Daddy blog

I started this blog when I was following the Life Journal Bible reading plan on YouVersion. (I've since completed that plan.) At that time, YouVersion didn't provide any way for people to respond to my notes, other than to "like" them. So this blog is here to remedy that problem. You may comment on my notes here in the comment section.
I also have a general blog.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sola fide? Yes, but...


S: Matthew 7:12-27
The Golden Rule
12“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
The Narrow Gate
13“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
The Tree and Its Fruit
15“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
True Disciples
21“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Building on a Solid Foundation
24“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

O: Ephesians 2:8-9 points out, 8God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Some Christians, e.g. Paul F. Pavao, thinks that this means you're saved by faith alone, but then after that, you're judged by works.

However, while I agree with much of what Parvao says, I stumble over passages like Galatians 3:1-4 which seem to say that the Galatians were foolish in trying to add works to their faith when it was their faith that saved them in the first place.

Traditional Evangelical doctrine, for example as expressed by this page, says works play no part in salvation at all, and that works is merely an evidence for faith, as in James 2:14-26.

Catholic theologian Christopher Malloy points out that Catholic theology only accepts justification by faith when in conjunction with charity.

A: So what do we make of all this? I take a page from the Eastern Orthodox Christians who live with mystery. Mystery in this sense isn't a mystery story, but rather, acceptance that there are things of God which are beyond human ability to understand.

Just because it is beyond our ability to understand doesn't make it untrue. For example, we can teach chimpanzees sign language and hence be able to hold a conversation with chimps. We can teach chimps how to count, and perhaps even how to add and multiply. But it is impossible to teach chimps calculus. Does that make calculus any less true? We build bridges, skyscrapers and airplanes with calculus, and they work. So a chimp's inability to understand calculus is more of a statement of the limitations of chimpanzee intellect than a statement of the truth of falsity of calculus.

So, in the end, how do we respond to this? The Bible clearly says that we are saved by grace through faith. The Bible also clearly says that we must do good works, and sometimes it says this is tied up with our salvation.

I don't understand how it all fits together, and that's OK. I do know that I must have faith in Christ, and that I must follow Biblical teachings and have good works as well. So whether you have Lutheran theology, Catholic theology, Arminian theology, Calvinist theology, Evangelical theology, we are all united in this: Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24)

P: Father, I need to continue in faith in You and Your Christ, and continue in following Your teachings. Help me to keep to the narrow path of righteousness, while not wasting time worrying but resting in Your grace through faith. In Jesus' name, amen.

Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Purposeful Prayer


S: Matthew 6:5-9 5“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.7“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11Give us today the food we need,
12and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.

O: I find it ironic that this very prayer which Jesus prefaced with “use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (as verse 7 is rendered in the King James Version) has been turned by so many people into a “vain repetition” itself.

The words Jesus showed us in the “Our Father” are wonderful, but if you just rote repeat them, they lose their meaning.

The same thing goes for the liturgy. Coming from a mostly non-liturgical background, I love listening to the liturgy when I find myself in a liturgical mass. It is so full of Biblical meaning. Yet most people seem to just rote repeat it without paying attention to the meaning.

But lest we from non-liturgical denominations become smug, we are also susceptible to just “going through the motions”. And “praying so that people can see us” is a temptation that faces people from non-liturgical traditions even more, perhaps.

A: Let us pray purposefully! Let us come before our heavenly Father in spirit and in truth.

P: Father, sometimes I find my own prayers are just “going through the motions”. Fill me with Your Spirit and keep my faith fresh. In Jesus’ name, amen. P: Father, thank You that You give us meaning in life through Jesus Christ our Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Is life meaningless?


S: Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:1,7-8, 12-14 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless. Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless. Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” ... For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless.” ... But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.

O: Solomon showed such great promise. As a young king, God had offered him whatever he wanted, and he had chosen wisely: instead of asking for wealth and power, he asked for wisdom to be able to govern the country well. God commended him for that, and gave him wisdom and wealth and power. (1 Chronicles 1)

However, he let his wealth and power go to his head. While being wise in running the country, he wasn't so wise in running his own life: he ignored God's injunctions about kings not to multiply wives and for people to be faithful to God. So he married many wives, most of whom appeared not to be followers of God, and he followed them into idolatry. (1 Kings 11)

The book of Ecclesiastes is a chronicle of his attempts to find fulfillment in life without God. He had everything; he tried everything. He tried wine, women and song. He tried the satisfaction of a job well done. In the end, it was all meaningless. It goes through his changing thoughts as he thought through these things. That's why it is very dangerous to quote a verse from Ecclesiastes — it's as likely to be false as it is to be true, since Solomon went through many false thoughts as he thought through this matter.

Too bad for Solomon, in spite of his wisdom, he only realised this at the end of his life: there is no meaning in life if you just try to live for yourself! Only God gives ultimate meaning to one's life.

A: Let's not waste our lives and only realise this at the end of our lives. Let's live for Jesus while we are young, while we are middle-aged, and while we are old. Then we will hear the words of our Saviour, “Well done, good and faithful servant” welcoming us in the end. (Matthew 25:21)

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” — Jim Elliott, martyr.

The people in this song all had meaning in the lives. Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, and Roger Youderian were killed by Huaorani warriors due to internal Huaorani politics during their attempts to reach them for the Gospel. Yet “the blood of the martyrs are the seed of the church” — and today that Huaorani tribe has been transformed from bloodthirsty murderers that were going to wipe themselves out by their bloody lifestyle into peaceful Christians who love God and love their fellow human beings. Eric Liddell gave his life to bring the Gospel to China, eventually dying in a Japanese prison camp during the second world war. Yet his legacy lives on in the lives of many Chinese Christians today.

Their lives were full of meaning — because of Christ.

P: Father, thank You that You give us meaning in life through Jesus Christ our Lord. In Jesus' name, amen.
Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)