Sunday, March 20, 2011

Studying the Parables

As mentioned in the very first post (February 14), we are working on a new study based on the parables of Jesus.  We are taking a somewhat different approach to the parables and hope to share some new insights into the parables.

In this post I want to give a little background on our approach.  Each parable has a physical or natural element.  For instance, it really does help to build on a solid foundation, rather than sand.  When the literal storms arise you need protection from the flooding waters.

Next, the parables also have a spiritual or eternal component.  A solid foundation for life is to obey the teachings of Jesus.  When the storms of life gather, you need protection from doubt, discouragement, and hopelessness.

In our study guide we are also going to consider the kingdom aspect of the parables.  These lessons taught by Jesus helped prepare His disciples for a major change in God’s work on earth.

Up to this time God’s people was the Nation of Israel.  After the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s work on earth would be through the church.  As Jesus prepared His followers for this change He used parables to help them be prepared.

What was the change in the parable of the solid foundation?  Before this time the people had the Law, the Prophets, books of History, and books of Poetry.  Jesus made it clear that those building a solid foundation would be “Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them.”  (Luke 6:47)

This is just one simple example of how we can see Jesus preparing His disciples to be leaders, followers, and workers in the coming Kingdom of God.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Afflicted, but not crushed

Just a few more thoughts about the “Lone Survivor,” written by Marcus Luttrell. 

As his story continued, after his capture/rescue by the tribesmen, he was taken to their village.  They cared for him in a small house.  He was safe with them through the tribal law of Lokhay, as mentioned in the previous post.

However, the Taliban were still searching for him with a vengeance.  Unknown to Marcus, they had surrounded the village.

 “I opened my eyes in time to see eight armed Taliban fighters come barging into the room.  The first one came straight over to my cot and slapped me across the face with all his force.”  (p. 926)

Over the next six hours the Taliban fighters viciously beat Marcus while demanding information.  And, yet, they did not remove him from the house or from the village.

Eventually an elder of the village entered the room and spoke with the Taliban fighters.  Marcus later found out that this man was the chief of several villages in that area.

“I was not certain what he was saying, but I found out later he was forbidding them to take me away.”  (p. 939)

The Taliban left after the village leader told them they could not take Marcus.  The power of Lokhay saved his life.  For the next several days the Taliban fighters maintained a watch on the villages.  They threatened and tried to intimidate the villagers.  They even entered the village again, but never caused Marcus any more harm.

Some people believe that once you “become a Christian” all of your troubles are over.  They expect a blessed life without any struggles.  Jesus himself said that there would be troubles while we are on earth.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33)

Even though Jesus is the “village chief,” there will still be times when our enemies attack, discourage, try to defeat us.  There will be times when the enemy surrounds us and demands our surrender.  It’s times like these that we have confidence in our Lokhay with God.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”  (1 Peter 5:6-11)

Book quotes from “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell, iPhone version.  Bible quotes from NASB.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

God's Lokhay

Two weeks ago I finished reading “Lone Survivor” a book about a Navy SEAL operation in Afghanistan.  After being inserted into a remote mountainous region, the four man team was attacked by a large force of Taliban fighters.  Three of the men were killed, while a fourth was pursued relentlessly for many hours.

The “Lone Survivor,” Marcus Luttrell, was severely wounded, dehydrated, and emotionally drained when he spotted three men approaching him carrying rifles.

“The guy behind the tree was now back out in the open and still yelling at me, standing there with his rifle lowered, I guessed demanding my surrender.  But I couldn’t even do that.  I just knew that I desperately needed help or I was going to bleed to death.  Then I did what I never thought I would do in the whole of my career.  I lowered my rifle.  Defeated.”  (p. 889)

Instead of being captured by the Taliban, the Navy SEAL was taken to a nearby village.  According to the historic Pashtun-walai tribal law Marcus was not their prisoner, but instead, he was their guest.  Their tribal law, known as lokhay warkawal, demanded that they protect their guest at all costs.

“Lokhay means the population of that village will fight to the last man, honor-bound to protect the individual they have invited in to share their hospitality.”  (p. 92)

In this amazing story I see some interesting parallels to our relationship with God.

First, we were trespassing in God’s territory.  “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”  (Ephesians 2:1)

Second, God lowered His “rifle” first, while we were still hostile.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

Third, God willing welcomes us into his village.  “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”  (John 14:3)

And, finally, God has promised to protect us for eternity.  His honor demands that He protect us from our enemy.  “I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”  (John 10:28)

Book quotes from “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell, iPhone version.  Bible quotes from NASB.