Meet The Bancrofts

I recently starred in a documentary.  Well…  Sort of…

By “starred”, I mean it was basically all about my son, Silas, and Courtney and I were in it as “support roles”.  But who needs the details, right?  It’s probably better that my face appears less anyway – Silas’ face is way cuter.

Seriously though, I was blown away by the talent of Ms. Jordan Moss.  She did this video as a project for her degree – I give it an A+ (but of course I may be a tiny bit biased).

Enjoy this little glimpse into the Bancroft family!

The Bancrofts from Jordan Moss on Vimeo.

Who’s Who? Commentary on Psalm 37:23

Psalm 37:23-24 was this past week’s Fighter Verse.  As I worked through memorizing these verses, I lingered on verse 23 for some time.

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way.”

I say “I lingered” – actually, I got stuck on the grammar.  I kept asking, “Who is he?” and “Who is his?” in this verse .  A natural reading of the text suggests a solution, but in typical Andrew style, I over-analyzed it and my mind spun for a while trying to figure out if I was really right about the conclusion or not.  (Perhaps that series on pronouns and antecedents would have been helpful to pay attention to in 8th grade English class)…

Ah, but alas, when grammar skills fail, just apply a little logic and math.  Rather than thinking of this dilemma in terms of a sentence diagram, I started looking at it in terms of possible pronoun-antecedent outcomes.  2 pronouns * 2 antecedents = 4 possible pronoun-antecedent outcomes:

1. “he” = “a man” , “his” = “a man”:
(“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when [a man] delights in [the man’s] way.”)

While it is true that man is exceedingly good at approving of himself and his own ways, the Bible is clear that self-approval does not stand as anything close to the primary ground for right standing with God.  In fact, the Scriptures teach us much about our fundamental sin condition, leading to wickedness and moral fallenness.  From Psalm 37 as a whole, we know that the LORD does not establish the ways of the wicked.  Option 1 seems highly unlikely.

2. “he” = “the LORD” , “his” = “the LORD”:
(“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when [the LORD] delights in [the LORD’s] way.”)

Make no mistake – the LORD delights in his own way.  This is fundamental right-ness.  For the LORD to be God, he must supremely delight in his own way.  He must uphold the infinite value of himself, his name – there is no one greater or more supreme to delight in.  However, it doesn’t seem that this is the reason for which the LORD would establish the steps of a man either.  While his establishment of man’s ways is could be seen as an overflow of his delight in himself, it is probably not what the Psalmist is referring to as he constructs verse 23.

3. “he” = “a man” , “his” = “the LORD”:
(“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when [a man] delights in [the LORD’s] way.”)

I’ll tip my hand and admit that I believe this to be the correct, and perhaps most natural reading of the verse.  Here, it would be understood that the reason a man’s steps are established by the LORD is because the man delights in the way of the LORD.  I gain a confirming clue from v. 4 of the same psalm:  “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart”.  Well, here the pronouns are quite clear.  To use language from v. 23, “a man” is doing the delighting in the LORD, and in reply, the LORD gives the man the desires of his heart.  Nearly the same sentence structure leads me to believe that delighting in the LORD is the precursor to the LORD’s acting on behalf of the delighter.

4. “he = “the LORD” , “his” = “a man”:
(“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when [the LORD] delights in [the man’s] way.”)

I believe that #3 is the correct pronoun-antecedent mapping, but I found it interesting to ponder the implications of this reading.  Could it be that the LORD delighting in a man’s ways is why the man’s steps are established?  Well, if this is true, one would naturally ask a second question:  “What state of a man does the LORD delight in?”

I believe it can be well argued from the Scriptures and from Psalm 37 (v. 4 again?) that it is when a man delights in the LORD that the LORD delights in the ways of that man.  When the LORD is the supreme delight of a man, the LORD is happy in the ways of that man.

The careful eye will observe that, if conclusion #4 is the correct one, we’re right back at #3 as the ultimate correct conclusion.  When a man delights in the way of the LORD, the LORD delights in the way of that man and the result of that series of delighting is the establishment of the man’s steps by the LORD.

It may seem like it was round about, but I loved thinking out the implications of each alternative reading.  And my joy was increased knowing that “though [I] fall, [I] shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds [my] hand.” (v 24) … when I delight in his way.

Remaining with God = Going with God

1 Corinthians 7:17 , 24(ESV)

17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. … 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.

It’s my observation that many Christians, perhaps even the majority, perceive an unnecessary difference between two categories of vocation:  “secular” and “sacred”.

One thought of encouragement from Paul in his first letter to Corinth is that we don’t need to make that distinction.  At all.  The Lord has “assigned” his people to various vocations in this life.  Those assignments are “callings”.  Prior to verse 24, Paul makes clear that there are various cultural/ethnic and vocational conditions that people were in when they began to treasure the glory of God in Jesus Christ.  It is in those various situations that Paul says “there let him remain with God”.

