The greatest man in history, named Jesus,
had no servants, yet they called Him Master.
Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.
Had no medicines, yet they called him Healer.
He had no army, yet kings feared Him.
He won no military battles, yet he conquered the world.
He committed no crime, yet they... crucified Him.
He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.
Began at 50: my first time reading the Bible straight through
I have always "read around" in the Bible, reading individual books, or a sub-set of books. I've read many books many times, but could not tell you with any confidence that I have read every book.
A while ago I started reading it from front to back, starting at Genesis 1. It is interesting how you get an entirely different perspective when you read it this way. The way the stories unfold, first flying over, then getting closer in and revealing more detail. It is incredibly beautiful how all the books fit together into a bigger whole. That aspect of it was a complete surprise to me.
It has been slow going, just a few chapters a week. I am now at Isaiah. I've always loved this book, but wow! what an amazing book when read as part of the sequence of the entire Jewish Testament narrative. I'm closing in on the NT books, and though I have read them many times over, I'm wondering if their message will have the same newness of perspective that Isaiah now has.
If you're like me, and you have never read the books of the bible straight through from the beginning, I HIGHLY recommend it. It can be difficult at times (the genealogy records, and the engineering descriptions of the temple, for example), but it is worth the effort. It is very different from reading a book, or a sub-set of books from within the whole. For me, the best way to deal with those many times my attention starts to wonder, is to simply put it down, and come back to it later when I'm ready to be fully engaged (hence, the slow going).
For those who, like me, have not yet done this; when you're ready to do it you will, and you will not be disappointed.
"All things work together for good to them that love God..." -Romans 8:28
All of creation is limitations. It would have been great if we had mental telepathy, for example. But mental telepathy wasn't in the design, so we learned other, more interesting ways to communicate.
In doing so, we discovered that those other ways we learned --to overcome the limitation and express ourselves-- have their own beautiful characteristics. Those beautiful characteristics would have been unimaginable, and completely hidden, if we had been "blessed" with telepathy, and were not limited in this way.
Consider... music, poetry, dance, paintings, and sculpture, as examples of things that would never have been.
Within every limitation there is some new, previously unseen and unknown thing to learn, and learn about. And with the learning, comes the purpose.
As sinners go, the guy who wrote this song was right up there with the worst of them. Amazing! Salvation... offered, and accepted, and the angels celebrate by giving us one of the best songs ever written. Sometimes it's not hard at all to know what's important to them.
It is not a will to do anything, except smoke cigarettes.
Or snort cocaine.
Or have sex with strangers.
Or any one of a hundred possible other: narrow, focused, behaviors.
These are little, shallow, fragmentary, wills.
The will we think of when we think of OUR will is much bigger, much more complex. It includes many intertwined desires, aspirations, goals, and actions.
It is, you could say, a more complete will.
. . . . . . . The small, fragmentary wills are separate and distinct from OUR will.
When they are in control, they deny the big will and control our actions. In other words, when acting according to these fragmentary wills, we often do things that are contrary to OUR will. For example, our will says: "I don't want to smoke", the will-fragment says: "I want to smoke".
When the English translation of the Bible refers to a perfect will, could the word "perfect" be referring to a Greek or Hebrew word that, at least partially, means: "complete"?
I have been trying to bring my dead, desert-like lawn back to life for the past three years AT LEAST. I've been down in there digging away for all of those springs, summers, and falls, and have never seen a single earthworm. They were conspicuous in their absence.
Today I was edging the curb side of the sidewalk, and I saw earthworms. Not just one either. Bunches of them, all up and down where I had edged.
I don't know why but this really hit me. Here it is, just a few days before Thanksgiving in the States, and I find myself filled with gratitude for... earthworms.
If you've convinced yourself that character is easy for you because you are a good man, you have convinced yourself of a lie. Character is like the water suddenly appearing in the glass when you begin to tip the pitcher. There is no cause and effect. It exists in immeasurable, timeless, instants; whether it is the instant you decide to risk your own life to help a brother in arms, or the instant you decide to hold your tongue when some dirt-ball (who you thought was your best bud) publicly disrespects your mother. Character's tests occur outside of time, but they occur all the time.