Friday, February 28, 2014

The Prescience of Palin on President Obama's "Flexible" Leadership

As Russia invaded Ukraine, Governor Palin posted the following on her Facebook page. That's right; Prescient Palin strikes again!

During the 2008 election, Governor Palin was mocked for postulating that Russia may invade Ukraine if then Senator Obama was elected. As Tony Lee at Breitbart noted, during the 2008 election, some in the media called Palin's scenario "far-fetched". In reality, Governor Palin has proven prescient, almost clairvoyant, on many occasions from death panels to the Arab Spring to rare earth metals to quantitative easing to common core.  Just to name a few.

 There is  a sense of vindication when a woman so mocked by the media and the establishment's of both parties is proven right time and time again.  There is also a sense of a frustration and sadness that such a great nation lacks the leadership it needs. A Russia bold enough to invade Ukraine can only do so because of a vacuum of leadership in America. President Reagan famously won the Cold War with the USSR without firing a single shot because of his principled and strong leadership, not  "flexible" leadership that declares "happy hour" when the world is in chaos.

 Crossposted here, here, and here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014:Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion

In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words humility and compassion.

Humility (or Humble/Humbly)

Humility, in my humble opinion (pun intended), is an often misunderstood concept. Too often humility is perceived to be an attitude of self-debasement. The Scriptures seem to indicate, however, that humility really is recognizing our need for powerful, benevolent God and acting in such a way that we put others before ourselves. C.S. Lewis, I think, summarized it well when he said, "humility is not thinking less of yourself'; it is think of yourself less".

In the Old Testament, it is amazing to me how the Psalmists and Solomon in the book of Proverbs indicate what God does for those who humbly recognize who they are in comparison to God:
  • Psalm 18:27-"You [God] save the humble"
  • Psalm 25:9-"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way"
  • Psalm 147:6- "The Lord sustains the humble"
  • Psalm 149:4-"He crowns the humble with salvation"
  • Proverbs 3:34-"He mocks the proud mockers but gives grace to the humble"
  • Proverbs 11:2- "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom"
Although I did not share the complete verses in each of the above, most of them describe the contrast between pride and humility, which is important. God spiritually provides for those who yield to Him.

In the New Testament, the use of the words humility or humble is often a translation of the Greek word tapeinophrosynÄ“ or some variant of that word which provides a better picture of the concept of humility than simply the word humility. In Strong's Concordance,  this Greek word is defined as a "deep sense of one's [moral] littleness". If we are able to understand this and make this our attitude, it will influence how we  treat others.

While many of the verses in the Old Testament about humility note what God does for the humble, many of the verse in the New Testament about humility note how we live out humility in our own lives. In two verses, Colossians 3:12 and 1 Peter 5:5,  Paul and Peter both note how we are to clothe ourselves with humility--making that attitude part of our identity in Christ. The most challenging verse on humility to me, though, comes from Philippians 2, when Paul gives the ultimate example of humility-- Christ lowering himself to live life as a man and die on the cross for our sins. Christ has no littleness; He is the Son of God. He was willing, though, to take on that "littleness" because of His love for us. What a challenge to us to take on our own littleness and live humbly.


One of the most striking things about the word compassion in Scripture is that during the time in history when Scripture was written, people thought that such attitude/emotion-fueled action emanated from one's bowels or womb. One words in Hebrew translated to compassion in the Old Testament is "racham", meaning "womb" or "compassion", and one of the words in Greek is "splagchnizomai" meaning "to be moved as to one's bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity)". Perhaps this sounds a bit gross and ignorant in light of today's understanding of biology and emotion, but at the same time, it is indicative of how deep our compassion should be.

In Psalm 103, David  beautifully describes God's compassion for us throughout the Psalm. In verse 4, David not only notes how God saves us from the pit, He crowns us with compassion. He not only saves us from destruction, he treats us as royalty.  In verse 8, David ties God's compassion to His grace, love, and patience. In verse 13, David writes of God's compassion for us in the context of a father's compassion.

