Thursday, July 31, 2014

July's Popular Posts

Here's another edition of WTHT's monthly digest of popular items. This blog has been viewed over 3400 times in the past month, and I thank you for reading. Enjoy!

July Posts

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments, 134 views
  2. The Great Divorce: Book Review
    Jul 10, 2014, 60 views
  3. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013, 55 views
  4. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012, 44 views
  5. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments, 36 views

All-Time Posts

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate
    Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments, 5,453 views
  2. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review
    May 1, 2013, 1896 views
  3. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!)
    Nov 1, 2012, 1452 views
  4. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer
    Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments, 1294 views
  5. Luther, Lewis & My Sunday School Teacher
    Dec 21, 2012, 448 views

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mary Knows IV - The Resurrection

Don't give up, keep seeking.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

Good Friday

Who is your best friend? Who is that guy you can't wait to see during the day and hang out with in the evenings? That guy who always has a timely joke or comment that sends you into hysterics? Imagine that in an instant this guy disappears from your life. He is gone and you are convinced you will never see him again.

Who is your mentor? To whom do you field your deepest, darkest questions? Whose opinion do you treasure the most? When your little ship of life feels tossed to and fro, who is the horizon you look at to settle your stomach? Imagine that in an instant this rock falls through to the other side. He is gone and you are convinced you will never see him again.

Who is the love of your life? Who is the person you would die for and you are convinced would lay down their life for you? Who is that individual who verbalizes their love every morning and evening and backs it up throughout the day and night with their actions? Imagine that in an instant he passes away. He is gone and you are convinced you will never see him again.

What if these friends, mentors, lovers were rolled up into one person. This one person would mean so very much that the hole they leave in your life would rip at the very fabric of your existence. You would become a shadow-man—a ghost—incapable of normal human interactions like fixing breakfast or tying your shoes.

This happened. It happened to the disciples.

Everyone has felt the pain of funeral services. The pain of losing someone you love. Death is the inevitable end of life. The disciples left their occupations for Jesus. They left their homes for Jesus. They left their familiar surroundings for Jesus. They left their former lives and built new ones centered around Jesus. Now Jesus is gone.

Consider Mary. She takes things a step further. She was the first to know about Jesus. She was the first to feel Jesus flutter in her womb. She has been meditating on Jesus her whole life. Every thing he said and did was inspiration to her. She saw him meet a final end—no matter what Jesus said about his own fate, a crucifixion will always seem like a final event. Simon's prediction comes true, a sword has pierced Mary's soul in a way that no other human could feel. Doubtless, she enjoyed unique privileges as the mother of God, but she also tasted a more bitter flavor of of what we now know as Good Friday.

The Resurrection

But that is not the end of the story. We know Jesus was laid in a tomb. We know the tomb was heavily guarded by war/riot-hardened Roman soldiers. We also know that a group of women went to visit that same tomb and noticed that the supposed dead man was not inside. In fact, he was very much alive! That lost cornerstone of life has been restored. Not only restored, but glorified in a way that exceeds his previous existence. In a way, Jesus was much more alive after the resurrection than he was before he died—his work is now complete.

The cumbersome depression has been overturned by a double-portion of relief. Cries of mourning are replaced by more voluminous shouts of joy. The women, yes Mary too, are now privileged with the news of the resurrected Christ. They report back to the apostles.

They need to see it to believe it.

It seemed like nonsense to them. They couldn't understand it. I'm not sure that the women fully understood it either. They just knew it to be true. They were just doing as they were told. It was the only explanation that makes any sense. How could someone steal a body that was guarded by Roman soldiers? Why would angels, quoting Jesus' own words, deceive them? The truth can be incredible at times.


The key resolution to the resurrection account comes at the end of the chapter:
[Jesus] said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 
Luke 24:44, 45
During the course of this four-part investigation of Mary's experiences with Jesus of Nazareth, we have seen her strive to understand the things that God was doing in her life. Rest assured that God works in your life as well. Also know that God honors honest inquiry and will reward an honest seeker by allowing them to find.

There are some things that are beyond our understanding. We have already mentioned that even though we can't comprehend some truth, we can always treasure it. However, know that one day these intricacies will be exposed. The mysteries will be revealed. Scripture says that we see darkly as through a mirror, but one day we will know as we are known. Christ will one day do for us what he did for the disciples, he will open our minds and we will understand the scriptures.

