Event Planning 101

  1. Never completely trust an “I wanna go!!!” Save yourself the heartache. Don’t get excited until you’re all on the road / at the party … etc.
  2. Asking “Do you want to go on a road trip?” is the same as asking “Do you like road trips?” It gives you no indication of whether the person will actually go on a road trip with you on any day you suggest.
  3. Instead, ask, “Do you want to go camping at Location Alpha with myself and so-and-so from the umpteenth of Mayvember to the impteenth of Apruary? It’ll cost $300. We’re leaving by 19:07 and returning by 15:29.”
  4. Remember that your friends are still your friends, even if they keep bailing on you. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Sometimes, I feel that righteousness alone would not actually be that hard. (Now really, it is, but let us conjecture for a short while.) That would be to claim, perhaps rightly, that you are in the right and have been wronged and there’s no argument about it anymore.

But to have righteousness with grace and mercy and peace is another thing completely. To be in the right but not to boast, or be proud, or seek to dishonour others by pointing out that you were in the right (unlike somebody), and not be easily angered, and yet after that to keep no record of wrongs, and then following all the aftermath to still want to trust and hope and persevere? This is where the Bible gives us a far far higher standard than to merely be righteous.

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Jesus’ words: implications of a simple statement

Mark 2:17 (ESV)

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

Thinking over that last part, Jesus is essentially saying that in his coming to earth, there are some people he calls, and some whom he does not. In other words, some people Jesus saves, and others he does not.

The natural discrimination falls at “the righteous” and “sinners;” the sinners are saved and the righteous are not! However, we also know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. If everyone is a sinner, wherefore art the distinction?

Clearly then, the distinction of whether one is ‘called’ by Jesus is made based not on whether you are righteous or a sinner, but whether you consider yourself a pretty decent person or whether you despise yourself and repent in dust and ashes. Sound melodramatic? This latter group have the presence of mind to say, “Jesus, without you I am lost, and cannot hope to stand before God, in His glory and holiness, and say that I have lived a good life worthy of God’s stature and of being in His presence evermore.

All these implications Jesus packed into 9 words: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
(Well, translated over to ESV, it’s 9 words; maybe even less in Aramaic or Greek or Hebrew.)

Delayed Relevance

This is a meta-blogpost in the sense that I am going to comment on the idea of blogging and its relevance.

I wrote this post as a draft over a month ago, and am now looking at it and wondering how relevant it is compared to that moment when I copied down Psalm 84:11-12. On that day, it had provided such a breath of fresh air and promise that heartened me on a morning of doom and gloom. It was meaningful because it told me that the LORD God doesn’t withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly, and it told me that at a time when I was quite ready to say, “Oh yes He does withhold good things.”

To say that this blogpost is not as relevant now would be somewhat egotistical, as the relevance of this post would rest on my temporal emotional attachment to its Biblical content. Hence, I shall post it anyways, after the fact of being touched by this passage (though still able to explain why it was touching), because it could touch you, dear reader.

Here’s the short snippet I copied down and the sentence I wrote on that day:

At times, God grants a special power to flip to exactly the right passage of scripture.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favour and honour.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!”

The caution here is how to understand what the psalmist means by “good things.” The heart of those who walk uprightly is described earlier in the psalm as a person whose soul “longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD,” and whose “heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” This is a person for whom holds true the belief that a single day in the courts of God is better than a thousand elsewhere. (v.10) This person would rather be a lowly doorkeeper, lonely and actually sort of almost outside the house of God physically, at the door, than dwell inside the tents of wickedness. The good thing here, then, which lines up with the desires expressed, is to be welcomed by God in submission to God. This good thing he does not withhold from those who long for it.

Golly, it’s kind of circular but it makes a lot of sense.

Flies or Children?

The following concerns how one sees oneself when unceremoniously dumped into a less than ideal situation: am I a dirty, hairy, worthless fly, or a beloved child dealt a painful but sobering blow?

