Saturday, April 28, 2007

Silas Michial Johnson, Proud Papa, and Big Sisters

Praise Beyond Words...

King David writes:

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!

From the mouth of infants and nursing babes
You have established strength!

Silas Michial Johnson sang the praise that was ordained for him on 27 April 2007 at 2:45 in the afternoon. Let us join him as he praises Yahweh his Creator.

Heavenly Father, you sent your own Son into this world. We thank you for the life of this child, Silas Michial Johnson, entrusted to our care. Help us to remember that we are all your children, and so to love and nurture him, that he may attain to that full stature intended for him in your eternal kingdom; for the sake of your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Believing the Unseen Promise...

Often times at a “Christian” funeral, a well-meaning pastor will read these holy words from 1 Corinthians 15.54-57. “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (NASB). Especially at a funeral these words beg for an explanation because most everyone at the funeral is feeling the horrific sting of death. We still feel that sting because death still wins. At a funeral we are reminded that death has once again won the victory. And death will continue to sting and persist in winning because the perishable has not yet put on the imperishable and the mortal has not yet put on immortality (15.53). As Christians who hope in the return of Christ and anticipate our own resurrection, we must admit that in 1 Cor 15, Paul is teaching us to believe the promise we do not yet see. We are waiting for death’s defeat. We are longing for relief from death’s sting. Our family is presently feeling that sting because death defeated my father-in-law this morning. Please read about this extraordinary man of faith.

Paul Dean Banister - 66 
3/28/1941 - 4/10/2007

Somonauk - Paul Dean Banister, 66, of Somonauk, IL passed away Tuesday, April 10, 2007 at his home. He was born March 28, 1941 in Sugar Grove, IL, the son of Fred and Florence Viola (Hyte) Banister. He married Julia Darlene Rutherford on August 16, 1970 in Cleveland, OH. 

He was a rural mail carrier . He was a Veteran of the United States Army. He loved the Lord and his family. He enjoyed woodworking, fishing, reading and working.

He is survived by his wife, Julia of Somonauk; one daughter, Yulinda (David) Johnson of Tyler, TX; three sons, John (Holly) Banister of Serena, IL, Paul (Theresa) Banister of Somonauk, IL and Joel (Lora) Banister of Kansas City, MO; his mother, Florence (Hyte) Banister of Joliet, IL; two sisters, Audrey (Myron) Pennington of Plainfield, IL, and Sally McDonald of Albia, IA; two brothers, Vernel Banister of Albia, IA and Jerry (Betty) Banister of Prescott Valley, AZ; nine grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his father, one brother, Clarence and two sisters, Thelma Graver and Betty LaGrand.

Funeral Services will be at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, April 14, 2007 Turner-Eighner Funeral Home in Somonauk with Pastor Roy Cherington officiating. Burial will follow at Oak Mound Cemetery in Somonauk. Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, April 13, 2007 at Turner-Eighner Funeral Home in Somonauk.

However, the sting and victory of death are both short-lived. We Christians just concluded our celebration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. That event decisively defeated death. It was, in effect, D-day, the battle that determined the end of the war. Yet, we are still awaiting VE Day, the day when the victory will be universally realized and there will be no more death, crying, or pain (Rev 21-22).

As a young child, my father-in-law taught me a song in children’s church that was based on Hebrews 11.1. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NASB). Our family cannot presently see the reality that death has been defeated. However, faith compels us to believe in spite of what we see. Faith drives us to trust God’s promise when MOST of everything around us screams that death has not been defeated. I emphasize “most of everything” because even in the midst of our pain, God has reminded us that he is right there with us in the pain, providing us with glimpses of the peace we will enjoy in the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven.

I praise and thank God for a godly man who stayed faithful to his God and family; for a man who taught me and lived before me the faith that believes the unseen and by which “the men of old gained approval” (Heb 11.2).

Sunday, April 1, 2007

God as Mystery...

Presently, God is guiding me through an exploration of the Orthodox Church (OC). My first serious bit of research in this area has taken me to a quick read of Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith by Peter Gillquist. He was part of a group of Campus Crusade staffers whose frustration with evangelicalism led them to explore how faithful evangelicals are to "The Faith Once for All Delivered." This exploration led them home to the OC. After that enjoyable read, I am now perusing The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware. Each chapter of this book describes the theological distinctives of The Orthodox Church. The OC argues however, that those realities we would describe as theologically distinct, are really just distinctively Christian. The first of these realities describes God as Mystery.

Professing Christians of the evangelical flavor, usually fail to embrace this foundational principle. Furthermore, the way theology is often taught in such churches, it's as if God is something we place under the microscope, examine, research and come to some sort of synthetic summary. Once again the post-Enlightenment church is worshipping in the sanctuary of the laboratory where the scientist who practices his method rules as priest. The OC, however, confesses, “A God who is comprehensible is not God.” We must remind others and ourselves that we will never fully comprehend God, because “A God…whom we claim to understand exhaustively through the resources of our reasoning brain turns out to be no more than an idol, fashioned in our own image.” I believe that when we embrace God as mystery, we do not mean that he is somehow unable to be understood, rather, we believe that he is so “completely other” that we will never grasp anything true about him unless he so chooses to reveal that reality. This confession will also lead us to a lifestyle that pursues continual communion with God as an end in itself. Instead of studying my Bible to increase my knowledge so I can pass some Bible literacy exam, I work to pursue its study because I am offered the grace of fellowship with our Holy and Immortal God. Bishop Ware describes well how the Greek Fathers embrace God as Mystery.

“The Greek Fathers liken man’s encounter with God to the experience of someone walking over the mountains in the mist: he takes a step forward and suddenly finds that he is on the edge of a precipice, with no solid ground beneath his foot but only a bottomless abyss” (pg. 13).

Sadly, I have previously viewed the study of God as a discipline to be conquered. On the contrary, my reading of the Sacred Text, the Creeds, the Fathers, etc. must remind me that I am a helpless wretch who must plead for the kind mercy of the Triune God, but who also has been invited into a fellowship of love with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The Father is my hope; the Son is my refuge; the Holy Spirit is my protector. O All-holy Trinity, glory to thee. Please provide the grace of divine illumination on this journey.