I do not mean to sound trite, which happens all too often in discussions of this topic. We say, Well, one day we'll understand this. We then stop trying to understand it today. We think we are relying on God to reveal it when what we are actually doing is giving up on the search for truth. Do not give up, keep seeking.

The fact that God will reveal it to us should be an encouragement to continue learning and not an excuse to stop learning. Let us faithfully pursue truth. Rest assured that we serve a living savior who is actively involved in our spiritual development. He will bring all things full-circle.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mary Knows III - The Temple

How will we react when our assumptions 
are turned upside-down by Christ's words?
...they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
Luke 2:46-51


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

The Temple

This portion recounts the well-known incident which occurred when Jesus was twelve years old. It is a window into his childhood. Imagine the astonishing things that Mary and Joseph beheld as Jesus grew up. Imagine their shock as they observe the differences between Jesus and his siblings. It must have been an incredible experience. It may have also been terrifying.

We know that they were making their annual family trip to Jerusalem for Passover (v. 41). On the way back, Mary and Joseph realize that their assumption was incorrect; Jesus was not in their caravan. He had been left behind. Or he had intentionally stayed behind, as the case may be.

Notice the role that understanding places in this narrative. It serves as the catalyst for all the action and reaction in this account. Jesus' understanding was on full display and he left the people amazed. Mary and Joseph's lack of understanding was also on display and they were filled with anxiety. Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was lost when all the while he was home. Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was mistreating them, but he was busy treating others to his understanding. Mary and Joseph thought they were doing their parental duty, but Jesus was with his Father the whole time.

These are not the only reversals in the passage. Remember The Annunciation, when Mary submitted herself to God's will. Here, Jesus subjects himself to his parent's lead and goes to Nazareth despite his proclamation that he was already at home. Surely, this reversal must have struck a chord within Mary's heart. Verse 51 tells us that much. How many times did Jesus' words and actions produce a rebuke in Mary's heart? I imagine there were countless instances which Mary treasured. Did she understand everything as it was going on? Assuredly not. But she treasured these experiences, sometimes that's all we can do.


I see rebuke in this passage. Not a harsh, abrasive rebuke, but a gentle, loving one. Jesus does not resist his parents. Jesus just does his thing and lets his parents experience his truth. Isn't that how Jesus works today? Does he not move subtly in our lives, letting us know where we err without making us feel stupid or inadequate?

Once we are given the necessary information, it is up to us to make the decision. Are we going to submit to his will, or are we going to ask him to submit to ours? He will not force us to obey, he asks us to be willing to obey. Sometimes, as we strive for understanding we learn some things that we cannot unlearn. We will be forced to make difficult decisions. We may be rebuked. It simply goes with the territory.

In the end, Mary reacts to this incident the same way she reacted to The Advent—she treasures it. She holds on to it like a precious jewel. How will we react when God's way is contrary to our way? How will we react when our logic contradicts divine logic? How will we react when our assumptions are turned upside-down by Christ's words? Will you treasure it? Or will you look for an interpretation that suits your lifestyle? Will I outright reject God's word or, worse, cram it into my own perception of good Christian behavior?

God help us as we seek to know him more. There are going to be difficult times when our lifestyles will be challenged. May we truly treasure God's word even when it is an inconvenient truth.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mary Knows II: The Advent

"Do not let the things you don't know
cloud what you have already attained."
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
Luke 2:15-19


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

The Advent

It is done! The mystery has been revealed. Emmanuel truly is with us now. The foretold birth of Jesus has finally come to fruition. Angels announced his coming. Shepherds have come to visit a savior, calling him "Christ" and "Lord." Those things that Gabriel announced to Mary in private are now being fulfilled in public spaces. What is Mary's reaction?

All who heard wondered. I imagine Mary wondered as well. Was she in a state of shock? Was she left speechless? Did she tell anybody about her experience with the angel Gabriel? She surely didn't run out to the countryside and inform a bunch of shepherds. All this was validation of the angel's tidings&mdashit was proof! He did not lie. These things happened.

But how can these things be? Mary clearly saw that these things are so, but how can it be so? She is still pondering these truths in her heart. But she does not know the mechanics of how these things are so. How does she raise the son of God? What is life going to be like with God sharing the same roof with her? She sees in the flesh The Entity that her people have worshipped since Abraham. How can it be?

