Thought of the Day

It is always good times at communion services, but it was especially delicious today. Figuratively. Although Judy Frank’s unleaven bread recipe is worth killing for (ooh, that’s unbiblical). But I digress.

If I weren’t so lazy and woke up early enough on Sundays, I would totally make it to Grace morning services to hear Dan‘s wonderful insights. Podcasts are God-sent, but it’s just not the same without the family there. But I guess that makes it so much better when I get to hear him in person, such as today. The epiphany he shared with us truly is something that I haven’t heard any other preacher/teacher talk about. (Dude, if you have no-o-o-o-o idea what I’m talking about, you missed out on a pretty sweet communion service. I pity the fool…)

If it is at all possible, though, I would like to further extend what he shared and add in my own little bit. I’m no theologian, but the following came to my mind as I sat there with the cup and the bread in my hand.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

It was God’s intention from Genesis 1 to be our God, for us to be His people, and for Him to make His dwelling with us. He strolled with Adam in the cool of the day, and Adam had direct access to God as he pleased. God only gave one command: don’t eat that fruit. One would think that a single command would be pretty easy to follow versus thousands of statutes, but, as we all know, the flesh is weak. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden (Gen 3:8).” Thus the mankind toils for his food and must offer sacrifices. Oh, and die (thanks, Adam). First mistake.

As Dan revealed for us, God wanted ALL of his people to be priests with direct access to Him as we pleased. “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6a).” God gave them one command: when the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain. After all the displays of His power and glory through the plagues and the whole Red Sea thing, one would be inclined to do as He says. Alas… “The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, while I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD. For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain (Deut 4:4-5).” God wanted to speak face to face with His people, yet they drew away from Him. Thus came 613 laws that we could never keep. Second mistake.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Three is a number of completion in the Bible.
– God is complete in Himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
– During His ministry, Jesus raised 3 people from the grave to show his complete power over death.
– Peter denied Jesus 3 times, but Jesus gave him the opportunity to repent 3 times.
– Peter had 3 visions to convince him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 11:5-10).
– Christ begun His ministry at the age of 30, completed His work in 3 years, and died at the age of 33.
– There were 3 times that the Father’s voice bore testimony of His Son.
* The first time was at Christ’s baptism (Mt 3:17) as a testimony to the Jews.
* The second time was for the church leaders (Lk 9:35).
* The third was for the gentiles (Greeks) (Jn 12:28).

God had originally intended to make His dwelling with us: “I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people (Lev 26:12).” He began a good work in the Garden of Eden. He gave us a second chance at Mount Sinai. He has completed the good work at the day of Jesus Christ.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, one of the only times in the New Testament that God spoke audibly to His people (see above list), He gave us one command: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him (Mt 17:5).” [Also Mk 9:7, Lk 9;35, ] (Totally random side note: God likes to give His commands on mountains.) Because we would not draw near to God, He came off His throne to make His dwelling with us here on earth. Better yet, He wants to dwell within us and for us to be in Him (Jn 17:20-23).

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

God has given the mankind a third chance. We can choose Jesus or go back to the 613 laws. But we’ve seen the pattern of exponential increase of rules as we make the wrong choices. For those who do not choose Jesus more laws that we could never follow await us. If you are completely in the world, you have the laws of the world that fill volumes upon volumes of books. Believe you me, all the law students in the world put together will not be able to read through all of those laws. If you are “in” the church but still have not chosen Jesus, you still face more rules than you could ever keep up with. You can’t wear hats or jeans to services. You can only worship on Sundays. You can only sing songs that are at least two generations old. You can never drink alcohol. Need I go on?

God does not ask much of us. He knows we are too broken, weak, and fragile to handle anything on our own. When it comes down to the important moments, i.e. when He is making a covenant with us, He only gives us one command. He does all the prep work behind the scenes. All we have to do is one thing: draw near to Him.

He longs so much to be with His people. He longs so much to be with His people. Yet we continually turn away from him. Isn’t it time that we finally make the right choice, to choose God because He chose us first?

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Is SMU better than Cornell, Duke, or MIT?

According to a new ranking system, yes. Forbes Magazine’s May 19 edition features the Center for College Affordability & Productivity (CCAP) rankings. SMU was ranked 13th among national universities ahead of Duke, MIT, and Cornell.

The new ranking system has some questionable methodologies, but so does all the other rankings such as the infamous U.S. News & World Report or even Princeton Review or Kiplinger’s. Even if it is a bit based on false impressions, it’s good to be attending a highly ranked school. 😉

One-upping Supreme Court Justices

What would you do if you found an error in a U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s reasoning? The men and woman (sadly a singular now) who are considered to be the residents of the highest ivory tower. The most brilliant legal minds in America. Those with the final say. Would it make your day, would it stroke your ego to find an error in their reasoning for one of their court decisions?

Well, I will never have such privilege, so you are going to have to ask Dwight Sullivan, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve who now works for the Air Force as a civilian defense lawyer handling death penalty appeals.

First, if you haven’t already, catch yourself up with my recent post regarding a Supreme Court decision on capital punishment for child rapists. Then read on.

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion stated that a child rapist could face the ultimate penalty in only six states — not in any of the 30 other states that have the death penalty, and not under the jurisdiction of the federal government either. However, Col. Sullivan pointed out that the Congress, in fact, revised the sex crimes section of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 2006 to add child rape to the military death penalty.

The news broke out first on the New York Times on Tuesday. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Justice admitted that the government lawyers should have been aware of the new law and should have informed the Supreme Court. The parties to any U.S. Supreme Court cases can request reconsideration. It will be interesting if such request will be filed and, more importantly, granted.