Drinking Deeply

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Thanking one another

One of my cohorts recently posted a thought provoking post on his blog arguing that in the Bible, thanksgiving is only directed toward God, and therefore instead of saying, "thank you," we ought to say, "I thank God for you."

I liked his idea, but ended up not agreeing with it, and wrote briefly in response. Here's my comment -

Hey Dieudonne -

It's Mickey here, and I found your blog through Jeff. I thought this is an interesting argument, but I must say I'm not entirely convinced that thanksgiving is given exclusively to God, while I think I would totally agree if you said, "God is the first person we should thank" or "God is the primary person we should thank."

I think the Luke 17 passage would support a belief that men are to be thanked. And we can see that if we flip the rhetorical question around an examine an implied premise.

Luke 17:7–10 (ESV)
7 “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”

v.9 says "Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?"

This is a rhetorical question - and when we change it to an indicative, we would say, "The master does not thank the servant for doing what was commanded." And this statement is the reason for the statement in v. 10,

"So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’"

So Jesus' logic is:

A master does not thank the servant for doing what is commanded

Therefore:

You should not be desiring thanks for doing what you are commanded.

But this would be a bad argument for Jesus if it was never appropriate to thank the servant. Jesus argument should have been:

1) It is inappropriate to expect thanks for anything
2) Therefore, you should not expect thanks for doing your duty.

Therefore, the implied assumption of v.9 (in order to make the logic work) is "A servant only deserves thanks if they do more than what is commanded."

And that is why I don't entirely agree with your conclusion that we ought to thank God rather than thanking one another. Instead, I would say we should thank God as we thank one another.

Labels:

Links to this post

Friday, December 11, 2009 at 7:43 AM

Update letter

An update letter I sent off earlier this week. Please let me know if you'd like to be on the email list.

Dear All –

Some good news:

As the book of Judges closes, the people of Israel sink deeper and deeper into depravity. A levite sells his service to a false god for 10 dollars and a shirt per year, a group of people attempt to rape a traveling man and his concubine. The tribe of Benjamin revolt and kill thousands of Israelites. The common refrain is, “there was no king in Israel, every one did what was right in their own eyes.” Israel needed a king.

And the Lord gives Israel a king: Saul, David, Solomon, and then many others afterward. But the kings aren’t faithful to their charge before God. They cannot represent and lead their people properly because they too are marred with sin. Israel needs a true and blameless king.

But there is really good news – Jesus, the true, blameless, and eternal king, reigns. As the rush of finals, papers, wedding planning, and work is upon me, the reminder that “the Lord reigns!” has been an incredible encouragement. In spite of how busy things are, in spite of how worn down I may be, the Lord is spreading his kingdom.

Life -

Last I wrote, I mentioned that I was not engaged (yet). Well, I am excited to report that I proposed shortly after that letter (September 20), and Hannah and I are now engaged! The wedding date is set for February 27, 2010, which is a mere 3 months away. Frightening and exciting all rolled into one. It’s been scary looking at the enormous task list, but encouraging finish items off one by one. We’ve got major items figure out, but now need to start hammering out the details. Fun!

Seminary -

I just finished translating Ephesians 5:25-33 – “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... No man hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.” Quite a charge. Not only ought the husband be willing to die for his wife, but he must be willing to live for her – to daily sacrifice himself for the sake of her spiritual growth and maturity, to say no to selfish pleasures in order to nourish and cherish his body, his wife. Wow.

Apart from feeling really challenged and encouraged by Ephesians, the rest of my classes have also been a great joy. I’ve been learning about God’s amazing grace in the Old Testament, about the practicals of running a church, about small group ministries, and youth ministry. Each week a different pastor comes in to share about what he does, and all of us come out with a feeling like, “wow! Don’t you totally want to do inner city church planting?” or “Let’s go start some small groups!” The refrain over and over is, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

In addition to learning much academically, I have been humbled and blessed by my cohorts. One of them just shared with the group an amazing testimony of how the Lord has consistently been providing for him financially. He has been unable to get a stable job, yet somehow people, unasked, have written checks to support and encourage him. And each month it has been just enough to cover the rent and expenses and opened up opportunities for him to continue sharing the gospel with some Somalis that he had been playing soccer with. I have been incredibly blessed.

