H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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The Buzz

Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Thursday, August 24, 2006
Abide in Love.
Who doesn't love Isaac from the love boat??Recall that after Christ had just fed some 5000 men and their families (a profound sign with thousands of first hand witnesses) that the crowd was so impressed and convinced that Christ was the coming King that they tried to physically take him by force and crown him right then and there.

Christ retreated to the mountain by himself, and his disciples got into a boat and crossed the sea going to Capernaum. Recall that Jesus later on that evening, well after the sun had gone down, crossed the sea by walking on the water. The wind had picked up and the waves were rough by the time Jesus was visible by the men in the boat, who by this time had been rowing for three or four miles trying to make it to the other side of the sea. They were understandably frightened, but after Christ entered the boat they found themselves immediately at shore in or very near Capernaum.

The next day, the same crowd that had been fed noticed that the disciple's boat was gone, and they also crossed the sea to Capernaum. They didn't know where Jesus was, and I expect they reasoned that wherever he was he would eventually come to his disciples - so it made sense for these thousands to cross to Capernaum in boats and what not.

That is quite a picture - the sun is just coming up - a crowd is gathered on the shore where only the day earlier they had found the prophet spoken of by Moses - a prophet who gave them bread to eat just as the Israelites had received manna from heaven in the wilderness. They were convinced that Jesus was the Prophet "like Moses" whom God would send - and if they wanted to make him their king the day before - the thought certainly was still strong in their minds - for as the morning sun broke the horizon, and the dew wet grass glistened there - thousands entered into their boats and a mass crossing of the sea to Capernaum ensued.

Scripture doesn't tell us that it happened at the crack of dawn, and I wouldn't die trying to defend the notion - but we do learn that when the crowd came to the other side they were amazed to find Christ already there - knowing that 1] Christ hadn't gone in the boat with the disciples, and 2] remembering the wind and waves of the previous night - no one would have imagined that Christ would have got into a boat by himself during that sort of weather and tried to cross by himself. This suggests to me that they understood that Christ hadn't crossed by boat at night. And if when the sun came up they saw no boat on the water, they would have reasoned that Christ wasn't traveling before them to get to the other side. Had they lingered on the shore there for half the day, I don't think many would have been amazed to find Christ on the other side - they would have assumed he must have left in the morning when no one was looking.

So when I picture this small fishing boat armada crossing at the break of day, and finding Christ on the other side to their own amazement - it only added to their conviction that Christ was indeed the Prophet - the Messiah.

But Christ set them straight at once - they weren't seeking the Messiah because they wanted to get right with God - they were seeking the Messiah because having eaten the bread without working for it, they reasoned that the Messiah could make their life a whole lot easier. They were seeking the Messiah as a tool to make their life more comfortable - their seeking was selfish, and Christ set them straight:
Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal. - John 6:26-27 [ESV]
Christ saw right through their selfishness straight to their corrupt hearts, yet even though he revealed the true nature of their heart, yet he did not fail to point them in the direction they should be going.

They were right on the one hand to pursue the Messiah - a pursuit that is described here as a labor or work - but they were laboring after the Messiah in order to generate ease for themselves. Christ said, if you are going to labor, labor for something worthwhile - eternal life.

That got their attention I think, because the next thing they ask is what "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" [ESV] Predictably, they were quite interested in attaining eternal life. So much so that they inquired about what they should do to get it. If they were to labor after the food that doesn't perish, they wanted to know what that labor looked like.

Christ's answer, I am certain, confused a great many of them.
This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent - John 6-29 [ESV]
If I were a movie director filming this scene, I would have everyone all chatty until Christ says this, then I would pan around into the resulting silence to catch the perplexed, open jawed stares, the slow stirring of the crowd as they begin to turn one to one another to see if the guy beside them understood.

In John 15 we get another glimpse of the same concept, worded differently. "Abide in my love" - John articulates the connection in 1 John 3:14, and 4:16 where we read, "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death." [ESV] and again, "So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" [ESV]

To believe in Christ is to believe in love. Not that romantic, cinematic pabulum that is nothing more than infatuation dressed up for the prom - but that 1 Corinthians 13 sort of love - the kind that expects nothing in return. Believing in Christ is believing that God really does love you, not because you are worthy, but because true love looks like that - and God -is- love.

