You are currently browsing the daily archive for October 10, 2009.

By Mark

There are times when I think my Mongolian is coming along pretty good.  I understand what someone is saying, they understand me- we joke, I explain quantum physics with my new found vocabulary (ok I’m pushing it).  I feel good, I think I’ve got it all together.  (I imagine myself in my alternate persona of  “Grammar Man”! and yes I do picture a flowing cape) Then comes language school.  The same sentence that I used so easily at the store isn’t making it past my teacher- it’s full of mistakes.  My pronunciation is wrong.  It begins to dawn on me that my grammar and pronunciation never were right when I was speaking before.  The problem was that I had no means of knowing how off I was.  There was nothing by which to measure it.

This is why I need the law.

In my life as Christian I have those times when things are going good.  I’m reading, I’m praying, I’ve got it together- I feel good about how I stand spiritually; a little too good.  Even unconsciously I begin subtle comparisons with others and think I’m doing alright. God must really like me- He made a good decision to save me.  I’m just a bit off- but that’s all it takes for heresy, a bit of self-righteousness.  I’m half-way right, God does really like me- in fact he loves me, but not for the reason I think.  He loves me because of His son, Jesus the Christ who died in my place and bore the brunt of God’s punishment that I deserved for my rebellion.  The only person that I can compare myself with is Christ.

But God has given us a means to measure ourselves by-this is what the law is.  The law is God’s standards- the expectations for how people are to meet with Him.  To put it another way they are God’s terms.  (In light of this it’s little wonder that Leviticus was the most quoted book by Jesus.)  The law shows me that I am lacking and that no matter how good I may feel, or think I am that is not enough to be accepted by God.  It’s not that I’m wrong by just a little bit- but by miles and miles.  The more I read of the law I realize there is no hope of keeping it.  The law is like a gigantic arrow and it points to the cross.  The law shows me my failure but points me to the truth that it is only because of Jesus who is in my place that I am accepted. The law reminds me of how far I will always be because of who I am but how accepted I can be because of who Jesus is for me. In light of the law I can only fail.  In light of Jesus who stands in my place- my Christ I am accepted.  The law increases my failure and separation from God.  Jesus secures my acceptance.

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Rom 5:20-1 ESV)

Language class is the law-I need it, it brings me back to reality.  It reminds me of where I really stand.  And it also reminds me of who stands in my place and called me to do His work.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,
equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.


By Mark

I like airports.  The ability to watch  planes take off and land, seeing people from literally every nation on earth make airports are amazing places.  For instance Toby was playing with a little British boy who asked Toby if he spoke English.  Toby’s reply “No, I speak American.”  This summer our family spent some time waiting and watching in several different airports.  (When I add up the layovers its more like days spent in airports).  Of course we spent a lot of time in Seoul which is one of the top-rated in the world.  (I might feel differently speaking about LAX an armpit or the Gary, Indiana of airports of the world in my opinion.)  


It’s rather odd to watch the ebb and flow of the airport.  In a matter of moments it goes from deserted to waves of people rushing back and forth and then to deserted again.The strange thing  is that for all the people that move through an airport- for all its activity- no one lives there; airports are a wholly transient place.  Someone living in an airport is an oddity (consider Spielberg’s dud Terminal).  Think about sitting at a gate when you overhear someone talking about where they are going to put the living room and the furniture and you see them pointing to the waiting area that you are sitting in.  It would be absurd, why?  Because airports are places that we move through, they are not permanent places to live.  For as wonderful as an airport is I don’t want to stay there, I want to get to where I am traveling to. 

Here is where the gospel comes in.  The gospel tells us that the present world is real and true but its not fully what God has for us, there is something greater he has prepared for us.  

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
(Heb 11:13-16 ESV)

I find it interesting that every day people step onto planes going to places they have never seen or experienced before but trust in others to get them there and yet resist the reality of heaven because they cannot see it. 

As I think about lessons of the this past year I see more clearly that our time on earth is like time in an airport- brief, transient, waiting for that better destination, a heavenly one.  When I bring the gospel to bear that promise is hope and also is a challenge to how I live now.  My possessions are like the seat in the waiting area- I can’t take it with me, nor would I want to because there is something great to come.  I fear to many people who call themselves followers of Jesus live their lives as if they are trying to build a house in an airport, forgetting that their hope and what they truly seek lays ahead.