So it is my understanding that it is very possible – even essential for the purpose of accomplishing God’s whole purpose in the world, for Christians to be involved in all kinds of jobs and workplaces.

“Remaining with God” carries a new perspective on “Going with God”.  When Christians remain in a particular vocation that is not directly connected to the church’s organizational structure, they don’t just go to work… they go to work “with God” in that they remained in that line of work even after they believed.  You are a “missionary” where you are by virtue of belonging to Jesus.

So, Christian – don’t just do your job.  Do your job “with God”.  Don’t just go to work.  Go to work “with God”.  By remaining in your vocation, you are fulfilling your God-given assignment.  You are working out your calling.  You are “Going with God” just as much as the Christian whose assignment happens to be among the unreached peoples of the world.

 

One clarification – if your assignment is in a vocation not connected to the church’s organizational structure, God has assigned you there not primarily to work to earn to have more for yourself, but to work to earn to give generously to the causes and individuals who are assigned to making others happy in God around the world.  God has designed an awesome partnership between goers and senders.  You’re one, the other, or perhaps even both.  But no obedient Christian can be neither…

Think About These Things…

…What things?

According to Philippians 4:8 (ESV), the things to think about are those that are

  • true
  • honorable
  • just
  • pure
  • lovely
  • commendable
  • things that are of any excellence
  • things that are worthy of praise

I have several questions that come to mind from the list above, but I have a main one that has gripped me for the past few weeks.

It makes sense to think about things that have the qualities in Paul’s list above.  It seems to me that if I can find something that is true, it is good to think about that – why would I want to expend mental effort on something that is false?  It seems right for me to spend my time and mental energy on things that are honorable or pure or excellent or any of the things above.

So wouldn’t it follow that if I find something that is both true and honorable, that makes it a better thing to think about than something that is only true?  If there is something that is true and honorable and lovely, wouldn’t that put it on an even higher level than anything that has fewer qualities than it?

A second angle to view it from is this:  What if something was only lovely sometimes.  What if it could change its qualitative nature?  What if I find something that was honorable a year ago but now is dishonorable?  So it seems right to conclude that things which have many good qualities from Paul’s list and retain their good qualities for longer are better to think about than things that have fewer good qualities and fleeting or changeable characteristics.

So the question that gripped me was this:

What one thing in the universe is all of those, all the time?

I am convinced that the answer to my question is:  It isn’t a “thing” at all.  He is a Person.

May Jesus give us eyes to see His surpassing worth in far greater measures.

Blessed to be a Blessing

“God is not glorified when we keep for ourselves (no matter how thankfully) what we ought to be using to alleviate the misery of unevangelized, uneducated, unmedicated, and unfed millions”.  Desiring God p198

Oh the folly of a doctrine that would enable me to justify spending God-given resources on all kinds of luxurious purchases, believing that I can glorify God by simply being thankful that God gave me so much to buy them with!  Why would Jesus say to me “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy” if that teaching were true?  Doesn’t he teach me to store up treasure in heaven, not crave fleeting earthly possessions that I can’t even take with me when I die??!!

The words of pastor Jeffrey Singletary, Idlewild’s downtown campus pastor when I lived in Tampa, echo in my mind: “You were blessed to be a blessing!” YES!!

 

Who Delivered Him Up?

…”who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”  – Romans 4:25

Something amazing was drawn out of this verse for me as I listened to John Piper (www.desiringgod.org) preach through Romans 4:25 this week.  The observation was essentially this:  Jesus was delivered up to be crucified.  The verb “delivered” is passive, meaning the action was performed by someone else.  So the question then became, “Who delivered him up?

My mind immediately answered “Herod.  And Pilate.  And the soldiers.  And the Jewish crowd.”

That answer is not incorrect.  They did deliver him up and were responsible for the murder of the Son of God.  But as Piper continued, he observed something very key when interpreting what Paul meant when he wrote those words in Romans 4, namely:  none of the above named people or groups of people delivered him up for our trespasses.  Only God had that in mind when his Son went to the cross.

I was stunned with joy when I heard it.  Like a lightning bolt, my mind was immediately flooded with Acts 4:27-28:  “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”  [emphasis added]

The design of God is overwhelming to me.  The reason I am stunned with joy is because this gospel is simply amazing!  When I read in Romans that I can have the wrath that I deserve removed and absorbed by Jesus (because that’s what God intended to do by delivering up his Son because of my sins and not his own), and be wrapped up in Christ’s perfect righteousness and not put forward my own (as if that was worth anything), I am simply floored.

This is my only hope.