Notice that she still does not have the answers. One does not "wonder" at and "ponder" an occurrence while understanding it fully. One is left awestruck at things that are greater than they can comprehend. This is Mary at The Advent, the physical coming of God into his world. This should also be our reaction to The Advent—humble, grateful, awe.

Notice Mary's third reaction: she treasured all these things. Just because certain elements were beyond her comprehension, she was still appreciative. She was still grateful. She could still treasure the truth that has been revealed to her while stretching to grasp greater understanding.


Are you discouraged with the things you do not know? Then be content with the things you do understand. Revel in the joy of what God has revealed to you. Treasure it. Place it in a safe place. Return to it when you need encouragement. Return to it when you have doubt. Return to it when expanding your knowledge base. Do not let the things you don't know cloud what you have already attained.

The converse is also true. Don't be so content with your current knowledge base that you do not try to expand your understanding. Mary continued to ponder even while treasuring the things she had. Let us also keep a right balance between striving for progress and protecting that which we know. These two elements are not mutually exclusive, rather, they should coordinate with each other as we run the race of our spiritual lives.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mary Knows I: The Annunciation

God not only tolerates inquiry, He welcomes it.
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the [descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
Luke 1:26-29


This is a 4-part study on Mary's reaction to the wonder of The Incarnation. Mary is a singularly unique character in scripture. She was chosen to be the carrier of Emmanuel—God with us. While others have been given special endowment to conceive and give birth, only Mary carried God. Her reaction to the situation she finds herself in is fascinating.

The Annunciation

Mary goes about her normal routine on a seemingly normal day. Was she tending to her chores in her father's house? Was she fetching water? Maybe she was preparing or her rapidly approaching nuptuals. We do not know what she was doing. We only know that God's alarm clock rang out and it was time for him to make his move. Suddenly, an angel appears to her and delivers great news to her. At least, Gabriel interprets this news as great.

It appears Mary doesn't take this news with a leap of joy. Scripture says she is perplexed. What do you mean, 'The Lord is with me?' The angel will even go so far as to beg her not to be afraid. God sends news of blessing, joy, honor, and glory that is not just gospel for Mary, but also for the entire universe. But to Mary's ears, it is a word of terror. This is so new, so strange, so impossible, Why would I be favored in God's eyes?

This leads to the next statement: she ponders. She takes the words of the angel as sent from God and meditates on them. What could they mean, do they stand up to reason? Mary, if nothing else, internalizes her every experience with Christ, from the annunciation to the resurrection. She thinks and thinks and thinks. Then she gets more information and thinks about it some more. She asks poignant, relevant questions. She tries to rationalize the things of God. She longs to see the fulfillment with her human eyes.

When she has all the information and has reached the end of her mental faculties, she makes a very important decision; she places herself in God's hands and submits to his will. She does not receive a revelation. She does not have a mental breakthrough or a Eureka! moment. She simply comes to the end of rationale and decides to trust the One with all the answers, even if he is not giving away the answer key just yet.


Mary, during The Annunciation, is a study on reason. Clearly, she is caught by surprise and wants to understand what is happening. However, she is not armed with the hindsight that we are privileged to have. She illustrates the virtue of using your mind to try and comprehend heavenly things. God wants to reveal himself, we should want to understand him.

Growing up, I assumed that God frowns on questions. I assumed, wrongly, that God is not open to honest inquiry. I equated questions with unbelief and skepticism with weakness. However, it is clear from this instance (and others) that God not only tolerates inquiry, he welcomes it.

Obviously, God as an omniscient being knows the intents of the heart. He is able to tell if the question springs from unbelief or from honesty. He will always honor honest questions, though sometimes holds the answers just beyond reach. Sometimes that is just part of the learning process. Sometimes, the answer is just beyond what you can handle now and need to develop more. This happens in natural life, it also happens in spiritual life.

Do not be discouraged when you find yourself confused and unsure of the answers. This is part of the growth process. Know that sometimes you just have to trust that the things you know still hold true and submit your future into the hands of the God who made the answer key.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Great Divorce: Book Review

The Book

The Great Divorce
C. S. Lewis

I purchased this piece a while back as part of C. S. Lewis' Signature Classics collection. It includes many of the other Lewis works reviewed on this blog. Personally, I believe in reading a Lewis classic (not limited to the signature ones) every third book or so. (OK, maybe I'm kidding a little here. But seriously, work some C. S. Lewis into your reading schedule. You'll be glad you did.)

