Flesh and Blood Has Not Revealed This To You

Yesterday, driving back from camp, my 11-year-old disciple was recounting how his group was allowed to choose between adult–led group bible study or self–directed quiet time in God’s word. His group selected quiet time. At some point early in the week, as he was passing through the camp, he found a small piece of paper on the ground that categorized the bible by literature types: Law, History, Wisdom, Poetry, Gospel, Epistles, Prophecy, and Apocalyptic Literature.

Now he and I have been going through this together since he was a small child, but you never know when these things will start to make sense and they will own them themselves. As he contemplated what he wanted to read, he selected the minor prophets (one of my favorite sections of all scripture). When I asked him about anything he may have learned, he said, did you know that if you read these books of prophecy, you can look forward into the books of history and see where they came true.

I asked, can you give me an example?

He said, “the most obvious one was in Zechariah where it talks about a king coming on a donkey; that,” he said, “came true when Jesus rode into Jerusalem as told in all four Gospels (Mark 11:1–11, Matthew 21:1–11, Luke 19:28–44, and John 12:12–19), those are the books of history that show it.”

I asked, to clarify, “was this something someone was leading you through? …did your camp counselor teach you this?”

He said, “No, it was just obvious when I read the minor prophet books.” He then said excitedly, “… and there are others!”

I have seen this on many occasions when people are equipped to study God’s word, in order to know Him and follow Him, they often encounter the living God in their study, who reveals truth to them.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
(Matthew 16:15-17 ESV)

Brothers and sisters, this is why we are instructed to teach our children, to disciple them, so that when God speaks, they have ears to hear him.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

(Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV)

Keeping Short Accounts: The Ministry of Reconciliation

Honoré de Balzac's Melmoth reconciled
Keeping Short Accounts Makes the Process of Reconciliation Easier

One theme that recurs in our household is the process of reconciliation. At the end of any transaction should be the process of reconciliation. It is an accounting to completion. What I mean by that is for any transaction or interaction to come to a close, there needs to be an accounting for what is transacted (interacted) and payment or restitution made.

Today an ugly interaction occurred between two members of my household. One left for the bed room, smoldering and diverting attention by reading, the other was folding laundry, regretting and smarting from the damaging interaction. In the end, what was needed to bring them together was reconciliation. I explained to my apprentice the concept of transaction reconciliation.

I gave an example of a shop keeper and a customer reconciling accounts at the end of the month, with the items of the transaction evened out through agreed accounting and final payment. I explained that when one party is injured in a confrontation, there is payment due. That payment is confession in admission and seeking of forgiveness, which is where the reconciliation happens. I am happy to say that the transaction occurred and both reconciled to good relations immediately after our conversation.

The conversation continued around the concept of keeping short accounts with each other and God, meaning that if in the example,  the shop keeper and the customer wait to long between reconciliations, some things are forgotten and or relations are damaged and mistrust ensues. Keeping a short account of our sins with God makes it easier to keep a good relationship with Him, wherein we can hear from Him clearly through His holy spirit daily, hour by hour.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV)

A Jostled Vessel

Whatever you are overflowing with will spill out

This past weekend, I was talking to my apprentice about character and the great potential it brings, if we were truly surrendered to God. Surrendered as if we were empty vessels. I used vessels in the sense that we have capacity to be poured into and then poured out. Imperfect vessels as we are, without holes (in our faith and character), can contain blessings to God and others, in a way that we can daily be poured out as a drink offereing.

Listening this morning to Ravi Zacharias—one of a few men who’s lives I follow, learning from their faith, wisdom and character—he told a story about a tumultuous time in his family growing up in India. As a part of this story, relating his mothers character, he quoted this part of an Indian proverb:

“Whatever you are overflowing with will spill out”

Easy to understand, right? The little boy in the carpenters’ workshop (pictured) appears to be moving cautiously with a filled vessel (bowl) that serves some purpose (poured or somehow discharged to use) in the shop. If his father or master (pictured) were to back up as the boy went behind, he might bump into him, jostling his hands and potentially causing the bowls contents to spill. The question is, if that bowl is us, what spills out?

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-18; Ephesians 3:19 ESV)

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
(2 Timothy 2:20-21 ESV)

“…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
(Matthew 12:34-37)

Skipping Steps

Maintaining Tools
Maintaining Tools

As I walk through my own journey, trying to yield to God’s Holy Spirit, I am seeing in me the self-determined man trying to contend with all that is in my path. In this contention, I am still confounded by the realization that as I gather my tools around me to tutor my apprentice, I myself have adopted shortcuts and methods that are not the signs of a master craftsman.

As I train my student, I am keenly mindful that I must not only avoid illustrating to him the shortcuts, but warn him against adopting them as well.

This is no clearer to me that in the process of making decisions. I have come to realize that I sometimes rely on accumulated wisdom and forgo an important step in the process of decision making; that step is asking my master for help.

I must stay conditioned to asking God for His assistance and insight as I ponder the simple to the complex. Why do I not do this as much as I should? I don’t know really, other than being self–determined and too impetuous—oh, and a sinner.

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:6-11 ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21 ESV)

Note to self: Sharpen your tools, hammer out defects, reexamine your methods and definitely pray before your next lesson to your apprentice.

The Disciples’ Apprentice

A medieval baker with his apprentice.
A medieval baker with his apprentice.

Since the news came in 1999 that I would be a father, increasingly as the birth day loomed, I began to soberly consider the responsibility that lay before me. Raise a modern day disciple of Jesus.

As a follower of Christ, I knew the responsibility that was expected of me; however, I was not prepared and mostly unsure, outside of scripture, where to find the real guidance I would need.  After all, isn’t it important that I am prepared to show my son by example the ability that he is to master?

Represented here is the collection of thoughts and practices as I lead my son into and through what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, the saviour of his soul.

“…make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)