Ministry –

I’ve also been working with senior high school students. I lead a group of 6 freshmen and sophomore men through a study on biblical manhood and womanhood. The curriculum stretches them; they haven’t even started thinking about girls, how are they supposed think about biblical manhood? And what about the culture that believes that gender roles subjugate women?

So, I’ve been teaching them that men are not taking the initiative in order to demand obedience, but rather taking the initiative in order to serve. Adam’s charge was to work and serve the land. Christ, our Lord, did not come to be served, but to serve. That’s our model for men – We must take the initiative in order that we might serve. It’s been tough to get these guys motivated because they’ve all heard about God before, but this is something I long for them to hear and believe and put into practice. Of course, it has incredible relevance to me, I’m getting married!

Prayer requests –

I really don’t have much in the way of prayer requests, the Lord has provided for me more than I ever hoped or believed. I’m engaged to a beautiful and godly woman who prays for me daily (I need it!). I have a job tutoring students in calculus, which I love (both the students and the calculus). I get to share the Gospel with a bunch of senior high men who thought they didn’t need it but are beginning to realize that they do. I live with a group of guys who are excited about the Kingdom of God and want to live in joyful anticipation and obedience of it. My classes blow me away on a consistent basis, and I feel incredibly blessed to have such a strong network of friends like you that I can send this out to. I get so many encouraging responses to letters like this that I simply don’t have the time to answer them all, which is an incredibly encouraging problem to have.

Please pray that in this time of joyful abundance, I would continue to say with Paul, (Phil 4:12-13) “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Would it be that I would not see these gifts as greater than the greatest gift of all: Knowing and being known by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

With great joy,
Mickey Sheu

PS – attached is a picture of Hannah and me, courtesy of Jessica when she visited back late September.

Labels:

Links to this post

at 7:20 AM

Age of depravity

Catholics, and some Protestant Christians, believe that there exists an "age of innocence" that exists, before which a child, since he doesn't know right from wrong. I was reading in Isaiah today and stumbled upon this passage. Isaiah is talking about Immanuel, the sign for Ahab about the coming destruction against his enemies. This sign found partial fulfillment at that time, and is applied (by Matthew) to the birth of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 7:15-16

15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.
This is interesting in that it says that it is "before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good...” This seems to indicate that they automatically know how to choose evil and refuse good. They didn’t have to learn that. Evil and good already exist to them, and by nature, the person chooses evil and refuses good. Children do not have an age of innocence, but rather an age of guilt and depravity.

Labels:

Links to this post

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 at 5:35 AM

Chronological snobbery

1 Kings 8:27 (ESV)
27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!

The inclination for people in general is to think that the people of the OT are backwards. All they have are the shadows, so they really didn’t think too many right thoughts. They thought (haha) that God was located in the Ark! But we know better now. Of course of course. And this is all an excuse to not read the Old Testament all that much, and when we do, not see it as too relevant to us.

The big thing I've been learning from my OT class is just how much depth and grace there is in the Old Testament. How much mercy there for those who take the time to look for it.

Case in point - Solomon, after building a temple, prays a prayer that is strongly affirming that God is not a local God, God does not reside in a temple in the same way we would reside in a house. Instead, God has a temple as a place where we can look and be reminded – “God is a God who forgives! God is one who can still have mercy! God has reached down to earth and now the freedom to pray to him is here!” The temple is not a dwelling place for God in the sense that he needed something, the temple is a symbol for us – that God is one who dwells among us and has reached down to us.

This is the kind of God that we worship, and the OT believers worshiped God too! A God who is compassionate and merciful, faithful to thousands who seek him, a God who says, "Salvation belongs to the Lord!"

Praise the Lord of grace, revealed from the Old Testament to the New!

Labels:

Links to this post