are telling, especially after Hawking began his book, “And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in” (13).
The Christian worldview has an appreciation for “the science.” But, it also realizes that to describe the universe from inside the universe can be precarious. In other words, not all secrets of the universe are given up at Cambridge or Princeton or MIT. To the Christian worldview, there is information which places the Lord outside the jurisdiction of the universe. Do we understand this? Reference Colossians 1:17, for example, where Christ is referred to as, sunesteken, in Paul’s Greek. This is translated, “…in him all things hold together (ESV). Hawking allows Guth to explain a GUT (grand unified theory) (see chapter 8, The Origin and Fate of the Universe):

Clocktower on Island of Murano in Venice, Italy

Ventian Clocktower

“In an attempt to find a model of the universe in which many different initial configurations could have evolved to something like the present universe, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Alan Guth, suggested that the early universe might have gone through a period of very rapid expansion. This expansion is said to be “inflationary,” meaning that the universe at one time expanded at an increasing rate rather than the decreasing rate that is does today” (127). The Christian portrayal of a GUT must involve the Hebrews 1:3 data, which places the ultimate source of energy and dynamics outside the system.

Island of Murano, Venice, Italy

Isle of Murano

Now, when it comes to appreciating the above information, we are at once confronted with the ramifications to prayer. The God who answers prayer, being outside of the system per se, and yet concerned with the interior, is able to deliver (Ephesians 3:14-21). A second reason for relevance in these matters about a theology of Christ involves how the Lord is able to enter history. Throughout the biblical text there are invitations for participation in this, The Greatest Story Ever Told.
So, we give thanks today for solar physics and biological thriving (a biology and physics of Genesis); for gravitational force (attraction); and for atomic stability (coherence). This is My Father’s World!

Italian Magnum Opus

November 27th, 2011

In A Brief History of Time, Carl Sagan introduces the Cambridge Professor of Mathematics, Stephen Hawking,  by saying something thoughtful:  “We go about our daily lives understanding almost nothing about the world” (ix).  Maybe Sagan was speaking more of himself than for Christians (see Romans 1:19-21).  But, it does appear that he had a valid point.  Our problem with a purely Marlamaterial position of the world is that it is strongly tilted toward a set of presuppositions which exclude outside forces  (namely the Lord God) from the git-go.    That is why, when people sometimes state, “I believe in Science,”  they are actually admitting to a higher power that is observable.  An immediate problem here involves the nature of God being spirit, not chemical or a mere force field (John 4:24).  So, end of discussion, right?

The world from a physical standpoint does have four fundamental forces: (1)  Gravitational  (2)  Electromagnetic  (3) Weak Nuclear, and (4)  Strong Nuclear.  The Bible writer to the Hebrews, in 1:3, 10-12; 10:3 , presents Christian faith as including a  cosmological view of things.  So, those forces for Hawking are contained; while for Christians they are contingent.  Allowing for this data, we may move into the discussion of God in history.

There appear to be some firm components in the mind of the apostle Paul.  One such idea is that God is at work in the world.  But, even before Paul, we may delve into what Jesus himself thought of the world.  What kind of a place is it neighborsanyway?  For, to think as Jesus thought, to feel as he felt, and to see as he saw , we will need to acquire his set of beliefs (or, belief system).  John 5:17 captures this assumption in a  few words. Jesus believed that the Father was at work in the world, and that he was also involved in this magnum opus.  When the gospel is preached and people respond in baptism, they are raised by the power of God out of the watery grave of Christian baptism.  This is the Lord’s  continuation of John 5:17.  This is furthermore a call to believers to participate in the work of God (opera in Italian), by submitting to his plan.  If it begins here, commencing in baptism, it takes the believer far away and yet nearer to the one who calls.  This may be seen in Philippians 1:6, where the work of God in history has high continuity with John 5:17 and Colossians 2:12.

Why then emphasize making new friends or teaching worldview to bambini in Italy?  Of course, it is part of the plan!  Sagan and Hawking have done their homework and have gained the plaudits of men.  But, they have also limited their world with the rejection of any divine working in cosmos or history.  That is because of the Science, right?  Think again.  Sagan may know why stars twinkle (to the human eye), but we know why they shine on (Rom. 1:19-21; Ps. 19:1-6; Mal. 4:2; Dan. 12:3).    The great Italian Magnum Opus does not belong Albertaexclusively  to Columbus, Galileo, or Fermi.  The sub-atomic level may appear random; neutrinos, for example.  But, the speed of light is still a constant (300,00 kilometers per sec.).  Dare to participate in the drama.  Jesus will meet you there (Jn. 5:17; Col. 2:12; Phil. 1:6).  Pronto?

Useful to the Master in 2009

January 11th, 2009

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your  reward.  You are serving the Lord Christ”

(Col. 3:23,24)

The story was recently told over the radio about an American soldier returned from Iraq who suffered the loss of both legs.   As devastating as this must have been for him, and doubtless will continue to be, his attitude seems exemplary.  He is reported to be fond of wearing a shirt when he goes out in public with a printed message.  It reads on the front-Used Marine, Cheap.  On the back of his shirt it reads-40% OFF / SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.

Like the American soldier above, we also want to find our own niche after loss and disappointment; to continue to get up and try again-under less than ideal circumstances. How well Paul knew this (2 Corinthians 11:21-33).

1. Being useful was a priority with Paul (Philemon 11b).

2. Even being useless is notable to Paul (Philemon 11a)

3. The motivation for usefulness is the Master (Col. 3:22-4:1).

4. Being useful is to produce good works (Eph. 2:10).

5. And, Paul kept in mind the need for constant encouragement to remain useful (1 Cor. 15:58).

The Lord will not forget your usefulness.

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, Colossians, New Testament, Useful Tags:

Stable and Steadfast

October 15th, 2006

(Colossians 1:21-23)

“…if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast,
not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…”

(Colossians 1:23, ESV)

When George Ricker Berry translated Colossians 1:23, in his literal rendering, directly from the Greek New Testament, he chose the wording: “founded and firm” (Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), 522). The English Standard Version reads: “stable and steadfast;” while the King James Version has—“grounded and settled.”

Colossians 1:23 describes Christian development in several key ways:

1. Col. 1:21,22 speaks of what God has done, and is doing for the believer. Note the past and present references of benefit here.

2. Although set up as a condition, this conditional sentence, “if” (1:23) expresses Paul’s confidence that the condition will be met with stable and steadfast living.

3. The caution against shifting away from the original gospel and being carried away with another gospel is stressed. Likely, the falsification here meant unnecessary supplementing of the gospel (see 2:6-15).

According to Colossians 1:21-23, Christian development means: (1) Realizing what God has done and is doing for us (2) Accepting the conditional nature of the faith; while having apostolic confidence that one can well continue (3) That the original gospel will be preferred and kept.

– Robert M. Housby

The Satisfaction of A Successful Work Ethic

July 16th, 2006

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.
You re serving the Lord Christ”

(Colossians 3:23,24)

Mark Twain once appeared at a grammar school graduation as the honored speaker. One of his functions was to present awards to the students. One boy’s prize was a big Webster’s Dictionary. Twain had this to say about the award—“This is a very interesting and useful book, my son. I have studied it often, but I never could discover the plot”.”

When it comes to asking what is the major plot of the Bible, there is a theological theme which must not be overlooked; that theme is the “the work of the Lord” (John 5:17; 6:28-29; 1 Cor. 16:10). To be able to participate in the work of the Lord is man’s highest duty and privilege. There can be no more satisfying occupation than the work of the Lord. No Fortune 500 Company can rival this magnificent work.

Are you satisfied with your work ethic? Ask yourself–am I contributing to the work of the Lord? Notice that Colossians 3:22-4:1 grounds the Christian work ethic to one’s relationship with the Lord. In other words, your work ethic is a reflection of your relationship with Jesus. Participate in the plot of the Bible.

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Colossians, New Testament, work ethic Tags:

Suppose God Wanted to Use You Today

June 5th, 2005

” Have Thine own way Lord! Have Thine own way! Search me and try me, Master today…”

-Adelaide A. Pollard, Have Thine Own Way, Lord

And so, another Sunday rolled around. The church was all gathered as usual, singing the old songs, and praying for the standard blessings from heaven. The preacher began his sermon that morning with a question, ” Suppose that God wanted to use you today, could he?” He then paused. But, this pause was no ordinary pause. This pause was a silence of some thirty-seconds! Now, the church at this particular place was not at all accustomed to very good preaching. But, here was a question that was more about the individual in the pew than it was about the preacher in the pulpit. So, after some personal introspection, and not a little shifting about, the preacher had the audacity to ask the very same question again. Suppose that God did want to use you, and he wanted to use you today, could he? He proceeded with the sermon:

1. First, God cannot use someone who is too busy accomplishing their own agenda; if he can’t gain you on the first day of the week, it’s not likely that he’ll have you on a Wednesday or a Thursday either (Matt. 6:24)..
2. Secondly, if God cannot use you today, he cannot use you at all; for today is all we have to give (Col. 4:5).

Soon the sermon was over. They sang a closing song, “Let Him Have His Way
with Thee,”
and broke for lunch. But, before they left the church building that
day, they would all get a church bulletin. Strangely, the bulletin was entitled,
“Suppose God Wanted to Use You Today!”

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, Colossians, Matthew, New Testament Tags:

Hallowed Halls

August 1st, 2004

“For by it the people of old received their commendation.”

(Hebrews 11:2)

Years ago, while studying on the campus of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, I was walking down a hallowed hallway. There, on either side of the corridor, I was flanked by large portraits of past students who went on to become accomplished experts in their respective fields. There were hundreds of them. It was about this same time that I had been talking with an individual about what makes a school outstanding. I was expressing that it was the teachers who determined whether an academic institution would be great. To my surprise, my friend began shaking his head to the contrary. He said that it was not the teachers that made the institution great. I said, “Well, what is it then?” He replied, “the students.”

Whether commendation, then, is seen as coming through teachers’ techniques, or through students’ accomplishments, we cannot doubt but that both have a role to play. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is
fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Competence, biblically, comes from God (2 Corinthians 3:5,6). And, finding our human completeness is a search that will lead us to the Christ (Colossians 2:10; Philippians 3:9).

There is a story of a village beggar reputed to have little mental capacity. Whenever he was offered a choice between a nickel and a dime he always chosethe nickel. After this had gone on for some time, a chap pulled him aside and explained that a dime is worth twice as much as a nickel, and that he should always choose the dime. “Oh, I know the dime is worth more,” the beggar replied. “But if I ever chose the dime, people would stop offering.” (Wood’s Modern Handbook, p. 517). It seems that the beggar had his own hallowed hall of expertise. And what might yours’ be? If it is not a commendation through the
competence which God gives; if it is not a completeness through the life and work which Christ gives— it is not a commendation of faith (Hebrews 11:2,3).

The teacher will teach when the student is ready.

–Robert M. Housby

Categories: 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Hebrews, Luke, Philemon Tags: