Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spiritual Survey

We haven't been writing in the blog much lately, partly because we've been spending what little writing time we have on a spiritual survey that has been going around my extended family through email. It all started with one of those generic forward surveys; some of the questions were dumb, but we enjoyed reading each other's answers so much that my sister Robyn came up with her own survey fine-tuned for the stuff that interests us (Crocks: good or evil?) Then my aunt Julie came up with the idea for a spiritual survey and wrote it. Well this was a huge family hit with even the men participating. So I thought I'd post some of Chris and I's answers. For now, I'll just post a few of Chris' answers. I'll do mine another day.

Chris' answers:

1) What is one of your favorite promises in the Bible?
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
2 Timothy 2:7

Most promises in the Scriptures come with conditions. In this case, the condition is our giving thought to what Paul, or any of the other biblical authors, has written. When I'm struggling with an especially hard passage, this promise gives me the hope and confidence to press on in trying to figure it out. We put in the time, God grants the understanding. I love the scope of the promise as well. Yes it is limited to what Paul has said, yet it is unlimited after that! He grants us understanding in everything.

2) Who is one of your favorite characters in the Bible and why?
John Mark –
John Mark represents the New
Testament/post-resurrection/post-Pentecost concept of hope against hope. Here is a young man whom church history claims fled into the night naked when Jesus was apprehended.

Mark 14:50-52 And they all left him and fled. And a young man
followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Some years after Pentecost, he joined Paul on his first missionary journey. Yet when things got tough (like Paul was being persecuted and was even stoned and left for dead outside the city!), John Mark gave up and went home.

His going AWAL was so bad that Paul and Barnabas have a big fight over whether or not they let him come on the second trip. Paul is so emphatic that a deserter can not have any part of the trip that Paul and Barnabas go their own ways.

Acts 15:37-39 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

Yet, John Mark does not get so discouraged that he gives up trying. He sticks to it this time and ultimately becomes Peter's assistant and is even credited by Paul late in his life for being 'useful' to him.

Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his
greetings; and also Barnabas's cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him);

2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with
you, for he is useful to me for service.

Philemon 1:23-24 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus,
greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.

1 Peter 5:13 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.

Ultimately, he becomes Peter's interpreter and writes the Gospel attributed to him. I love John Mark because he offers hope to those who feel hopeless in light of the glories of the gospel already known and rejected. It may be too late for a season, but don't give up, stick to it and show yourself faithful. There may be greater days ahead! Was it okay that he gave up and went home on the first trip?

No! Was Paul right on insisting that Mark be left out? Yes. Yet, once he proved himself over many years, he became a dependable disciple whom the apostles could praise.

3) What is a favorite animal story (or animal reference) in the Bible?
Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.
Proverbs 12:10

One of the many passages in Scripture that allows me to recognize the truth claims of animal rights groups. Some day, all things will be made right again.

12) A part of the Bible that strikes you as funny.
There are lots of funny events recorded in the Scriptures, but this one strikes me a particularly funny. When Saul is chosen as king of Israel, they go through this whole long selection process by choosing lots. Yet once the lot finally falls on Saul, they can not find him anywhere! Finally, they actually have to go back to God and tell him they can't find him. So God actually has to tell them where the anointed is hiding himself so they can go and anoint him.

The whole thing is just so strange and funny. They could have avoided the whole selection process in the first place. God knew whom he had chose (Samuel had already anointed him at least seven days before).

God knew where he was hiding. God could have just said, "Look, I've already anointed Saul, he knows he will soon be king, but he's a coward and has hidden himself among the baggage, go get him and make him your king!"

1 Samuel 10:20-23 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near,
and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the LORD, "Is there a man still to come?" and the LORD said, "Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage." Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward.

On the other hand, it is also quite sad. Israel should have known right then and there that their new leader was not fit for the job.

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