Subscribe via E-mail

Your email:

Follow Me

CIU Faculty Blogs

Aletheia - (ἀλήθεια - "Truth")

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Small Words, Big Message

 

lit match resized 600

I can’t get these words out of my head.  I keep coming back to them day after day.  I have to.  Where else will I turn as the world constantly threatens to shake my confidence in God?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me first set the stage.  King Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of Babylon.  Exercising his kingly authority, Nebuchadnezzar had a gigantic statue fashioned and erected in Babylon, commanding everyone to bow down and worship the image at the sound of conspicuous music.  Everyone had to bow down and worship immediately.  That was the rule and it was clear.  One last detail – failure to comply with the king’s command would result in death by fire.

Sounds like a situation I’m glad to have missed.  A couple Jewish boys who were actually pretty prominent in Babylon, however, were present and knew the rule.  When they refused to obey the king’s command since it would go against their allegiance to God, they were turned in.  Understandably furious, Nebuchadnezzar threatened them with the blazing furnace and mocked their God.

Their response?  “We don’t need to defend ourselves before you because we know God is able to save us from the fire and rescue us from your hand.”  Sounds good, but that's not all.  They continue with the words I can’t seem to forget: “But even if He does not, we will not serve your gods or worship your image.” 

The quote is ascribed to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but I assume the three of them were not speaking in unison (but who knows!).  Maybe one of them was the spokesman.  Can you imagine standing beside him as he expresses confidence in God’s power?  You’re nodding in agreement until he utters those six words.  But even if He does not?  What are you saying?  He better save us!  We’re standing up to the king, here!

Six little words make a huge difference and demonstrate not only the boys’ faith in God’s power, but also their understanding of God’s character and sovereignty: God is able to save us, but our confidence in Him and obedience to Him are not based on whether or not He comes through like we believe He can (and maybe even think He should).

Let’s trust in God’s power to come through like we know He can; but even if He does not express His power like we think or hope He will, let’s not let allow our circumstances to shake our resolve to live in confident obedience.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Learn more about CIU!

Tags: 

Christmas Music

 

Advent Wreath resized 600

It’s that time of year. Thanksgiving is THIS Thursday and Christmas is exactly ONE MONTH from today! Which means Christmas music will be playing from just about every set of speakers in town. 

I find it interesting that, for a little over a month each year, almost every business and store has the same kind of music playing. 

Even more interesting is that the words of many traditional Christmas hymns are theologically rich. 

Perhaps most interesting is that non-Christians, even some of whom are opposed to the Christian message, are listening to (and maybe singing) lines like:

“O come, let us adore Him”

“Let earth receive her King”

“Haste, haste to bring Him laud”

“Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled”

“Come adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King”

I say keep the Christmas music playing and ask God to use it to make the life-changing message clear to non-believers, many of whom are just listening to festive tunes while driving home from work or stopping in the grocery store.

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Learn more about CIU!

Tags: 

Legacy

 

FirefoxScreenSnapz092

“Five minutes!”  “Okay, I’ll be there in five minutes!”  This was the phone greeting I used for several years as I was the Starbucks source for my good friend, Dr. Terry Hulbert. We shared a love of good coffee and good conversation. Our times together wouldn’t end with a “Well, have a nice day.” I would ask him how he was doing and he would ask me about my exploits teaching theology, playing tennis with other old guys, and my heart for sharing the gospel with others.

He retired — became a “Professor Emeritus” — several years ago, and I miss our coffee times together. His office is mostly unoccupied, although he occasionally comes in for lunch at CIU’s cafeteria.

Yesterday I visited Dr. Hulbert at home, to take away most of his remaining library to sell or give away to students as he and Mrs. Hulbert are moving into an assisted living facility.

You have entered something very private, I think, when you are asked to go into a respected New Testament scholar and former missionary’s basement to cart away his lifetime collection of books.

Far more important than his library or his own publications is the impact he has had on thousands of student’s lives over the years. He has challenged them with the question, “What does the text say?” He has urged them to pursue a committed love for the Lord, to have a vision for this large, lost world, to be a man or woman of grace. And his life has impacted mine.

The question which looms large in my mind is this: What will be my legacy? What memories, what challenges, what intentional (albeit imperfect) examples will I leave behind that will inspire others to say, “My, didn’t he love the Lord and His Word?”

I’ve already begun to purge my personal library, to toss class notes I no longer need, in anticipation of someone else sorting through my stuff when I’m gone. I just hope they won’t forget the good things the Lord has done in my own life — and the promise held out to them that the same Lord can use them too.

Written by Dr. Larry Dixon Professor of Theology, Columbia International University Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Learn more about CIU!

Tags: 

Bearing Our Burdens

 

tired student

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19).

A burden, according to the dictionary, is “that which is carried” or “that which is borne with difficulty.”

The pressures of a hectic semester, deadlines for major projects, relationship struggles, and health problems are just a few examples of burdens carried by CIU students.

If you stop and think for a minute, you could probably come up with a substantial list of burdens that are currently weighing you (or people you know) down.  Stress and difficulties are a normal part of life on earth, but sometimes those worries become a considerably heavy load. 

But what an incredible comfort it is to know that we have a God who is both willing and able to bear our burdens on a daily basis.

He is strong enough to carry your burdens today. Will you let Him?

Written by Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Learn more about CIU!

Tags: 

A Sense of Wonder

 

lake murray sunset resized 600

“And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.”

This verse of “How Great Thou Art” has always been my favorite. It is a beautiful summary of something I often lack in my relationship with the Lord.

“I scarce can take it in.” Those words have haunted me since the first time I actually stopped long enough to think about them while singing. The hymn writer was so moved by the reality of what God did in sending Jesus to be a sin offering for us (Romans 8:3) that he can’t even really let it sink in. It’s too good for him to understand. It’s so amazing that he almost can’t believe it.

That sense of wonder is sometimes missing in my life. I’m so familiar with God’s Word – I know the story. But even though I’m familiar with it, I don’t want to get used to it. I don’t want to “take it in” so easily and so quickly. 

When I take the time to see God – to gaze upon His beauty (Psalm 27:4) through prayer and His Word – I realize that He is high and exalted (Isaiah 6:1), He is holy (6:3), and the earth is full of His glory (6:3). When Isaiah had that experience in his life, he was changed forever. 

Do you take time to meditate on God’s majesty and glory?  If we do, we will be overwhelmed with a sense of wonder.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Learn more about CIU!

Tags: 

When Does Sanctification Occur?

 

female white profile shot resized 600

I often catch myself daydreaming about spiritual growth and wondering what people, places, and events God will use to shape me.  It’s certainly easy to value the monumental over the mundane, falling into the assumption that God is more likely to use “big” things rather than “small.”

Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is actively working in all things for the good of His people.  Contrary to popular opinion, however, my understanding of goodness does not dictate how God works; His working is good according to His standard and purpose.  Romans 8:29 gives us a glimpse of His purpose – part of God’s plan is that His people would be conformed to the image of Jesus.  Progressively this is known as sanctification; in an ultimate sense it is called glorification.

We know glorification is coming in the future, but when does sanctification occur?  The bottom line is that God is always at work accomplishing what He declares to be the good of His people, namely their growth in Christ-likeness.  All of life is the operating room; nothing is off limits.  School, relationships, employment, and continuous to-do lists are not ends in and of themselves; they are a means by which God is refining us and the tools He is using to mold us as we approach the day when, ultimately, God’s “good working” in our lives comes to fruition because “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).   

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Tags: 

When Obedience Becomes a Burden

 

myrtlebeachsunrise resized 600

Malachi 1 is a painful account of God’s indictment against Israel’s priests who had been offering blind, crippled, and diseased animals to Him in the temple. 

We know that the sacrificial system was established graciously by God for His people as a means of atonement.  In a beautiful move toward a restored, whole relationship, God takes the initiative.  He makes forgiveness of sins possible.  Peace with God can be a reality.

So how do the priests respond?  “What a burden.”  Can you believe it?  God’s grace is everywhere!  This is good news for His people!  They can know Him and enjoy a relationship with Him!  All He wants is their best.  The strongest, healthiest male animals were to be offered to Him as sacrifices.  Instead, they are giving the worst and complaining that the whole thing is getting a little old – it has become burdensome.

1 John 5:3 reminds us that our love for God is expressed by obedience to His commands which are “not burdensome.”  We obey because we love Him, not because we feel guilty.  When we begin to feel that obedience is a burden, it is an indicator that our understanding of God’s grace is skewed.  This is a big deal for several reasons, but let me mention two from Malachi.