In the book of Matthew, he notes multiple times that Jesus "had compassion" on the crowds and the sick. Compassion was not just an emotion. Jesus lived it. When He had compassion on the crowds who came to hear Him speak He fed them (Matthew 14:13-21). When He had compassion on the sick; He healed them (Matthew 20:29-34). This is the same kind of compassion we are to clothe ourselves (Colossians 3:12) with and live out in our lives (Ephesians 4:32).

Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

 Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014: Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words perseverance and works.


Interestingly, at least in the NIV, the word perseverance or any derivative of the word is only found in the New Testament. However, one of the most striking uses refers back to the Old Testament heroes who themselves persevered with faith. The designations of chapters and verses in the Bible were not found in the original text of Scripture, so there were not distinctions between Hebrews 11 and Hebrews 12. Hebrews 11 is often noted to be the "Hall of Faith" where the writer of Hebrews highlights the faithfulness of many--from Abel to the prophets. The first verse of Hebrews 12 then reads:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
That great cloud of witness are the men and women of faith referenced in the previous chapter. They are cheering us on in this race that we are to run with perseverance. I've read this verse dozens and dozens of time throughout my life. I even wrote it on the back of my hand the first time I ran a half marathon for motivation. However, something hit me differently this time. Previously I had read the verse that we must persevere through the entanglements of life and our sin, but the verse reads that we must get rid of those entanglements first, then we can persevere. We can do this because of the examples of those great clouds of witnesses referenced in Hebrews 11--witnesses that include a prostitute like Rahab and a doubter like Gideon--men and women who were themselves imperfect yet showed faith.

The study of perseverance also showed me that Paul, Peter, and James all characterized perseverance as a part of a process of maturing in our faith...and often occurs alongside trials and sufferings. Look at these three verses written by these men of faith. It is a process:
Paul in Romans 5:3-4: 
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope." 
James in James 1:3-4: 
"because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Peter in 2 Peter 1:5-7: 
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.

In my study I focused on works primarily as a noun, rather than a verb. The idea of doing "works" or deeds has been the subject of much debate--even church splits-- throughout Christian history. We all seem to fall somewhere along the spectrum of thinking we can work our way to grace to thinking that we don't necessarily need to exhibit our faith demonstrably because of God's grace.

"Works" translated from the original Hebrew or Greek in the Bible is often translated from two separate concepts of works. One of these concepts of works is in the sense of extraordinary works, miracles, or wonders. This is "pala" in Hebrews or "dynamis" in Greek. David often used the word "pala" in the Psalms to describe the works of God, including in Psalm 139:14 when he notes that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made". Similarly, the word "dynamis" is often used in the Gospels to detail Jesus' miracles, but the later books also use that Greek word to describe the way that God's power works in our lives through His Holy Spirit.

The other concept of "works" is in our occupation, work, or business. In Hebrew this is the word "melakah" and in Greek it is "ergon". When Moses wrote about God's creation of the world, he used the word "melakah".  When the Scripture mentions the Israelites building the tabernacle or temple, that is the word that is used. In the New Testament, "ergon" is used extensively, often translated as either "works" or "deeds". When Paul talks about being saved by grace through faith not by works, especially in the book of Romans, "ergon" is the word he uses. We cannot work to receive His grace; He gives it freely. What, then, are we to do? What about those works that "God prepared in advance for us to do", as Paul writes about in Ephesians 2?

Think about a role in your life that you may be passionate about--be it within your family or your career even-- a role as a wife, husband, mom, dad, aunt, teacher, health care researcher, or whatever it may be. A mom does not love her children--change their diapers, feed them, clothe them, etc-- to earn the "title" of mom. She is a mom, so she does those things for her children because she loves them.  A teacher who is passionate about her job doesn't spend extra time preparing lesson or tutoring students so that she earns the title of teacher, but because she is a teacher, she does those things. Why is it different for our faith? We do those "good deeds" not to earn the title of "Christian". Instead, because our "spiritual occupation", for lack of a better phrase, is that of Christian, we strive to do good things. Good deeds are the product of a Christian life, not the payment to earn the right to be called a Christian.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I pray that I am truly Spirit-focused in this endeavor and that anything I write as a result of this study is in line with the truth of God's Word.

Previous posts:

Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace