Leave a comment

Where is the God of Beauty?

Sharon Herald > The Scholars Corner

November 14, 1998

Where is the God of Beauty?

1998 by Jefferis Kent Peterson, I

Sometimes we Christians are a boring lot. With intense and focused zeal we pound the drum, driving home the point of our latest cause with rhythmic fury. Whether that issue is politics or doctrine, we sometimes become, to all appearances, one dimensional creatures lacking depth both of thought and heart. Rather than the message of Jesus’ love for all humanity, we carry with us the accusing finger of veiled anger.

That is not to say that the issues that face our culture are not life and death issues – they are. Injustice and the death of the innocent are the very real consequences of our selfishness, and a call to repentance needs to be heard in the land. But who will heed the call if the remedy is worse than the disease? I believe it was Rainer Rilke who said “The words of an unreformed reformer are seldom heeded.” Why indeed should the world heed the message of God’s love from those who have none to give?

St. Paul was a man who, in the fire of his conversion, saw the Risen Christ. He was by nature a zealous man. He had such hostility to his fellow Jews, who believed in Jesus as Messiah, that he traveled from town to town seeking to put the heretics to death. He was on his way to Damascus to further his cause when he was struck down by a blinding vision of Jesus [Acts 9]. After repenting of his former behavior, Paul began to preach the very Messiah Jesus he had formerly rejected. It says he was very successful in arguing and debating for the cause of Christ. He kept winning the arguments and so infuriated his opponents that they kept trying to kill him. Even though he won the debates, it doesn’t say he won many converts. In fact, he baffled people. Finally, Paul had caused so much trouble in Jerusalem that the Apostles sent Paul away from the city, and it says, “Then the Church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace,” [v. 31]. Paul leaves, the city has peaceful relations, and Paul is not heard from again for about 9 years.

What had happened? Why did God send Paul, his future apostle to the Gentiles, into a type of exile? It was because Paul was full of zeal, but he lacked grace and love. He now had the truth, but he still had the same old personality. He was an arguer and a debater. He was more interested in proving Christ than in loving those Christ died to save. Twenty years later, Paul reflects on his zealous addiction that lacked affection:

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing,” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, RSV).

Like Paul, we often bang the cymbal of insistence with so little love for those who oppose us that the message we preach is our intolerant selves and not the love of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, for our own sakes and for the sake of the true Gospel, we need to take a break from our religious interests to appreciate and give thanks for the beauty of this life. Yes there is wickedness and evil in the land, but there is also the glory of sea and the sky and the field and the forest. There is music on which flows the melody of creation itself. There is fellowship and friendship and food for the table. There is this need within us to cultivate a thankful life and to know first hand the joy of the Lord. If we do not, then we fail to be God’s true representatives. Can you imagine Jesus not having times of song and celebration and worship? Can you imagine Jesus without laughter? These are not the images of the same God enfleshed whose first miracle was to create wine for a wedding feast in order to keep the party going.

You are the message God is sending into the world. You are his living letters. What people see in you is the Person you represent. Therefore, to be a true message from God, you are to live the love. Any less is a disservice to the One who sends you.

 

Leave a comment

Paul’s Weakness

A Sermon Preached by Jefferis Kent Peterson 3/17/2019 at Wimberley Christian Church

Summary of Paul’s ministry in Athens.  Don Richardson tells this story about Paul’s ministry to an unknown God in a book Eternity in Their Hearts:

In the 6th C. Athens was the subject of a terrible plague and the city elders were at a loss to know how to abate it. They believed the city was under a curse because they were guilty of treachery against the followers of Cylon,  who were slain after they had been promised an amnesty. They had tried sacrificial offerings but to no avail.  Turning to the Oracle for wisdom, the priestess said there was another god who remained unappeased for their treachery. Who was this unknown god? The priestess did not know but advised that they should send a ship to the island of Crete and fetch a man called Epimenides who would know how to appease the offended god.

Epimenides advised the elders to seek a sign from the unknown god. He told them to graze a flock of healthy sheep of different colors, some white, some black on the grassy slope of Mars Hill. He then prayed something on the lines of…

“O thou unknown god! Behold the plague afflicting the city.  And if indeed you feel compassion to forgive and help us, behold the flock of sheep.  Reveal your willingness to respond, I plead, by causing any sheep that pleases you to lie upon the grass instead of grazing…  And those you choose we sacrifice to you – acknowledging our pitiful ignorance of your name”

Although it was early morning when the sheep were at their hungriest and therefore unlikely to stop grazing, before long some sheep settled down to rest and these were separated from the remainder of the flock for the sacrificial offering. Epimenides ordered stonemasons to construct altars on each animal’s resting place.  On each, following Epimenides’ instructions, they inscribed the words “agnosto theo” meaning “to an unknown god”.

Within a week, the Athenians stricken by the plague recovered.

1. Paul was well educated, trained in argument and rhetoric.

2. Athens was full of philosophers, intellectuals,

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17:16–21, ESV)

3. Paul was greatly discouraged by the lack of response in Athens after giving one of the greatest reasoned and passionate presentations of the Gospel using the tools of rhetoric and argument.

4. He comes to Corinth,  where he isn’t having much success either with his own people, who know the word of God but refuse the Messiah.

Ac 18:5–11. (In Corinth) Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.   And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

His fellow Jews were well versed in the Scriptures, argument and debate. And Paul had ALL The Credentials. He studied under the revered Rabbi Gamaliel, the Grandson the famous Rabbi Hillel.

It was under the tutelage of Rabbi Gamaliel that Paul developed an expert knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. Paul’s educational and professional credentials allowed him to preach in the synagogues wherever he traveled , and his grasp of Old Testament history and law aided his presentation of Jesus Christ as the One who had fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17).

It was like having a PhD from Harvard or Dallas Seminary.   Acts 17:2said  he would regularly reason with the Jews from the Scriptures on the Sabbath days. He used his best gifts and natural talents, but found them NOT WORKING!  Ever been there??? His best STRENGTH was not working!!   He is ready to give up his ministry.  God has to speak to him to encourage him,  And the Lord said to Paul  one night in  a vision,  “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent,  for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for  I have many in this city who are my people.”  And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

The Compression of Scripture: Paul’s ministry takes over 14 years but we see it as one great event after another. We forget the months of the MUNDANE. Paul had to work for a living in Corinth. He had to make tents and spend many hours just working without doing ministry. He would argue on the Sabbath days. What did he do the most of the week? Dye Leather. BTW, it was considered an unclean profession for a Jew because you had to tan with blood and urine.

5. He changes tactics after recognizing the failure of reason to persuade…

“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach THE MESSIAHcrucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:21–25, ESV)

He decides instead to rely upon the Spirit and the Anointing of God rather than his own strength… to become a fool, as it were, for Jesus.

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1–5, ESV)

6. What is Paul’s Weakness? Paul faced a real issue of credibility EVEN within the Churches he founded. He was not one of the original 12 disciples. He had not walked with Jesus. He may not even have ever seen Jesus before he was blinded on the road to Damascus. Plus his manner was so gentle that he did not present himself with commanding authority as did his enemies. No putting on airs or using titles.

“I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10:1–2, ESV)

“For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed. I do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”   (2 Corinthians 10:8–10, ESV)

7.  So what happens when others come in to his churches from Jerusalem and say he is not one of the true disciples and that his teachings are heretical, in error?

Background:  Men from James, called Judaizers believe that for Gentiles to be saved, they must also follow all the Hebrew laws, be circumcised, keep kosher food laws and keep the Hebrew calendar feasts. They are confident, legalistic, and self-important. And they are throwing fear into the hearts of Paul’s converts that they have missed God and God is not pleased with them.

Paul’s response is a defense of his “weakness!”

“I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.” (2 Corinthians 11:1–6, ESV)

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel (Greek: angelos – messenger) of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13–15, ESV)

“For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weakfor that! But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that.” (2 Corinthians 11:19–21, ESV)

What is More, he compares God’s “weakness” to the might of men:

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weaknessof God is stronger than men  1 Co 1:25.

“For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weakin him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.” (2 Corinthians 13:4, ESV)

8. Paul’s use of the word Weakness is always in relationship to other men. It isn’t a confession of being sick.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger (Greek: angelos – angel) of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10, ESV)

Paul knew the OT and the use of “thorn in the side” as a term used for war.  

Numbers: 33: 55-56  But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as  y barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. 56And I will do to you     as I thought to do to them.

  Ezekiel 28:24  And for the house of Israel   there shall be no more a brier to prick or    a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors  who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord GOD.

9. His Thorn, I believe was that everywhere he established churches, the Judaizers would come an attempt to undermine his ministry. What was the result of not having the thorn removed?  Out of his weakness, we have a major portion of the New Testament written for our benefit!  He is forced to defend the Gospel of Grace in his letters to Corinth and Galatia.

10.  Paul’s character was one of humility and gentleness, not one lording it over others. He gave an example of how we should be towards one another, and to be aware of others who would take advantage of us by religious legalism, pride in position (like being a pastor or boss or rank) or abusive put downs. His weakness led to charges that he lacked God’s authority. Yet he had to live that way to be an example of Jesus.

Leave a comment

Why Death Gives us Hope

Cythnia Gartland Funeral, Oct 20, 2013 from jefferis peterson

Funeral for Cythnia Gartland, Oct 20, 2013
Officiating, Jefferis Kent Peterson, I, her son-in-law

I had the privilege of doing a celebration of life for my mother-in-law.  The actual eulogy begins at minute 9.

Our hope in the face of death. God sets a limit on our estrangement and brings us back to Him by removing fear of Him through death.

From a The Scholars Corner post.

Leave a comment

Tommie Fortune Testimony – Hope in the Face of Stage 4 Cancer

A Powerful Testimony
Tommie Fortune Testimony – Hope in the Face of Stage 4 Liver Cancer
How to Have Joy in the Midst of Hardship
Testimony given in the Third Week of Advent
Trusting God in the midst of threats to life and suffering.
Courage in Adversity.

A Member of Wimberley Christian Church given on Dec. 16, 2018

Leave a comment

Bold Beauty Project Texas Launch!

BBTXPOSTERTHIS FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY ONLY IN WIMBERLEY  (LEARN MORE and see videos at TexasBoldBeauty.com)

BE A PART OF OUR ART LEAGUE’S QUEST TO BANISH ANY STIGMAS ASSOCIATED WITH DISABILITIES AND TO REJOICE IN THE FORTITUDE, COURAGE AND SPIRITS OF THESE BEAUTIFUL WOMEN. THIS IS A SHOW YOU WILL NEVER FORGET! COME MEET THE MODELS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS.

Please note: This is a traveling exhibit and will be in Wimberley this weekend only. If you miss the show or want to see it again, join us for another reception at the Walkers’ Gallery
in the San Marcos Activity Center next Friday.
Our exhibit is taking center stage!

A special thanks to our sponsors and donors for supporting this show.
Wimberley Valley Art League
Bob and Zeina Cook
Thomas Printworks in Austin
Brookdale Senior Living
Claire Porter
Edward Jones – Wimberley / Michael Murphy
HEB Wimberley
Art on 12
Roger McBee Photography
Creekhaven Inn

If you would like to help sponsor this project,
please visit our website where you can make a donation: texasboldbeauty.com.
And, you can stop by Art on 12 where we have 100 pieces of art
on sale for $100 each, with proceeds going to the project.

Leave a comment

Bothered by Robo Calls, try YouMail

“Don’t hang up. We have an important announcement about your credit…”

Ever heard that message on your cell phone? Does the caller look like it is coming from your area code and exchange? Are you frustrated, annoyed, and angry at your inability to block all these numbers, because every time you block one, they fake a new one? It is like  being attacked by horseflies.  You swat them away but they keep coming back to take a bite out of your flesh.

Well about eight months ago I found an app for my phone called YouMail. It  is an app that works both on Android phones and iPhones.  It is relatively easy to set up and the best thing about it, it is free for blocking calls of known or suspected spammers. It also is free for up to 10 transcripts of legitimate calls per month. If you are a business user or hearing impaired, there are paid plans that will have unlimited transcriptions.

YouMail works in concert with your telephone company and you must set it up with your permissions to intercept calls  before they reach your phone, but dang is it worth it!! I figure it has blocked at least 10 calls a month.

What happens if a robo-spammer calls you, it may ring once but is immediately disconnected.    I highly recommend this program for anyone who is sick of being harassed by the invisible demons of telemarketing.  And by the way, it works MUCH better than the Do Not Call government list, which only seems to attract the robots. 😦

Click here to go to their website. If you sign up for a plan, it may help underwrite this blog.

Leave a comment

An Alternative to Adobe Business Catalyst: Shopify

Moving From Adobe Business Catalyst: A Solution in Shopify

As I wrote previously, in Adobe Abandons Another Product, those of us who relied upon Business Catalyst for our clients’ e-commerce solutions were jolted out of our complacency by the sudden announcement that Adobe would be dumping the program. While Business Catalyst was hopelessly behind the curve in web development standards (not automatically responsive, and no responsive menu system), it had many features for customer management, marketing, and inventory control which made it effective for many clients’ needs.

Adobe was forced to delay its cancellation of the program by the outrage of customers and developers alike, who needed time to investigate and migrate their stores to other platforms.  This is especially true for clients with large inventories of products. In my research, I found that the best solution for my clients is Shopify. Shopify has most of the features of BC. It integrates with MailChimp, which replaces the BC newsletter feature. It has a way to create a wholesale area for distributors that retail customers cannot access.  It has a well recognized business and shopping cart platform and has been around a while.

There is a way to manually transfer information through CSV export files, but I found that using a third party service called Litextension’s Shopify Migration Tool, I was able to import all 330 inventory pieces, with their photos, for my client Ben-Dannie, Inc. And using an available App called Blogfeeder, I was able to transfer not only their blogs from BC but also from their Facebook page.   It took about 3 weeks to create a new design and complete the transfer, but overall it was relatively painless.

There are a few weaknesses of Shopify. It does not have a native drag and drop feature for page design similar to that of WordPress. You can purchase apps that allow your more control, or code it yourself, but most of the apps in their store require an ongoing subscription.  Its media library feature suffers from a lack of  robust search options and its layout is too restricted for easy scrolling or listing.  And Shopify does not host your emails, even if you transfer the domain to them, so you must find a third party to host your emails.  That is not really a problem if you already use an exchange server, but if you don’t it can present a small hiccup, not the least of which is caused by Adobe’s seeming inability to release email hosting if you have previously chosen it as your mail host.

So, if you are looking for someone to help you move, I’ve been through the learning curve and you can contact me at Peterson Design Studio.  If you prefer to do it yourself or already have a designer, I’d appreciate if you use this referral link to help me underwrite this blog.

%d bloggers like this: