Thursday, January 31, 2013

Toppling From the Top. Not Likely.

New Year Style

I'm going to try my best to make these little graphics for my Top Five Posts posts (Posts posts? Seriously?). Nobody's gonna make them into desktop wallpapers or anything, but at least it will serve as a signal for this feature. And give me something to pin to my Pinterest Blog Board.

About January

The blog has been gaining steam since August, which was my first month which enjoyed over a thousand hits. I have not had a sub-1,000 page view month since then (thanks to my readers). Each month enjoyed more popularity, culminating with November at 2,899 page views (I know, right? Couldn't I just get one more?). Then I experienced a lull in December. Naturally, I was occupied with other things. 

However, January rebounded in a big way. As of this post, January has enjoyed 3,400 page views and counting. It is a nice piece of encouragement as I plod along & write about those holy things that I have learned. Note that my interview with +Steve Slusser has been a smoking article since it was introduced in November. In fact, it hasn't been beaten out from the top spot since it debuted!

Enough of that, here are the popular articles on the blog!

January Posts

Dec 20, 2012, 2 comments

All-Time Posts

Dec 20, 2012, 2 comments

The Lord's Chips

"Did you not tell them they were the Lord's chips?"
"All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience' sake;for the earth is the Lord's,and all it contains.If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience' sake." 1 Corinthians 10:23-27 NASB

The Quote

After a tussle with Esteven (Esqueleto), Ignacio returns to the orphanage to serve porridge (or whatever) without chips. When questioned about the meal sans chips, he had to admit that they were stolen. Which brings us to the line above, as though it would have been a deterrent to the thief.

The Scripture

According to scripture, this quote is accurate. If the earth is the Lord's & everything that is within it, then it naturally follows that the chips are his as well. This, believe it or not, goes back to the argument made in the Talk of Holy Things post regarding the Sacred, Secular & Sin. To keep things short, everything is sacred for the believer.

This passage is commonly cited (among others) to promote Christian Liberty. That is to say, the fact that all things are lawful for Christian consumption. We have no need to worry about inherent evil in material things. Dietary restrictions have been lifted. Ceremonial laws no longer bind us. Those chips are holy because they are the Lord's. However, remember that  not all things are profitable. Those chips might go straight to your hips; in the same way there are some liberties that, when taken too far, may end up causing harm.

I suppose what we are trying to avoid here is legalism--the evil of taking what God has made clean & restricting access to it. Particularly with regard to foodstuff, there is no sin save the sin of gluttony (an unhealthy lust for food). God created food for pleasure & sustenance.

The Application

Think of some mundane aspect of your life. Have you ever considered that it belongs to the Lord? Have you considered that it may be a tool with the potential to tweak your relationship with God? Look at the world around you with fresh perspective. Perhaps these mundane aspects are the apparatus for spiritual reform.

More Reading

Monday, January 28, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Smile & Be Happy

"Orphans, smile and be happy."

 “Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother; and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another." Zechariah 7.9-10 NASB

The Quote

This line, delivered in an emotionless Mexican monotone, was delivered as lip service to the Orphans who truly have nothing to be happy about. They have no family. They have no individual attention. They have no good food or warm bed. They are being taken care of by a poor parish who can hardly provide them with the comforts of home.

They are urged to smile and be happy  because sister Encarnacion has joined the parish to minister to them. There is no enthusiasm. There is no love. The only individual who actually engages in dialog, service and play with the children is Ignacio, & he is seen as a useless individual by the brothers.

The Scripture

Scripture & God himself (the ultimate author of scripture) is very concerned with social justice. He constantly reminds His people to be conscious of the poor and care for the orphaned. He wants justice & mercy rather than sacrifice. Elijah decided to stay with and care for a widow. We are constantly reminded to beware lest we fawn over the seduction of riches. Don't believe me? Read the book of James.

Jesus loved to ratchet up the level of responsibility. He said if you hate your brother then you're a murderer. He said if you look at a woman with lust you've committed adultery. He also wrapped the poor, widowed, orphaned & alien into one large class of people: the least of these.

That person who is less privileged than you? He is your least of these. We can't tell them to keep warm without clothing them. We can't tell people to smile and be happy without providing some kind of fellowship with them. Our activities must match the words that come out of our mouths. If not, we are not following the Lord Jesus.

The Application 

Do you know people who are less privileged than you? Show them some compassion. Are you already showing compassion? Let them know how you are doing that. Tell them you are praying for them or that you love them. Step out of your circle & into theirs.

Remember that these principles are both spiritual & physical. Perhaps you know someone who is materially gifted yet spiritually impoverished. Care for them. Pray for them. Minister to them. You could have something to offer that will satisfy their greatest need.

You may find the blessings will come back to you.

More Reading

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

To Develop of a Religion

“You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.” 
John 9.28b-29 NASB


My Sunday School class wants to study the book of Exodus. In order to avoid a long, boring, drawn-out chapter study that goes on indefinitely, we decided to take a big-picture approach to the development of the book.

Exodus, as most of my readers may know, is the story of how the Children of Israel--through Moses--were delivered from Egypt. Most importantly for this study, however, is the fact that through these events, Judaism as a religion was refined.

Consider the quote from John 9. It is clear that the Pharisees looked to Moses as the original mouthpiece of God. They knew that Moses was vetted & proven to speak what God had delivered to him. Therefore, they clung to Moses' writings as gospel (so to speak).

The Dispensation

This makes sense since the so-called Dispensation they were in is the Dispensation of the Law/Mosaic Dispensation. The book of Exodus can be seen as a transitional period between Patriarchal Rule to the Law.

This transition can be plainly seen. The Israelite people go from practicing spirituality in the wilderness to following guidelines in a specific location. Read these examples, which take instances from the first 4 chapters and contrast them with the reality of how the people were to operate by the end of the book:

  • Midwives fearing God & acting on their moral instinct to save the babies (1.15-22) / Ten commandments given to explicitly prohibit murder.
  • The people groan about their burdens but do not direct prayer to God (2.23-25) / People given instructions on how to draw near to God.
  • Moses not recognizing the presence of God, the holiness of God or the consequence of drawing near when unclean (3.1-6) / Explicit instructions given for the construction of the tabernacle which includes a designated Holy place & rules for access.
  • The people worship God in their own primitive manner (4.31) / The people are given explicit rules 

The Point

There are many ways to dissect & apply a portion of scripture. I am certain that there are many ways to conduct a study of Exodus, this is only one way. The point of this study is order.

God is a God who wants things done decently and in order. And by the way, 1 Corinthians 14 is all about your behavior in the house of worship, so it works in harmony with this general theme. Structure in the Church is shunned in some of the circles of which I am a part (low-church). The term "Religion" carries a lot of baggage which it really shouldn't. God established a means to dispense his Grace upon us & we should embrace that.

Realize that Religion is not for the unbeliever. Why should people who do not know God want to learn how to please Him? Only those with a relationship with Him will have the desire to submit to His will. Conversion takes place outside of Religion, growth should take place inside.

More Reading

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Talk of Holy Things

"Go now! So that sister and I may talk of holy things."

"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3.16 NASB
 "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4.6  NASB

The Quote

It only seems right that we begin this study with the "talk of holy things" quote. In the scene, the head friar clearly uses the talk of holy things line as an excuse to get closer to a particularly attractive nun. He sends Ignacio (Nacho Libre's monastical identity) on a mission to pray for a man who is sick with influenza--though he mistakes him for dead. (Has this rabbit trail gone far enough? Watch the movie if you want to know what happens next!)

The Scripture

Clearly, as Christians we need to remember that we are accountable for the conversations we partake in. Our heart condition is reflected in our verbiage. We are reminded of this fact throughout the epistle to the Colossians.

During the recent Camp Horizon Football Tournament, Reggie Thayil presented a message that had been burdening his heart. He stressed the fact that it is wrong for Christians to fabricate secular & sacred activities. Our concern should be to separate the sacred from sin. In light of this teaching, we know that everything we say should be holy. All things should be holy & free of perversion.

The Application

That is not to say that everything we say is liturgical, monastic or otherwise ecclesiastical. But we speak genuinely from a heart that is genuine--not like that friar who uses holy things for a selfish motive. I suppose that's what I try to do with this blog. I will speak the truth as I have learned it. I will probably contradict myself as I learn and improve my understanding of scripture. And I truly hope that someone gains some benefit from the words I type in this web space.

More Reading

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Announcing: Nuggets of Nacho

As you may know from reading my Holy Things or Read Books blogs, I am an avid Nacho Libre fan. I love watching & quoting the movie with friends & it has been a source of inspiration for both of these blogs. I mean, seriously, just look at my color scheme!

Today, January 16 of the year 2013, I am announcing a weekly feature where I post a short devotional based on a Nacho Libre quote. I have been mulling this feature for about a year & a half now. I have compiled quotes that may be relevant. I have been challenged by an elder at my church to write these. And I am now taking the plunge.

These features will post every Thursday at 10 AM, EST. (I have friends in other time-zones that love Nacho as much as or possibly more than I do.) In fact, the first one is already composed and scheduled. I will tag each post with Nuggets of Nacho so you can find them easily. I warn you, at times I may think creatively through specific quotes. But I truly believe that if we take time to think things through on a spiritual level, even our silliness can hold profound truths. I pray that this journey is beneficial for everyone involved.

Help Me Out

Feel free to use the comments section of this or any Nuggets of Nacho post to give me your suggestions for a unique post. The posts will require a quote from the movie, scripture reference & application. Have at it & have fun!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Contrasting Perspective

Inspired by Matthew 27.11-36

Thoughts from the Lord's Supper

There's something beautiful about the kind of inspiration that comes from sitting silently through the Lord's Supper. The thoughts that come to your mind are influenced by the Holy Spirit, your own knowledge and the input from the believers throughout the meeting. I always leave the Lord's Supper with something, though it is rarely something large. But when it is, it is absolutely profound.

Scriptural Contrasts

My mind went to the obvious contrasts between the scene in Matthew 27 and the scenes in Revelation 4 & 16. Some of the more blatant contrasts are evil company vs. holy company, scarlet robe vs. robe dipped in blood, crown of thorns vs. royal diadem, mocking vs. worship, reed vs. iron scepter and beatings vs. bowing.

Other, more subtle contrasts can be found in the passages though. For instance, Jesus did not bear his own cross, but had Simon the Cyrenian carry it for him. While in the book of Revelation, the Lamb is the only one who is able to bear the burden. It was through submission that Christ defeated Sin, He was the only one who could do it.

In Pilate's court, Jesus stood on trial. In heaven, he is the judge of all things. Again in Pilate's court, Barabbas is deemed worthy of freedom while Jesus was condemned. In heaven, Jesus is worthy of praise because he has canceled out condemnation for all who believe.

Finally, we have Pilate's own actions as he washed his hands of the situation. He wanted nothing to do with the proceedings. He wanted to be clean of everything. We see Jesus as a Lamb that was freshly slain--white wool with a deep, wet crimson stain. He did not stand back--He thrust Himself into the center of the fray. And now, ironically, the only way to be truly clean is to identify yourself with Him. What Pilate did was the last thing he needed to do.

What he needed, & what we all need, is to have that blood cover us.

More Reading

Jesus Vision
The Lamb Turns the Tables
His Grapes Become Good Wine
New Mercy Seat

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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