In other words, am I with the stricken and woeful King Lear, infamously betrayed by two of his daughters while having unfeelingly rejected the third one who loved him? In his suffering, he says, “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.” He seemed to think the gods tortured people for fun as boys tortured unsuspecting insects like flies, ants, etc. to sate their curiosity. (Apparently I have some fascination with Lear, as I found two other previous posts on this!)

If not Lear’s perspective, then might I have a more sober view of myself as one who could use some discipline, and a more reverent view of God than to see Him as a wanton boy looking for cheap curiosities and thrills?

The following passage from the Letter to the Hebrews makes me want to read it all in a sitting!

Do Not Grow Weary

[3] Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. [4] In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. [5] And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
[6] For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

[7] It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? [8] If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. [9] Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? [10] For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. [11] For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
[12] Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, [13] and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. [14] Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. [15] See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; [16] that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. [17] For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

(Hebrews 12:3-17 ESV)

3 Things of Interest

  1. I’m not that interested in my holiness, on a standardized scale. Perhaps relative to a handful or more of people I could think of, I’m more interested in my holiness than they are in theirs. Nevertheless, as the author of Hebrews points out (correctly), in my struggle against sin I have not yet resisted to the point of shedding my blood. Touché.
  2. To our benefit (in most cases), we receive painful discipline from our legal and loving guardians, a.k.a. parents. We also reserve our energies and thoughtfulness to express the painful truth to those we love, not to any old acquaintance. We expect nothing less than the painful truth from those we trust. (“Do I look stupid wearing/doing this?”) Shallower words are for shallower relationships. Hence, we can expect painful discipline from a holy and loving God who wants us to be holy, like Him. (Romans 8:28-30)
  3. Pain always sucks because it hurts. There’s not really a way to go around this predicament or sugarcoat it. But as for the pain of God’s discipline for the followers of Jesus Christ, his adopted children, at least we know that this pain will eventually yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

1 Thing to Keep in Mind for the Rest of Life

  1. I am not yet holy enough for God to stop disciplining me. (Not even after next time. Or the time after that.)

I happily self-identify as a beloved child of God! I am no fly :)

How to see ‘god’ as ‘God’

[Because I have numerous other essays I need to write, I shall blog instead. (Contradiction intended.) Being able to write continuously and develop an idea about something else may help writing in general? Right now I am stuck, stuck, stuck like a pig in the mud.]

Job. He is the “suffering” guy in the Bible. The one who was a good man, but on whom suffering was poured. He rescued the poor and made the widow’s heart sing; was eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and father to the needy; he took up the case of the stranger, and broke the fangs of the wicked, snatching victims from their teeth. (Job 29:11-17) Job was righteous in his own eyes. (32:1) A contemporary Job might be a leftist humanitarian volunteer doctor working in a third world country.

But Elihu, the youngest among Job and the three other friends who came to console and talk to him, becomes angry with Job for justifying himself rather than God. He hears Job say “I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt,” (33:9) “I am innocent, but God denies me justice,” (34:5) and replies: “But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man.” (33:12) Ultimately, Job, in his ‘goodness’ and ‘righteousness’, had become too comfortable in it. He lost his perspective of the awesomeness that is God. He was proud when he needed humility. “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.” (37:14)

Job in his mind had begun to belittle the surpassing goodness and righteousness of God, that is beyond his imagination. God asks: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” (40:8) If God had punishes the fully righteous, then God would not be righteous. In the same way, we ask why God allows suffering in the world – it may not be our own. Would we discredit his justice? Can we condemn God in order to justify people? On a side note, are we forgetting the existence of Satan, of evil?

This is Job’s reply. “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:3-6) Job in this penultimate chapter displays Biblical wisdom: the fear of the Lord. Although he had earlier stated it himself, having heard that “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding,” (28:28) he was full of himself (to use a colloquial wording) and not full of the Spirit (literally). He had forgotten the evil still in himself. “It is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding.” (32:8)

In the end, it boils down, yet again, to God-is-Holy-and-we-are-sinful. We strive towards (hunger and thirst for) righteousness, but must realise that we cannot attain that quality in and of ourselves. We are to be filled (and this is where Jesus comes in). I wish I had a better way to end this patchwork of the book of Job, but I am growing tired.

[NOTE: add from beginning of Job]