One Disciple

The reflections of one disciple of Jesus on his journey in God's grace.

Category: Gospel

All Creation Groans

It was dark.  I moved my pickup to a level spot not far from the shepherds’ camp.  I turned off the engine grabbed my flashlight and stepped out.  Two dogs, running and barking, caught up to me as I got to the back.  The alarm was over as soon as they saw me.  One stood off about six feet. The other dog came right up to me.  “Hey pup, how are you?” I said as I began to pet its head.  It stepped up by my left leg and sat leaning against me.  Running my hand down its back I could feel every bone and then every rib on its side.  “Those pups are yours.” I said, wishing I had some meat in my cooler to give her. My hand moved back to pet her head.  Her eyes closed.  I then worked her ears.  Eyes still closed she started to slide down my leg to the ground.  I rubbed her head more and she collapsed to the ground beside me eyes closed, soaking up every caress.  I wanted to get to bed but I couldn’t leave her.  I rubbed her side.  Her paws were dirty from walking through the mud to drink from the muddy pond across from us.

I stopped and stood up.  She got up and trotted off into the darkness.

 

Standing on the Moon on the way to Jupiter

I am having more fun and enjoying more peace. I think actually the word “fun” is wrong here it should be joy, an inner delight. I actually love God, I mean from my heart not just acting on a requirement. Why this change in my inner being? I think I can attribute it all to knowing God more accurately.

Most of my life theology was far less interesting than a Louis L’Amore novel. But one miserable day I knelt in despair and cried. As a missionary to shepherds I could not stop doing stupid things, not intentionally evil just not up-to-standard for the excellence required for an experienced Christian missionary. As I petitioned God I “saw” Him sitting on His throne, holding His head in His hands wondering if I would ever get my life under control and get things done as I was taught to do. I was pushing God to despair.
In this state of misery the Spirit suddenly revealed to me that God was sitting there quite calm! He was at peace about my life not because my stupidity and sin didn’t matter but because He knew about all of it long before I existed and His plan was still on schedule. The realization that He was not sitting there watching me destroy His work was transforming. It was a moment that I still consider to be a moment of new birth, salvation, of Steve Kreis. All my life had been based on the concept that God had offered me salvation, I chose it, in contrast to nearly all my school classmates, and I was now to serve God and live for Him. This left the burden of getting it right on my shoulders and that late summer afternoon it had broken me.

That was about six years ago. Since then I have faced financial gain and then financial loss. I have faced my ineptitude and sinfulness. I have struggled but in contrast to the past I have grown in my faith and in my love for my Father. The change has not been based on the miraculous but on theology.

Theology was about as interesting as a cook book before. I would scan it to get some general ingredients and then cook up something with those ingredients (plus some creative ideas of my own) and voilà! I had something inedible or at least tasteless. No longer.  The few L’Amore westerns I have are packed away and my cherished volumes are thick and deep in theology.

One of my professors is Geerhardus Vos (1862-1949), former professor of Biblical Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary. In his book, Biblical Theology, he says, “Theology is the science concerning God.” When I hear the word science I think of standing under the stars on a clear, dark night and being enraptured with these great wonders longing to know more and go farther. Apply that to God and you find yourself longing to dig further and know more about Him. In the science of God I have fallen in love with Him. (I will add a side benefit is falling in love with my wife too.)

I have on my Kindle the Inaugural address that Vos gave at Princeton as he took the chair of Biblical Theology, May 8, 1894. It is titled, THE IDEA OF BIBLICAL THEOLOGY AS A SCIENCE AND AS A THEOLOGICAL DISCIPLINE. What an incredible address it is. It is like looking at the planets through the telescope of Mt. Palomar and then riding the shuttle and finally standing on the moon looking back at the earth and then beyond. Let Jupiter and Iome close with some quotes from the beginning of the address.

“Between God as the Creator and all other things as created the distinction is absolute. There is not another such gulf within the universe. God, as distinct from the creature, is the only legitimate object of Theology.
It will be seen, however, on a moment’s reflection, that Theology is not merely distinguished from the other sciences by its object, but that it also sustains an altogether unique relation to this object, for which no strict analogy can be found elsewhere. In all the other sciences man is the one who of himself takes the first step in approaching the objective world, in subjecting it to his scrutiny , in compelling it to submit to his experiments — in a word, man is the one who proceeds actively to make nature reveal her facts and her laws. In Theology this relation between the subject and object is reversed. Here it is God who takes the first step to approach man for the purpose of disclosing His nature, nay , who creates man in order that He may have a finite mind able to receive the knowledge of His infinite perfections.”
Geerhardus Vos. The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline (Kindle Locations 54-56).

I am standing on the moon on the way to Jupiter.

Three Men Died

It was a fall morning and I would have been in school but I was home, sick and in bed.    My bed was in a small porch that had been enclosed and turned into a bedroom.  The living room windows that had opened to the porch had been removed leaving two openings right over the head of the bed.  As I lay there I heard my mother talking with a neighbor, who in one sentence permanently etched that moment in my memory, “Those missiles could even reach this far!”  Suddenly our little house perched on a mountainside in Colorado lost all its security.  That was a traumatic moment for a nine year-old.  Years later I connected that moment with the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Just over a year later another event equally marked my memory for life.

Foggy Church Graveyard --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisI was at school that November day.  West Jefferson Elementary had added a few World War 2 army barracks to the mountainside to accommodate the growing student body.  As I left a barracks to go down the main building a boy shouted, “The president has been shot!” All the other mornings at school are long forgotten but I can still see the entire scene of that mountainside with the school buildings these 50 years later.   The following Monday but there was no school.  We sat in front of the TV and watched the funeral procession of our former president.

The death of President Kennedy overshadowed the death, on the same day, of the Professor C.S. Lewis and English writer Aldous Huxley.  Lewis is well remembered for the Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity and Huxley for Brave New World.  Lewis left atheism for Christianity while Huxley the humanist remained an agnostic.  Lewis left us with an ultimate hope in the redeeming God while Huxley left us with a reminder of the despair of man when left in the hands of man.

Fifty years after the death of these three men I am no longer a boy of ten but a grandfather of ten.  The world has changed much since 1963 but at his core man has not.  We are still in need of great leaders and great thinkers but we must remember that of the three who died in November 22, 1963, only Lewis had led us to someone not restrained by political powers.  Instead of  war and despair only Lewis presented to the soul an avenue of redemption and joy  in the eternal redeemer Jesus Christ who, being in the form of God humbled himself to die for the sin of presidents, assassins, and atheists, satisfying the just wrath of a righteous God against his enemies.  Lewis reminded us to turn to the one man who died that many may live and hear the words, “Come farther up, come farther in!”

 

Psalm 2

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,

“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me,

“You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.