Technical Merit

The Great Divorce is a 160 page allegory. As an allegory, it is a thinly veiled sermon on an outwardly biblical topic. As such, it is hampered by some of the limitations to which all allegories are subjected. Since the author has an agenda, he is not free to explore the story for it's own sake—the moral is king in the story. Technically, this tendency hamstrings the story. This is why I do not feel that the Chronicles of Narnia are allegorical, though they clearly bear Christian influences. But I suppose that's not a discussion for this book review.

Compared to other, more famous, allegories like Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Spenser's Faere Queene, Lewis' The Great Divorce reads very smoothly and smartly. I have given this book 4 out of five stars because the story at times becomes stagnant as the main character (Lewis himself) moves from scene to scene to make his points.

The Review

The premise of the story is as follows:
  • Lewis joins a group of people on a bus ride.
  • The bus ride leads from his current existence to the gateway to heaven.
  • The citizens are faced with the choice to either give up their baggage and go to heaven or keep their baggage and return to hell.
  • Lewis meets up with George MacDonald who helps him understand the conversations going on around him. These conversations serve as the catalyst for theological introspection.
First off, this story is just that: a story. Lewis does not claim an out of body experience or other form of shenanigans to validate this tale. He is not suggesting there is a real bus that transports man from hell to heaven. He is not suggesting that hell is not a real place. He is not suggesting anything about the literal realness or mythological sense of any of these things. He is more concerned with the fact that there are certain things that must be dealt with before one may pass from hell into heaven. If one is not willing to give up these things, then there is no way that they are going to be able to mare the transition. It's all about submitting to God's will. Consider this famous quote:
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.
Image from We Talk of Holy Things--on Facebook 
This encapsulates the marvel of free-choice. We are free to choose God's way or our own ways. We are also free to live with the consequences. Why does God send people to hell? The answer is, quite simply, He doesn't. People choose hell.

One of the most interesting scenes in the book has to do with the mother who longs to see her son again. She is not allowed into heaven because her love was a self-gratifying love instead of a pure, sacrificial love for her child. In the end, her perverted love had replaced the "older" and "closer" love that God has for His creation. At this point, Lewis explores the following idea from the fictional mouth of George MacDonald:
There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him. And the higher and mightier it is in the natural order, the more demoniac it will be if it rebels. It's not out of bad mice or bad fleas you make demons, but of bad archangels. The false religion of lust is baser than the false religion of mother-love or patriotism or art: but lust is less likely to be made into a religion.
The sinister sins are the ones that can be mistaken for virtue. Lust, murder and theft are rarely put on a pedestal and worshiped, but love has always been and will continue to be worshiped as a god. A child molester is forever marked and shunned, but the love worshiper who only loves out of selfish ambition is never detected and fools himself into thinking he is good.


As with all C. S. Lewis works, I heartily recommend that everyone add this book to their reading list. This work is mostly speculative and fixated on the main point that we all must submit to God's will or else never enter the gates of heaven. This is an important lesson for everyone to learn.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top 5 June Posts

Another month passes by

While June was not quite as successful as May in terms of page views, we still saw over 3,000 visits here on WTHT. Thanks for reading! Here are the things that interested my readers, maybe you'll find something interesting in these lists. Let me know what you're thinking in the comments section!

June Posts

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate (Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments - 270 views)
  2. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer (Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments - 71 views)
  3. Turn the Other Cheek: A few #BTSermon notes (Sep 20, 2013, 1 comment - 49 views)
  4. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!) (Nov 1, 2012 - 32 views)
  5. A critical examination of the YA fiction written b... (Dec 23, 2013 - 31 views)

All Time Posts

  1. 300th Post: Reflection in triplicate (Jun 17, 2013, 2 comments - 5318 views)
  2. The Ragamuffin Gospel: A Book Review (May 1, 2013 - 1900 views)
  3. Elijah & the Double Portion (First Guest!) (Nov 1, 2012 - 1482 views)
  4. Inerrancy vs Infallibility: A Theological Primer (Mar 6, 2013, 2 comments - 1260 views)
  5. Thorn of Humanity IV: Nightingale & the Rose (Sep 19, 2012 - 446 views)
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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