  • Treating an obedient relationship with God like a burden hurts His heart.  You can sense the pain in His voice in Malachi 1:10 when He tells the priests not to bother with sacrifices anymore – just shut the temple doors and don’t light any fires on the altar.  He is displeased and uninterested in their offerings because they aren’t being given from a pure heart or in accordance with His standards.

  • Treating an obedient relationship with God like a burden is a poor testimony to a watching world.  One of the reasons God is angry with the priests is seen in verses 11 and 14 – “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun…I am a great king…and my name is to be feared among the nations.”  The world is looking on as God’s people offer Him less than the best.  Their sacrifices aren’t communicating the message that Israel’s God is a great King who is worthy of their very best.

What a privilege we have to be in a relationship with God as recipients of His grace.  What a delight it is to live lives of faithful obedience in gratitude for the abundant mercy He has extended to us.  And as we demonstrate our love for Him by joyful obedience, He is honored and His name is proclaimed as great to a watching world.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Tags: 

Changing My Focus

 

man praying silhouette resized 600

I love reading the Psalms for several reasons, one being how easy it is to relate to the emotions of the writers.  A quick glance through the book reveals people experiencing the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and a range of life situations in between.

As I read through Psalm 13 this morning, King David’s anguish was unmistakable.  The first five sentences are a series of agonizing questions directed to the Lord.  I don’t know the details of his circumstances, but based on David’s words, it seems like he’s in a challenging, painful season of life.

Wisely, David pours out his heart to the Lord and expresses his concern.  But he doesn’t stop there.  As he lifts his eyes from his circumstances to his Savior, his perspective changes.  The tone in the last two verses is strikingly distinct from the previous four – “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.”

Today I’m reminding myself to take my burdens to the Lord – He has extended an invitation for us to cast our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7) and to come to Him for the soul-rest we so desperately need (Matthew 11:28).  But as I come to Him, I don’t want to drop my burdens and run.  I want to shift my focus from my problems to the Lord, and like David come to the conclusion that, no matter where I find myself, the Lord has been good to me.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Tags: 

Lessons from a Criminal

 

Jesus cross resized 600

This morning I was reading Luke 23, and the part that stood out to me most was the exchange between Jesus and the criminals being crucified next to Him.

After one of the criminals mocked Jesus, the other responded with a profound observation (one I hadn’t noticed before).  He recognizes that his punishment is deserved, but that Jesus has done nothing wrong.  From the least likely candidate comes the astonishing admission of his own guilt in contrast with Christ’s guiltlessness.  With a simple statement it becomes apparent that this man understands both who he is and who Jesus is.

His last recorded words are addressed to Jesus – words that amaze me.  “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  He doesn’t ask for anything.  He doesn’t assume that there is a place for Him in Jesus’ kingdom.  With humility he makes his final request – remember me.

Jesus’ tender response to this man’s apparent faith is striking.  Rather than granting his request, Jesus offers something better.  “I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.”

This man deserves death and knows it, recognizes Jesus as blameless, and doesn’t think he has a shot at heaven.  His honest self-evaluation leads him to an accurate conclusion to which Jesus responds with unbelievable grace.

I never expected to be inspired by a criminal this morning, but his response to Jesus is, quite honestly, far more appropriate than my usual response.  May we have eyes to see our sin clearly enough to eliminate any sense of entitlement and may we, like the man on the cross, be captivated by the sinlessness of our Savior.

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Tags: 

What Makes Us Different?

 

hands in middle resized 600

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

God’s people are marked by certain things that distinguish us from the world.  Because of our relationship to Jesus, we are called to live a particular way, engaging in some activities and abstaining from others.  As we walk with Him, He produces characteristics in us which evidence His work in our lives.  

One of the qualities displayed by those walking in the light is the ability to forgive.  

The perfect example is the forgiveness God has extended to us in Jesus.  Thinking about it for only a few seconds, four words quickly come to mind – I don’t deserve it!  

Relationships are an investment and require hard work.  Sometimes our friends, family members, and roommates aren’t the easiest to love.  They hurt us in big and small ways, intentionally and unintentionally.  

But as we fix our eyes on Jesus, our focus is no longer on the person who has offended us, but on the One who has forgiven us.  When we look to Him, even when the other person doesn’t deserve our forgiveness, we realize that He deserves our obedience.  And that perspective radically distinguishes us from the world.   

Written by: Abbey Le Roy, MA in Theological Studies from CIU's Seminary and School of Ministry

"Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Tags: 
All Posts