I am inclined to agree with John, anyone who doesn't abide in God's love, doesn't abide in Christ.

Now, if God loves us like that - unconditionally, and if we are "in Christ" - ought we not to love like that ourselves? Of course we ought, and scripture tells us that it is through God's love that we are able to love. "We love him, because he first loved us."

Truly, I believe that as long as I hold out some little love for myself, I cannot love others fully. As long as squirrel away some part of me to pamper and keep - I cannot give myself utterly for others. So long as I live, Christ cannot live in me.

The equation is quite simple really, if you don't go down into the tomb and die, we are hardly going to walk in newness of life, because the power that raised Christ from the dead did so after He was dead and entombed, and not (as it were) while he was in agony on the cross. He had to die first, and so do we. As long as we hold onto our lives - cherishing and loving them, our death throes serve only to postpone the life of Christ in us.

The message of the cross is that we cannot love others and ourselves at the same time. We cannot live for God while we are trying to secure our own status with God - we have to set aside the mindset that tries to get to God through human effort, through prayer, through bible reading, through ministry, through church activity - and rest in the love of God, that love that is described as being patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not irritated or resentful, a love that bears -all- our failures without rudeness or arrogance - a love that isn't withheld until it receives love in kind - a love that by its very nature cannot be earned. When we begin to abide in this same love of God - to trust that God really does love like that - and that he really loves -us- like that - right now and in every moment - God makes a lot of promises for people who are willing to stop trying to earn his favor, but who are willing to accept it as children accept the love of their own parents.

Abiding in Christ, abiding in love, walking in the light, walking in the Spirit, letting the message of Christ dwell in me richly, being crucified with Christ, reckoning myself dead indeed to sin - all these things are one and the same in my mind. They describe that poverty of spirit that God commands his blessings towards. They describe the Christian experience, and what it is supposed to be.

Today, if you find yourself dry spiritually speaking, let me tell you - the problem is that you are relying on your own strength and ability to cross the Jordan - and it can't be done. You must trust that God has done it, and done it all. You must abide in what God has already done. Simply abide in it. God did it already, all your efforts are useless - because no man can come to God except that God draws him. What must I do to be "drawn by God" - believe in Christ, abide in God's love.

If your mind is set on the reality of that love that God truly has for you - you will find it very difficult to be unloving towards others. That is where it starts.
posted by Daniel @ 9:07 AM  
  • At 7:45 PM, August 24, 2006, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said…

    How could I not read that post with that picture there?! Oh, and the message was good too.

  • At 8:47 PM, August 24, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    (said with a lounge singer drawl)

    the Luuuuuuuuvvvv boat.....

    My wife read this, 'cause we just went out and she was talking this same kind of thing, so I told her she really needed to see this post. She thought it was spot on...

  • At 8:16 AM, August 25, 2006, Blogger marc said…

    I love you man!

  • At 8:41 AM, August 25, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Marc ~ I know. You have to. hehe.

    Jonathan I was looking for a picture that screamed "Love" - and that was the best I got. ;-) Nostalgia is a draw.

    JD - I am glad it found some use. By yesterday evening, seeing no replies, I thought maybe it was a dud.

  • At 9:13 AM, August 25, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Yeah, I know what you mean. But sometimes our best posts are the one's that don't get the comments; they hit home, cause reflection, repentance, etc., and well, they just hit the mark.

    They say what others might have said also, so no one has much to say, seeing that we don't have the plethora of fanboi as others do.

    Your stuff is great...to God be the glory...

    BTW, what's the status of that church in Alberta?

  • At 9:17 AM, August 25, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I will email you JD.

  • At 12:52 PM, August 25, 2006, Blogger Todd Saunders said…

    Hey, Daniel, I'm glad I stopped by today (I don't get to much). Nice relections.

  • At 12:15 AM, August 28, 2006, Blogger Pecadillo said…

    I love everything about that picture.

  • At 7:59 AM, August 28, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Pec - you are obviously a man who is well in tune with a proper respect for campiness.

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